NOTRE DAME — The Notre Dame softball team got two pieces of good news over the weekend.
First, the Irish earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. And second, they learned that three starters, Sarah Gentz, Alexis Holloway and Abby Sweet will all be returning next season for 5th years.
And in Abby Sweet, the Irish will be bringing back, one of the best players in the entire country.
"She is so fun to watch play the game because she finds the ball. And when she finds it she finds it well. All the time, says head coach Deanna Gumpf.
"She's fast. She's dynamic. She's one of the best hitters in the country."
That's not just hyperbole. The numbers don't lie. During the regular season, Sweet led the ACC in batting average, doubles and on-base percentage. She was 2nd in the league in hits and was the 2nd toughest to strike out.
For Abby, big success starts with doing the little things right.
"Sticking to the fundamentals every single day," Sweet says. "Doing tee work every day. Focusing at practice and taking advantage of facing our pitchers. We play them in practice and I try to use that to my advantage."
And it's not only her offense that that makes her a great player.
"Defensively she makes play a lot of people can't make," Gumpf says. "She is the real deal."
Her ability to impact the game on offense and defense, earned Sweet All-ACC honors for the 2nd time in her career, and also led to her being one of 25 finalists for the NATIONAL Player of the Year.
Asked if she sees herself as a player of the year?
"I probably don't," Sweet tells WSBT22.
"I just see myself as Abby Sweet. It's hard to see yourself on that massive scale."
But everyone else sees it.
"Abby is hands down a legitimate player of the year candidate because of her consistency," Gumpf insists.
"I see myself as a teammate and leader," Sweet says. "I'm just me, and it's worked out for me well this year."
Sweet may not sees herself as the dynamic player that the rest of the nation recognizes. But when the game is on the line:, does she want to be at the plate?
"Yeah definitely. I'll take that one."
That's exactly how the Irish want it too.