Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer
After succumbing to a Minnesota sweep, which included getting no-hit Sunday, Northwestern will look to get back on track Wednesday against No. 25 Notre Dame (33-11, 13-5 ACC) in South Bend, Indiana.
The Wildcats (20-14, 8-3 Big Ten) are coming off their first three conference losses of the season last weekend after dropping three games to the No. 15 Golden Gophers (33-7, 9-3). NU fell from first to third in Big Ten standings and now sits behind Michigan (37-6, 10-2) and Minnesota.
Notre Dame is in the middle of a 19-game winning streak and in third place in the ACC, following Florida State (34-11, 14-3) and North Carolina (31-10, 13-3). But coach Kate Drohan isn’t focusing on the toughness of the opponent.
“The biggest key for us has nothing to do with Notre Dame,” Drohan said. “It’s all about our mentality and if we’re able to bounce back after our weekend against Minnesota.”
Drohan continued, praising the team’s recent play.
“We’ve played some really good softball for well over a month, but we stubbed our toe last weekend,” Drohan said. “It’s about how we play the game and approach the game mentally.”
Junior second baseman Brianna LeBeau echoed her coach’s sentiments and thinks NU can definitely improve in time for Wednesday’s game.
“We really need to focus on making adjustments,” LeBeau said. “Something that went wrong in the Minnesota series was (failure) to make an adjustment. Some things just weren’t working out.”
Senior Olivia Duehr said what happens early in the game will go a long way in the result against the Fighting Irish.
“Focusing on getting the first out of every inning and scoring first (is important) just to gain momentum right away,” Duehr said. “If we can do that, we’ll have a really good chance.”
Additionally, Duehr, who is normally an outfielder, entered the pitcher’s circle for the first time in her career against Minnesota. Duehr made two relief appearances in the series, but she hopes that she won’t need to fill a mop-up role again anytime soon.
Despite Duehr’s seeming reluctance, Drohan was more enthusiastic as to whether she would pitch again this season.
“That will likely be a game-by-game decision,” Drohan said. “I love her attitude out there, and I love what she can do for this program.”
On the offensive side, NU’s hot streak abruptly ended last weekend against Minnesota. Duehr is confident the Minnesota series is in the rearview mirror.
“That comes with the game itself,” Duehr said. “Everyone goes through slumps, everyone goes through streaks. So I think that that’s behind us now and we’re moving forward.”
Drohan also isn’t worried about NU’s offensive output, even though the Cats were no-hit in their last game.
“I’m not concerned,” Drohan said. “I have as much faith in this offense … no, I have more faith in this offense, than any other offense I’ve coached at Northwestern.”
NU’s midweek matchup against Notre Dame begins at 5 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Email: [email protected]