NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Notre Dame Softball Team released its 2020 spring schedule Wednesday, which includes five matchups with teams ranked in the Top 25 in 2019. The Irish will play in four total tournaments throughout the regular season, in addition to normal conference and non-conference matchups.
“We’re putting ourselves in position to play some of the best teams from the very strongest conferences,” Notre Dame Softball Head Coach Deanna Gumpf stated. “We do that because I believe that we need to play those games early, so that we learn and get better and understand what it takes to win the big games at the end.”
Notre Dame will open the season at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., in a 16-team field comprised of 15 collegiate squads and the United States Women’s National Team. 10 of those teams, including the Irish, participated in postseason play. The Irish will take on Missouri, 2019 No. 24 Auburn, Missouri State, 2019 No. 17 Ole Miss and South Alabama.
The Irish will travel to Raleigh, N.C., for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, grouped with host NC State and Big Ten representatives Illinois and Ohio State, and then to the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., where they are scheduled to play San Diego State, BYU, Seattle, Oregon, Arizona State and Cal State Fullerton.
Notre Dame opens ACC play at Duke on Feb. 28 and travels for a rematch with NC State the following weekend in Raleigh. Following a mid-week game at South Carolina Beaufort, the Irish will travel cross-country to the Golden State for a game at Cal Poly, then participating in the Cal Poly Tournament March 13-15.
“When we travel as much as we do, especially in the first half of the season, it’s really just a matter of being in physical shape to play that kind of a schedule, and a good mental place to go out there and just play,” Gumpf noted. “When you’re in the moment, you’re playing the very best softball you can possibly play, and not thinking so much about where we are or what we have next.”
The Irish begin their home slate on Wednesday, March 18, against IUPUI, which will be followed in the subsequent days by a series vs. 2019 No. 22 Virginia Tech and matchups against Western Michigan and Illinois-Chicago. Notre Dame heads back on the road for trips to Boston College and Indiana, returning home to face Purdue and 2019 No. 4 Florida State.
“Playing Florida State at home is huge for us, because they have consistently been the top seed in our conference, and we want to get ourselves in a position to change that in the ACC,” Gumpf explained. “But, every single ACC matchup is huge for us, because we do have a very good conference. Oftentimes, I think people don’t know how good our conference really is every single weekend.
“There’s not one weekend that you can not play your best softball and win the weekend,” Gumpf added.
Notre Dame’s last regular-season travel will take place in early April, with a single game at Michigan State and a series at Louisville. The Irish return home to host 2019 No. 18 Northwestern, followed by a series vs. Pittsburgh, which will be Notre Dame’s Strike Out Cancer weekend, an awareness initiative which benefits South Bend’s Memorial Children’s Hospital. In 2018, Notre Dame Softball raised more than $48,000 for the cause.
Finishing out the regular season, the Irish will take on Toledo, Kent State, Syracuse and Detroit-Mercy at home, honoring senior student-athletes during the Syracuse series (April 24-26).
The 2020 ACC Tournament will take place May 6-9 in Louisville. NCAA postseason play kicks off May 14 with the first round of NCAA regionals.