March 24, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A two-game slugging clip of 1.056 – including seven home runs, three triples and two doubles – propelled the Notre Dame softball team to a doubleheader sweep over visiting Toledo Wednesday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish won the first game in five innings, 11-0, and overcame a 3-0 deficit in the nightcap for an 8-4 victory.
The Irish scored a combined 13 runs in the fourth inning of each game, posting a seven-spot in game one with six more runs in the fourth stanza of the latter affair. In fact, game two featured three fourth-inning home runs, a feat accomplished just four times in school history (each of the four have come in the last three seasons).
Notre Dame (21-5) is off to its best start through 26 games since 2001, when Liz Miller guided the Irish to a 23-3 mark. It is the best start in nine seasons for head coach Deanna Gumpf, who earned her 350th win at Notre Dame with a triumph over Eastern Michigan (March 24) in the home opener.
Toledo dropped to 6-21 after the pair of defeats.
The Irish have won eight straight and 20 of their last 21 contests heading into the BIG EAST Conference opening weekend at Seton Hall (March 27-28).
Jody Valdivia (16-2) picked up the first of her two wins in the lid lifter, nearly clinching the abbreviated perfect outing during her 4.0 innings in the circle. Valdivia gave up one hit and three strikeouts with a walk and faced 12 batters. Sam Toy had Toledo’s only hit. Jackie Bowe tossed 1.0 innings of scoreless relief with one strikeout.
Heather Johnson homered in the first to score Katie Fleury, and Christine Lux followed with a solo shot to make the score 3-0 in favor of Notre Dame. It was the eighth home run of the season for both players.
Fleury got down to business in the third by drawing a lead-off walk. After stealing second, she moved to third on Johnson’s flyout and scored on Lux’s sacrifice fly to center.
Alexia Clay’s first home run of the doubleheader was a solo shot in the fourth. Pitzenberger’s sixth triple of the season drove in Kristina Wright and Alexa Maldonado. Lux added a second sacrifice fly to score Fleury for the third time. The second triple of the inning came off the bat of Miller, and she scored on Clay’s second hit of the frame, an RBI-double to center to wrap up the seven-run output.
Brooke Gates (1-7) went 3.0 innings in the loss and was tagged for five earned runs on four hits.
Lux managed three RBI with one hit in one official at-bat. Clay, Johnson and Pitzenberger each added a pair of RBI.
Valdivia’s winning streak hit 15 games after going 5.0 innings in game two, striking out three while giving up three earned run and seven hits. Brittany O’Donnell got the save after 2.0 innings of one-hit ball.
Toledo went ahead, 3-0, after the second inning thanks to McKenna Smith’s two-run homer to left-center. Lindsey Tobias later scored on an Irish fielding error.
The Irish got some breathing room in the fourth, beginning with Johnson’s solo home run down the leftfield line to start the frame. Lux singled up the middle and Clay drove in a run with a single. Wright homered for the third time in five games to score three more to put Notre Dame ahead for good at 5-3. Maldonado homered to left-center for the sixth run of the inning. Johnson’s second hit of the inning came in the form of a single.
Toledo came back with one run in the fifth, but Clay neutralized things with a solo rocket in the bottom half.
Pitzenberger kept her streak alive with a double in her final at-bat. She would score when Fleury legged out a triple to right-center.
Clay went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Wright had three RBI and Johnson had three hits.
Both teams committed two errors and Toledo left nine runners on base.
Notre Dame had 12 hits, bringing its two-game total to 20. Twelve of those shots went for extra bases.
Hannah Rockhold fell to 4-7 and gave up seven earned runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings. Toledo did not strike out a single Irish batter.