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Thirteen different Notre Dame teams will be in action this weekend as the winter and spring seasons collide. The men’s basketball team finishes its regular season Friday night, and the hockey and women’s basketball teams have playoff match-ups in the next three days. Here’s a brief look at what the rest of the Irish teams will be doing.
After finishing last year as the least productive team in the Big East on offense, Notre Dame has started the 2012 season with bats ablaze. The Irish(5-1) have scored 47 runs under second year head coach Mik Aoki on their way to the team’s best start since 2004. This weekend they play a three-game series against Texas State in San Marcos, Texas.
Reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, first basemen Trey Mancini, has picked up where he left off last spring. Mancini leads the team with 12 RBI, but junior catcher Joe Hudson is hot on his trail. Hudson was named the Big East player of the week on Feb. 20. He’s hitting .591 so far this season with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBI. The Irish offense will face a tough test this weekend against the Bobcats, who have a 1.78 team ERA.
Notre Dame’s Joyce Center will play host to the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships Saturday and Sunday. The Irish (ranked fourth on the men’s side and third on the women’s) are looking for their third consecutive title. Ohio State and Northwestern are two of the biggest threats for Notre Dame in the 20-team field coming to South Bend.
Notre Dame opens the spring against stiff competition this weekend. They are playing the inaugural 3-day, 54-hole Darius Rucker Intercollegiate tournament. (Yes, it’s the same Darius Rucker who earned fame as the lead singer of Hootie & The Blowfish) Six of the 15 teams playing in the Hilton Head, S.C., tournament are ranked in the top 20. Four of Golfweek’s top 10 collegiate golfers will be playing as well.
The men’s team started their spring season last weekend by winning The Match Play Championships in Orlando, Fla. Notre Dame beat Central Arkansas and USC Upstate (South Carolina) 4.0-2.0 in weekend matches to claim the title. Three players posted perfect 4-0 record during the weekend, including sophomore Niall Platt who was named the Big East golfer of the week. This weekend they join the women’s team in Hilton Head, S.C., for the Alumni Match Weekend.
No. 26 Notre Dame welcomes No. 2 Ohio State to South Bend on Saturday. The Irish(11-5) are 7-1 at home in 2012, but will face by far their toughest test thus far with the Buckeyes. On Sunday, they follow up with a match against No. 58 Maryland. Notre Dame has dropped its last six showdowns with Ohio State.
The women’s team doesn’t have any easier of a weekend ahead of them. They will close out a successful home stand this weekend with matches against Iowa and No. 3 Duke. Notre Dame(8-3) has won their last three matches, all in South Bend. After this weekend, they will travel to Honolulu for matches against Texas Tech, SMU and Hawaii.
Notre Dame responded to a rough opening weekend by winning three of four in Carolina last week to pull its record to 4-5. Senior infielder Dani Miller hit a grand slam and another home run to help the Irish win two against No. 24 North Carolina. She also extended her 70-game error-free streak on defense.
Miller and the Irish will play four mores games this weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Buena Vista, Fla. They start with Long Island and Ohio State on Saturday and finish with Fordham and Virginia Tech Sunday.
No. 9 Notre Dame is on the road against No. 18 Drexel Saturday. The Irish rocketed to No. 2 in the country after beating Duke at home to open the regular season, but an overtime loss to No. 20 Penn State a week later dropped them back down to ninth. Ryan Foley, Max Pfeiffer and Jim Marlatt lead the Irish attack with two goals apiece so far in the young season.
First-year head coach Christine Halfpenny is 2-0 in her Notre Dame career so far. The Irish scored 17 goals against both Stanford and Duquesne to start the year. Sophomore Lindsay Powell leads the team with eight goals in her first two games. This Sunday they are in Columbus, Ohio to play the Buckeyes.
Track & Field
Notre Dame will host some of the top track talent in the country this weekend at the Alex Wilson Invitational. After taking first place in the Big East Indoor meet, the men have several runners looking to place high again this weekend. Sophomore Patrick Feeney won the conference 400-meter race and will try to do the same this weekend. Football players Bennett Jackson, George Atkinson III and Josh Atkinson will also be running sprints for the Irish this weekend.
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