Junior 2B Jeremy Barnes.

Irish Return To Diamond This Week With Two-Game Non-Conference Series Against Mississippi Valley State

April 28, 2008

    Notre Dame vs. Mississippi Valley State
    April 28-29
    Frank Eck Stadium
    Notre Dame, Ind.
    Tuesday, Game-1 (6:05 p.m.)
    RHP Brian Dupra (2-2, 6.00) vs. TBA

Wednesday, Game-2 (6:05 p.m.)
RHP Ryan Sharpley (3-1, 2.86) vs. TBA

    Video Streaming: UND.com
    Audio: ESPN Radio 1490 AM (Sean Stires, p-b-p); UND.com
    Gametracker: UND.com

IN THE BATTERS BOX — Notre Dame returns to action this week at Frank Eck Stadium with a two-game non-conference series against Mississippi Valley State. The Irish enter the week with a 28-12-1 record overall and 13-5 mark in BIG EAST play. Notre Dame remains tied with St. John’s atop the conference standings, while Cincinnati (12-6) sits just one game behind. All three games can be heard on ESPN Radio 1490 AM as well as UND.com.

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE INSIDER — The Delta Devils, led by ninth-year head coach Doug Shanks, enters the series with Notre Dame owning a 15-20 record. Mississippi Valley State took two of three games from Southwestern Athletic Conference rival Alcorn State this past weekend (4-5, 8-3, 12-8). The Delta Devils are 11-9 in the SWAC (good for third place in the Eastern Division).

Mississippi Valley State, who owns an 11-15 record on the road in 2008, is averaging 5.6 runs per game and hitting .258 with a .374 on-base percentage. The Delta Devils have also totaled 46 stolen bases in 69 attempts.

Mississippi Valley State plays a tough non-conference schedule. In addition to the Irish, the Delta Devils have already played LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn and Southern Miss. They are 0-6 in those contests (Arkansas postponed due to weather) and have been outscored, 42-7.

Mississippi Valley State has three everyday players that are hitting over .300. Jeff Squier leads the attack with a team-best .336 batting average, nine doubles, two triples and 12 stolen bases (also two home runs and 14 RBI). Cody Pride is hitting .302 with eight doubles, a home run and 15 RBI. Hogan Barnes is batting .300 with nine doubles, three home runs and team-best 25 RBI. Willie Mays leads the Delta Devils with five home runs, but is batting just .203.

The pitching staff has a 7.24 ERA and .326 opponents’ batting average along with 171 strikeouts and 120 walks in 261.0 innings pitched. Chris Mills leads the club with a 4.48 ERA in 60.1 innings of work. He is 6-3 in 13 appearances (eight starts) with 46 strikeouts and 15 walks. Derrick Townsend (3-2, 7.30), Jared Dellinger (1-1, 6.00), Scott Reid (1-4, 6.37), Joel Gafford (1-3, 6.45), Brandon Dotson (0-2, 7.64), Anthony Edwards (3-2, 9.89) and Jesse Locke (0-1, 10.29) are also options out of the Delta Devils bullpen. Mississippi Valley State is fielding at a .951 clip as well.

THE STARTING PITCHERS — Notre Dame will start freshman right-handed hurler Brian Dupra (2-2, 6.00 ERA) in the series opener. The Rochester, N.Y. native has made seven starts for a total of 36.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 49 hits and nine walks while striking out 18. Dupra has allowed three home runs and opponents are batting .333 against him. He struggled over his first three starts (0-2 with 10.22 ERA), but has rebounded quite well. Dupra is 2-0 with a 3.80 ERA over his last five appearances (four starts). Over that stretch, he has struckout 13 and walked just four in 23.2 innings of work.

Freshman right-hander (3-1, 2.86 ERA) will take the mound in game two. Sharpley has made six appearances (five starts) for a total of 22.0 innings pitched. The Marshall, Mich. native has allowed just 12 hits and 12 walks with 20 strikeouts. He has allowed just one home run and opponents are batting .169 against him. Sharpley has taken form over his last four starts. He is 3-0 with a 2.12 earned-run average. Sharpley has struckout 14, walked 10 and yielded just eight hits in 17.0 innings.

— ND —