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Irish inspiration: Strikeout Cancer is personal for Katie Marino

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Notre Dame Softball is gearing up for their 22nd-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament beginning on Friday.

The team has become known for their actions off the diamond as well through their countless efforts in their strikeout cancer campaign.

For second baseman Katie Marino, it’s personal.

The pandemic scaled back the celebrations, but the message was the same.

“In such a difficult year, the way we were able to persevere and a little event....just to find a way to still make an impact and raise over $20,000 for the cause, it means a lot,” Marino said. “It means a lot to me and my family.”

Katie’s twin brother, Anthony, was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer during their senior year of high school.

He won his battle but when Katie left for Notre Dame, the Marino’s were still navigating through post treatment life.

“I felt kind of helpless when I feel like I could’ve made a better impact if I were home,” Marino said. “But also me doing my best here and getting things done here is also something that’s making him happy and making my family happy so it’s kind of a balancing act with that.”

Katie has been able to really connect with Strikeout Cancer and has cut her hair off twice to donate.

“Seeing personally what my brother went through and seeing when he lost his hair, I don’t think people understand how big that is,” Marino said. “Just even if I make part of a wig or anything I just know that that’s going to give a little girl some confidence to not think that people are just staring at her or judging her based on her looks or anything and that she can just go out there and be confident and be doing what any other little girl should be doing at that time.”

Marino has left her mark on the field as well, ranking in the top ten in program history for assists, home runs and runs scored.

“I 100% believe she is one of the best second basemen’s in the country,” head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “She is just absolutely consistent, rarely makes a mistake”

Marino and the Irish have had one heck of season, going undefeated at home and finishing the regular season on a 14-game win streak. and Now they’re hungry for more.

“In my head, softball is 80% mental and 20% physical,” Marino said. “I think that if you have a mentality that is you’re going to get success. You’re going to get things done. You’re going to do what’s needed of you. Our team, if everyone’s on the same page with that, we’re limitless with what we can do.”

She comes from a family of athletes and her mom convinced her to use her extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic.

Now heading into her final games as a member of the blue and gold, Katie Marino is thankful she took that chance.

“I’m better as a person and as a player because of this university and to get another year of experience in that, I think I’ve grown tremendously,” Marino said. “I’m so grateful that I did it. "

Katie’s brother Anthony recently moved to Florida and is working in sales and has gotten to see Katie play this season.

Marino and the Irish are headed to Lexington to begin their quest in the NCAA Tournament.

Their first game is this Friday against Miami of Ohio at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN 3.

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