Senior Alexa Maldonado

Fighting Irish Win NCAA Opener, 7-3, In Nine Innings

May 18, 2012

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TUCSON, Ariz. – Emilee Koerner drove in the go-ahead run before Katey Haus added a trio of insurance runs with a three-run homer to cap off a four-score ninth inning as Notre Dame posted a 7-3 win over Hawai’i in both team’s opening game of the NCAA Tucson Softball Regional Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Knotted at 3-3 in the top of the ninth, Koerner dropped a floater into left to plate Amy Buntin and put the Irish ahead, 4-3. The two teams combined for four home runs and Haus’ was her second in as many contests to advance the Irish into Saturday’s matchup between the winner of 13th-seeded Arizona and North Dakota State.

Saturday’s game will begin at 3 p.m. (MST) and will be televised live on ESPNU.

Kelsey Thornton and Dani Miller each had a trio of hits as the Irish (39-14) out-hit the Rainbow Wahine (44-8), 14-7.

Hawai’i ace Stephanie Ricketts (28-5) gave up each of the 14 Irish hits and seven earned runs with Laura Winter (28-9) tossing 9.0 innings with eight strikeouts for the win.

Kelly Majam went 4-for-5 with a pair of solo home runs for the Rainbow Wahine.

Alexa Maldonado sent the third pitch of the game over the centerfield fence for Notre Dame’s first leadoff home run on the season.

Maldonado laid down a one-out single in the third and Thornton’s second hit was flared into shallow left though both were left stranded.

Hawai’i’s second hit of the game produced its first run, a solo homer off the scoreboard in right by Majam in the third. Hawai’i entered the game ranked sixth in the NCAA with 1.63 home runs per game.

The Rainbow Wahine used the longball to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth with their second home run in as many frames as Leisha Li’ili’i went opposite field with a solo shot to left.

Jenna Simon chopped a high hopper down the leftfield line on the first pitch of the fifth and moved to second on Thornton’s third infield single. Miller, who flied out to center with two on base in her previous at-bat, blasted a two-RBI double to left-center to score Simon and Thornton as the Irish went back ahead, 3-2. Majam went yard for a second time to tie things at 3-3 in the fifth.

Winter needed five pitches to get through the sixth and the Irish had their potential go-ahead run on second when Miller singled to right and moved ahead a base on Hawai’i’s third error of the contest.

Koerner smacked a two-out single to right and Miller was thrown out at the plate trying to sneak in an extra base.

Notre Dame left two on base in the visitor’s half of the eighth but cashed in one inning later.

Buntin singled to left and trotted to third when Miller followed with a single to right-center. Koerner dropped a one-out single into left-center to plate Buntin and Haus followed with a three-run jack into the leftfield bleachers.

Notre Dame left 10 players on the pond.