NOTRE DAME, Indiana — RV Notre Dame Softball announced the 2021 slate Tuesday, which will begin February 13. The schedule includes 32 conference games, two tournaments, an ACC Pod weekend and a host of home midweek games prior to the postseason. In total, the Irish are set to face five teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the initial USA TODAY/NFCA Coaches national poll.
“This year is about truly working together as a team, number one. Number two, make the most of the day we have, and number three, when we get the opportunity, we’re taking it,” head coach Deanna Gumpf, who enters her 20th season at the helm of the Irish program, shared.
“We have a great core of returners. We have most of our starting lineup back, so we have experience,” she added. “We have depth, and we have really good leaders.”
All conference series will consist of four games, usually including a single game Friday, doubleheader Saturday and single game Sunday. Notre Dame enters the season receiving votes in the national poll and ranked third in the ACC by conference coaches, following No. 12 Florida State (ACC No. 1) and No. 15 Virginia Tech (No. 2), and ahead of No. 25 Duke (No. 4) and RV Clemson (No. 6).
“The schedule may look a tiny bit different, but the team that will play in these games is so ready, and so excited, and they’re going to be a really fun team to watch play.” Gumpf noted.
The Irish will open their season with a two-day tournament at Alabama State in the Stinger Classic from Feb. 13-14. The next weekend, Notre Dame will travel to the Research Triangle as part of ACC Pod play. The Pod weekend replaces the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and the Irish will play a three-game series with Syracuse first at host site North Carolina on Feb. 18-19, then cross the Triangle to play No. 25 Duke at its home stadium in three games (Feb. 20-21).
The second tournament for Notre Dame will take place at Liberty University in the Liberty Classic Feb. 26-28. On Feb. 26, the Irish will play RV Liberty, and then will take on both Bucknell and Liberty on Saturday. Sunday, Notre Dame’s final matchup of the tournament will be against Bucknell.
After an open weekend, conference play for Notre Dame will commence March 12-14 with a series at North Carolina. The following weekend brings a trip to Georgia Tech for a four-game series March 19-21. Then, Notre Dame returns to Melissa Cook Stadium for the first home series in more than a year and a half, hosting NC State March 26-28.
Notre Dame’s first midweek game of 2021 will take place March 31 vs. Central Michigan before the Irish travel to No. 12 Florida State for an Easter weekend series April 2-4.
Another midweek is in store at Melissa Cook April 7 vs. Western Michigan. The Irish then will host RV Clemson April 9-11, taking on the Tigers for the first time in program history. April 13, Notre Dame will host Loyola of Chicago in a midweek matchup.
The program’s annual Strike Out Cancer weekend will take place April 16-18, as the Irish host Virginia. Marking the 11th-annual Strike Out Cancer celebration, it is a weekend that serves to raise awareness and funds for local pediatric cancer patients and their families. Strike Out Cancer began supporting leukemia awareness in 2011 in solidarity with Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf and her daughter, Tatum, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2010 and has since won her battle.
The final road series of 2021 for Notre Dame will take place with a four-game stint at No. 15 Virginia Tech, before the Irish return home to Melissa Cook for Senior Weekend as they face Boston College May 7-9.
The ACC Tournament commences May 12 in Louisville, Kentucky, with NCAA Regional play beginning May 19.
The schedule is subject to change, and games may be added or removed. Follow @NDSoftball on Twitter and visit und.com/sports/softball/ for the most up-to-date information.