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Notre Dame Baseball

Jarrett, Notre Dame baseball set big goals for 2021

February 5, 2021
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Link Jarrett's studied the schedule. Analyzed it.

Knows what is now scheduled to be his first full season atop the Notre Dame baseball program, after 2020's oh-so-promising start was dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, includes a gauntlet not unlike a postseason run to Omaha, Nebraska, host site of the College World Series.

Hey, postseason in South Bend is the goal.

“First and foremost, we want to host a regional,” said Irish senior infielder Niko Kavadas, thrice honored as an All-America selection. “That's been our goal as a senior class ever since we stepped foot here. We want to host a regional and we want to give ourselves the best opportunity possible to play in the Supers (regionals for a berth in the CWS).

“Once you are hosting a regional and have done everything you can and everyone is into the tournament, it's really who's playing their best ball at that time. We want to get to that point and make sure we're hot heading into the NCAA Tournament.”

If the Irish, who raced to an 11-2 start a year ago that included a sweep at North Carolina, can advance to the NCAA's postseason in 2021, they will do so as highly battle-tested. Notre Dame opens its against Louisiana Tech Feb. 19 at LSU's Military Appreciation Weekend tournament. The Irish are scheduled to face Tech, host LSU and Air Force during the three-game round-robin format.

Notre Dame visits Wake Forest Feb. 26-28 for its Atlantic Coast Conference opening series; it serves as Clemson's ACC opener, also on the road, the ensuing weekend. The Irish wrap up their ACC-opening road tour March 12-14 at Virginia.

The Fighting Irish have back-to-back home series against Duke and Louisville March 19-21 and 26-28, respectively.

“The transition to add two more ACC series is very interesting,” Jarrett said Friday during a Zoom with reporters. “When you look at it, I think six of the teams we will play in weekend series have been in the College World Series in the past decade. You understand the magnitude of essentially, you're playing a Super Regional-caliber series the bulk of our entire season. Which is unique.

“Going to be very exciting, challenging.”

In addition to Kavadas, the Irish also return a deepened stable of pitchers – including the ability to maximize matchups with a bevy of left- and right-handed hurlers. Notre Dame lists 22 pitchers on its roster and five catchers.

“Pitching depth is a strength,” Jarrett said. “We have eight left-handed pitchers. Anybody would love to have it. We have it. I think piggybacking onto that, there's not tremendous starting, elite-caliber stuff. Tommy Sheehan probably the most elite on the front-end of that rotation with pure stuff.

“But we have plenty of options. So how we manage our bullpen matchups is going to be very critical this year. Catching depth, I think we've improved that position overall. We have left-handed bats that can catch. … The more catching options you have, the more pinch-running, pinch-hitting you can do in that position.”

Jarrett also praised the Irish's potential offensive versatility.

“We have some offensive variety,” Jarrett said. “I feel like we have some power-production. I feel like we have some speed. But inside of the speed, I feel like we have guys who understand how to run the bases and that gives you some variety in the playbook.

“I think when you see our offensive team, you'll see different types of personnel. We have a mix of right-handed hitters, left-handed hitters, switch-hitters, which is always something you like as a coach.”

Among Notre Dame's other projected ACC home series are: Georgia Tech (April 9-11), N.C. State (April 16-18) and Florida State (May 7-9).

 
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