April 8, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – One of the best BIG EAST Conference softball rivalries just got better.
Notre Dame (22-13 overall, 8-3 BIG EAST) and No. 22 DePaul exchanged a number of blows before splitting Wednesday’s twinbill at Melissa Cook Stadium. The nationally televised games saw Notre Dame drop the first affair in nine innings, 8-7, before bouncing back to roll past the Blue Demons, 5-2.
Christine Lux had five hits across the two games with a pair of home runs including a game-one shot that cleared the right field fence and landed on Twyckenham Drive, a 334-foot shot that would have sailed the right field fence at Frank Eck Stadium, the home of Notre Dame’s baseball team. Both Lux and Linda Kohan sent home runs out of the park in each of the two games as the teams combined for eight home runs on the day.
The nightcap belong to Jody Valdivia (9-5) who won her seventh straight start by tossing a complete-game four-hitter with eight strikeouts and a sixth-inning walk. Valdivia downed a ranked DePaul (21-9, 9-2) squad for the second time in a row after defeating the Blue Demons as a freshman last season.
The day began with the Blue Demons putting up a run in the top of the first on a Lauren Frankiewicz single before Brittney Bargar (12-8) left the bases loaded by inducing an infield grounder. The lead expanded to 3-0 in the second with Tara Voss’ lead-off home run to center, and alert base running that allowed Amber Patton to score on a Becca Heteniak fielder’s choice left the Irish with some significant ground to cover to get back into the ballgame.
Storming back with a five-run fifth-inning was a bashing Irish lineup that had three hits in the stanza to take back control of the scoreboard. Erin Marrone led the attack with a single up the middle and moved around on an Alexa Maldonado sacrifice bunt. Marrone trucked home when Beth Northway reached on an error and Kohan shot the first of her two home runs to right-center to tie the game. The second homer of the frame came on Lux’s two-run stroke to right.
DePaul put four quarters in the merry-go-round to take a 7-5 lead after its half of the seventh. Patton doubled to left and scored when Heteniak’s line shot barely cleared the right field fence to tie the game. Brittney Yniquez blasted a two-run shot to put the Blue Demons back ahead by a pair as the visitors appeared to take the air out of the Notre Dame sails.
Without missing a beat, Alexia Clay singled to start the bottom of the seventh and Heather Johnson drove in a run with a double to right. Lux’s double to the gap scored the tying run to continue the rally and send the game into extra innings.
The teams traded zeros in the eighth and Jackie Tarulli-Fisher doubled in the winning run in the ninth. The Irish could not convert on their pair of hits in the final inning.
Frankiewicz tossed the first 6.0 innings for DePaul and gave up five runs on four hits before Heteniak (12-6) finished the game with 3.0 innings of five-hit ball for the win. Tarulli-Fisher had three hits and an RBI for DePaul with Patton racking two hits while scoring twice.
Lux led the Irish with two hits and three RBI as Kohan drove in two runs. Bargar pitched the first 8.1 innings and gave up 11 hits and seven earned runs. She struck out six before Valdivia fired in 0.2 innings of hitless ball.
The teams combined for 20 hits, 10 of which were good for extra bases.
Valdivia did not issue a walk until the top of the sixth and kept the Blue Demons on edge with a selective and productive pitching display. She fanned eight batters in the win while give up one earned run on four hits in 7.0 innings. Heteniak was tagged for five earned runs on nine hits in 6.0 innings but helped her cause with two hits at the plate.
Lux stayed on fire with a 3-for-4 effort with two runs scored and an RBI. Marrone and Maldonado added a pair of hits as the Irish totaled nine to finish the doubleheader.
The Irish scored runs in four of the first five innings with Kohan cracking the lid with a solo dinger in the first. Maldonado’s second double of the day scored Marrone in the second as Dani Miller tacked on an RBI-single in the third. The tilt leaned in Notre Dame’s favor, 3-1, as Marrone singled to center to score Lux.
No discrimination was held against any inning as Notre Dame registered at least one hit in each of its six frames.
DePaul was able to scratch across runs in the third and fourth innings with a bit of small ball and an Irish error. Heteniak hit another home run in the fourth but Lux upped the ante with a tater in the fifth.
Valdivia held Patton hitless in game two to end her 13-game hit streak.