It is, of course, something of a homecoming for Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett.
The Fighting Irish skipper returns to Tallahassee, Fla., and Florida State, the school and program that Jarrett helped cement his reputation as a national college baseball powerhouse. Jarrett’s star turn for the Seminoles resulted in a brief professional career before entering the coaching profession.
But Jarrett isn’t looking back, not now. Or, at least not so far back in time.
No, Jarrett comes in again this weekend against No. 5 FSU as he did on Notre Dame’s last weekend of the 2021 season – and every other weekend during the Irish Championship run the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“It’s tough, being Super Regionals,” Jarrett said. “I told you last year, and I don’t know if people believed me until we got into the deep playoffs how good these teams are.
“So it will be a Super Regional. Louisville, ranked or unranked, I’m just telling you this team is capable of getting into the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8 as we all watch in basketball right now. That’s where we were last year, you’re in the last group of teams.
“And everyone in this conference is capable of that. You can look at who’s ranked and who’s ranked last year, and it’s tough. They are all tough. To go run and play and play you can’t do today. You’re gonna have to do it on Friday, you’re gonna have to do it on Saturday, and you’re gonna have to do it on Sunday to have a chance to win in those circles and those teams, period.
The Seminoles (16-8, 6-3 ACC) have already won league playoffs this season against Wake Forest, NC State and Duke — winning two of three games in each set over the weekend. They opened their season with an impressive sweep of James Madison.
A little unsure earlier this week how he would roll out his starting rotation, Jarrett opted to re-roll veteran and senior ace John Michael Bertrand for the series opener. The objective, after using Bertrand extensively last year as a Saturday starter, is to get Bertrand far enough into the opener that the Irish have a full complement of weapons available for the rest of the weekend.
“You can do what we did last year and you can go a little bit further in the game, and then if you have (Tanner) Kohlhepp (last year’s team’s best-drafted player) “, Jarrett said. “But if our bullpen hasn’t been as strong, we’re trying to decide if Bertrand on Friday gives you a better chance of going into the weekend than before, him on Saturday with Kohlhepp… but every team is different. The flexibility and execution of the guys in the bullpen (is key).
“That was the whole point of (Tuesday’s win over Northern Illinois). Can we continue to dial these guys in a bit so they’re better prepared, and I think comfortable. I think they come out prepared, but any freshman that gets thrown into an ACC football or basketball game, there’s this little something new about how they react to that that we’re trying to keep feeling and forcing and kind of letting them settle.”
Friday, 7 p.m., Game 1: ND LHP John Michael Bertrand (4-0, 2.19 ERA) vs. FSU LHP Parker Messick (4-1, 2.84 ERA) ACCN+
Saturday, 2 p.m., Game 2: ND TBA vs. FSU LHP Bryce Hubbart (5-1, 2.17 ERA) ACCN+
Sunday, 1 p.m., Game 3: ND RHP Austin Temple (2-0, 2.42 ERA) vs. LHP Ross Dunn (1-1, 2.00 ERA) ACCN+
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