Alexia Clay's three-run home run in game one gave Notre Dame a huge boost en route to sweeping Butler.

Fighting Irish Blast By Butler

April 7, 2011

Game 1: Box Score | Box Score Get Acrobat Reader
Game 2: Box Score | Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame held Butler to one earned run during Thursday’s non-conference doubleheader at Melissa Cook Stadium while handing the Bulldogs a pair of losses, 5-0 and 6-1.

Jody Valdivia (6-4) matched a career-best mark during her game-one shutout with 14 strikeouts. Valdivia went the distance and allowed two hits while issuing a pair of walks.

The offense provided eight hits in each of the two games, five of which came from Heather Johnson. Johnson drove in four runs as Alexia Clay went 2-for-5 in the doubleheader with five RBI, including a three-run homer in the opening contest.

Butler’s defense led to 19 stranded Irish runners on the day but also committed five errors. Seven of Notre Dame’s 11 runs were earned.

The Irish (24-7) have now won seven straight games, their third streak of six or more wins this season.

Next up is a three-game BIG EAST Conference series at Syracuse (April 9-10).

-Game 1-

Butler (18-13) was kept off balance by Valdivia throughout the contest, as only Meaghan Sullivan and Jessica Huey tallied hits.

The Irish got runners – and left runners – on base in each inning, including three in both the first and second frames.

Clay’s second-inning home run scored Laura Winter and Brianna Jorgensborg.

Jorgensborg produced a run in the fifth with a triple to right field, bringing home Amy Buntin. Buntin reached base on a Bulldog fielding error.

Notre Dame would score another run in the fifth on Johnson’s RBI single up the middle to take a 5-0 lead.

Jenny Esparza (6-5) took the loss for Butler. Notre Dame pounded out seven hits and three earned runs against the Bulldog starter who also walked eight batters.

Breanna Fischer held the Irish in check with a one-hit inning of relief on the rubber.

Both Johnson and Buntin went 2-for-4.

-Game 2-

A strong starting effort in the circle by Brittany O’Donnell included 3.0 innings of five-hit ball. The Bulldogs left five runners on base over that span and scored one run in the top of the third on Jessica Huey’s two-out infield single.

Jackie Bowe stepped in and hurled an inning of scoreless middle relief, with Laura Winter (13-2) entering the game in the fifth with the game knotted at 1-1.

Winter was tagged for one hit to close the game and struck out seven straight batters.

Butler used three pitchers, with Fischer (3-2) taking the loss. Fisher was rattled by four Irish hits and five runs in 1.2 frames. Leahy Bry faced two batters in the seventh and gave up one hit.

Notre Dame answered Butler’s run by manufacturing a run in the bottom of the third. Alexa Maldonado doubled to left-center, moved to third on Clay’s sacrifice bunt and crossed the plate when Johnson reached on a throwing error.

Johnson added an RBI single to left in the fifth to put Notre Dame ahead, 2-1, giving Maldonado the second of her three runs in the game.

The Irish used three hits and one Butler error to plate four insurance runs in the sixth.

A two-out double by Sadie Pitzenberger set the table for Clay’s two-RBI double. Johnson brought her RBI total to three by driving in a pair of runs with a single to left. Clay and Maldonado mounted their horses on the play and sprinted away at the crack of the bat, which provided enough hustle to negate the effect of a bobbled fielding effort by left fielder Lauran McNulty.

Johnson led all players by going 3-for4. McNulty had two hits for Butler.