May 21, 2010

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Timely hitting and aggressive baserunning by Notre Dame in the eighth inning of Friday’s NCAA Softball Championship matchup with Illinois State made all the difference for the twenty-fourth ranked Irish and rewarded head coach Deanna Gumpf with her 378th win at Notre Dame with a 1-0 victory.

Gumpf became the program’s all-time leader in wins for a head coach, surpassing nine-year veteran Liz Miller (1993-2001), by sending Christine Lux home from second base on an Alexia Clay fielder’s choice in the south side of the eighth inning at Michigan’s Alumni Field. With the bases loaded and one out, Clay’s grounder to third base was thrown home to relieve pinch-runner Amy Buntin for the second out. Redbird catcher Elizabeth Kay fired to first in an attempt to double-off Clay, but her throw pulled Michelle Henderson off the bag. Gumpf waved home a sprinting Lux for the game-winning score, as Lux slid around Kay’s tag at the plate to touch safely for the deciding run.

With the win over third-seeded Illinois State (32-19), second-seeded Notre Dame will now play at noon (ET) on Saturday against the winner of the Friday evening matchup between top-seeded Michigan and fourth-seeded Wright State in the Ann Arbor Regional.

Notre Dame (46-10) recorded two of its seven hits in the final frame to claim its first extra-inning victory since 2008. Heather Johnson and Lux both singled in the eighth, as Lux blasted a pair of doubles earlier in the contest. Lux’s two-bag total now stands at 17 for the season, putting her in a five-way tie for first place on the single-season chart.

Jody Valdivia (37-5) broke a 16-year old record with her 16th shutout in 2010. Terri Kobata had 15 during the 1994 senior campaign. Valdivia was pegged for nine hits but mixed eight strikeouts with a stellar showing from the Irish defense to earn the win.

Illinois State left nine runners on base, due largely in part to a number of clutch plays by the Irish leather. Brianna Jorgensborg, who had a single and a sacrifice at the plate, snagged Abby Olson’s bomb to wall in right in the third for the final out of inning. Two runners were in scoring position when Johnson ended the fourth with an unassisted double play at third base. Johnson then gloved the third out in foul territory with the bases loaded in the fifth, and Maldonado gunned down Michelle Henderson at third base from her centerfield position to close out the eighth.

Katie Fleury doubled for the Irish and Sadie Pitzenberger had a base hit as the lefty returned to the lineup after a one-game hiatus.

Megan Warner (15-10) could not get any run support from an offense that was led by Beth Current’s three hits. Jhavon Hamilton added two more for the Redbirds.

Warner walked two, struck out for more and gave up an earned run.