Senior Dani Miller

Extra-Inning Walk-Off Halts Notre Dame's Championship Run

May 12, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Jordan Trimble lined the first pitch of the bottom of the eighth over the rightfield fence to give top-seeded Louisville a 4-3 win over Notre Dame in the final game of the BIG EAST Conference Softball Championship Saturday at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player minutes after the blast left the park, Trimble led the way for the Cardinals with a 2-for-4 day at the dish and scored twice as Louisville fought back from an early 3-0 deficit with four unanswered runs.

The top-seeded Cardinals matched Notre Dame’s three runs in the first three innings with a trio in the next two to tie the affair at 3-3 to help force extra stanzas. Louisville (53-3) became the first team to win both the league’s regular-season and tournament crowns since Notre Dame did so in 2003.

Notre Dame’s Laura Winter, Amy Buntin, Kelsey Thornton and Katey Haus each were named to the all-tournament team.

The loss dropped the second-seeded Irish to 38-14 and snapped a 17-game winning streak in front of 1,065 fans, the second-largest crowd ever at Melissa Cook Stadium.

History was not on Notre Dame’s side when the game went into the eighth inning. Of the 23 BIG EAST Championship title games, only four have gone into extra innings (2012, 2005, 2004 and 2003). Notre Dame has landed on the short end of three of those four contests, save for Andrea Loman’s walk-off homer in the ninth inning of the 2003 title tilt against Villanova.

Notre Dame left a pair of runners in scoring position in the first but converted a tally in the second.

Kasey O’Connor singled the initial offering from Tori Collins into center and came around to score on Alexa Maldonado’s single to left.

The fifth Notre Dame hit on the day came in the third when Buntin laced a sharp liner to right. Buntin was thrown out trying to leg the knock into a double.

The Irish made up for it when Haus smacked her seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot to put Notre Dame ahead, 3-0.

Taner Fowler bombed the second pitch of the fourth for a solo dinger and Trimble followed with a triple off the rightfield wall. The Cardinals cashed in on Katelyn Mann’s squeeze bunt to score Trimble but Winter (27-9) and the Irish escaped with a double-play ball on a Hannah Kiyohara grounder to Jenna Simon at second.

Trailing 3-2, the Cardinals mounted a two-out rally in the fifth. Katie Keller singled over the head of Chloe Saganowich at shortstop and Alicja Wolny drew a walk to put two on base for Fowler, who singled to left to bring home Keller which tied the game at 3-3. Trimble flied out to center to end the inning.

Thornton was walked to start the seventh. Buntin moved Thornton to second with a sacrifice bunt and was joined on the pond when Miller reached first after four balls.

Thornton was tagged out heading to third on Emilee Koerner’s infield grounder to bring up Haus with two away. Louisville inserted Chelsea Leonard (10-1) into the circle and the righty got Haus to groundout to short.

Winter retired the first two Cardinal batters in the seventh and knocked Wolny on the arm to put a Cardinal runner on base. Fowler flied out to left to push the game into extra innings.

Simon roped a two-out single into left in the top half of the eighth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Maldonado grounded out to second for the third out.

Trimble’s home run was the 10th hit on the day for Louisville. Mann led all players with three hits.

Winter allowed four earned runs and fanned a pair in her first loss since April 15.

Leonard needed a mere 1.1 innings to earn the win and allowed one hit.

Collins was tagged for eight hits and two earned runs in the first 4.0 frames with Caralisa Connell adding 2.2 frames of one-hit relief.

Haus and Kasey O’Connor paced Notre Dame with two hits apiece.

Notre Dame awaits its NCAA Tournament destiny with Sunday’s selection televised on ESPNU. The field for the road to the Women’s College World Series will be announced at 10 p.m. (ET).