Heather Johnson had a solo home run for the Irish in a 2-1 loss to San Diego.

Blast Fest Surges Irish Past Huskies, 11-4

April 1, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Four home runs and 14 hits gave the Notre Dame softball team an 11-4 non-conference win over Northern Illinois at Melissa Cook Stadium on Wednesday. The season-high hit total went along with six Northern Illinois (9-18) errors while three of the four Irish (18-11) home runs came in a four-run fourth inning. It was the third time in program history the Irish hit three home runs in a single frame.

Next on the schedule for Notre Dame is a Saturday (April 4) doubleheader at home against Pittsburgh, with Seton Hall visiting one day later to wrap up the BIG EAST Conference weekend.

Notre Dame left seven runners on base through the first three innings and a total of 12 for the ball game. But that did not hinder the scoring output as the Irish overcame a 4-2 deficit in the fourth with nine unanswered runs. Trailing by a pair of scores in the bottom of the fourth, the Irish received home runs from Linda Kohan, Heather Johnson and Katie Fleury to regain control of the lead for good. Johnson’s home run – her first of the season – was of the two-run variety.

The Huskies did not record a hit until the top of the fourth when Dani Thompson singled to right. It was soon after that Northern Illinois brought in Ashley Cann with two outs and a pair of runners in scoring position, and Cann doubled down the left field line to put the Huskies on top, 4-2. The visitors used three hits to record three runs in the inning after plating an unearned tally in the third.

In the bottom half of the frame, Kohan sent the first pitch she saw off the right field foul pole. Johnson gave the Irish the lead as she belted a two-run homer to left field. That home run came after Dani Miller drew a one-out walk. Then up stepped Fleury, who cracked one to left to represent the third home run of the inning.

Jody Valdivia entered during the fifth and kept the ball in the infield for the next two innings en route to earning the save. She held the Huskies hitless with one walk and three strikeouts after starter Brittney Bargar (12-6) tossed the first 4.0 innings. Bargar gave up three earned runs on three hits and fanned two batters.

Christine Lux cranked a three-run home run that just cleared the right field fence during a five-run fifth inning that featured three hits, three stolen bases and two Northern Illinois errors. Johnson drove in Miller with a single to left before Lux’s crack of the bat brought home a trio of scores. Fleury doubled to left and scored on a throwing error one play later.

The Irish recorded a season-high 30 total bases with six swiped bags. Johnson led the way with a 3-for-4 showing that included three RBI and two runs scored. Fleury had three hits with Kohan adding two. Beth Northway, Kohan, Miller and Fleury each had multi-run performances on the pond.

Zoe Sinner scored twice for Northern Illinois with Cann driving home a pair of RBI. Both Morgan Bittner and Joreigh Landers tossed 3.0 innings, with the loss going to Landers after she surrendered nine runs on nine hits. They combined to strike out four batters and walked six more.