April 5, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Two shutouts from the circle and a total of 20 hits on offense gave the Notre Dame softball team a Sunday sweep over visiting Seton Hall at Melissa Cook Stadium to finish the weekend with a 3-1 BIG EAST Conference record. Notre Dame split Saturday’s twinbill versus Pittsburgh and now looks ahead to a home doubleheader against DePaul which is set to be televised nationally April 8 on CBS College Sports.
The Irish beat the Pirates (15-16-1 overall, 5-6 BIG EAST) by a 9-0 count in game one and finished the day with a 13-0 win. Both games lasted just five innings and were marked by a soggy but very playable field. It was the second time this season Notre Dame earned wins in abbreviated contests after sweeping Toledo in a pair of five inning games earlier in the year.
Linda Kohan posted a steady line for Notre Dame (20-12, 6-2) in game one with two hits in two at-bats, two RBI and two runs scored. Dani Miller also had two hits but Erin Marrone took the cake with her first career grand slam in the fourth inning. Heather Johnson was productive at the plate with a sacrifice hit and a sacrifice fly.
Brittney Bargar (13-7) struck out seven from the bump and gave up four hits against a Pirate team that was fresh off an upset win at No. 22 DePaul. Bargar tossed with a renewed sense of confidence and walked one batter after giving five free passes in four of her last six starts. She did not give up a hit until facing the game’s 10th batter in the top of the third, as Michelle Reed and Leah Menichette each had singles in the inning.
Seton Hall’s Ashley Forsyth (5-7) recorded one out in the opening period before she was yanked after giving up four hits and three earned runs. A broad statement was made in the first inning by the Irish sluggers as Beth Northway set the tone with a lead-off single and Kohan doubled to left to put Notre Dame on the board. Johnson moved Kohan to third on a sacrifice and Christine Lux homered to left-center for two RBI.
Kohan and Johnson were walked in the third, and Miller singled back to the circle to produce the grand-slam scenario for Marrone. Marrone slammed the ball straight to center field for her second home run of the season and Notre Dame’s second grand slam on its home turf.
Two errors and a wild pitch doomed the Pirates in the fourth. Kohan’s single was the lone hit, and she would score on Johnson’s sacrifice fly.
Three consecutive innings of at least four runs was all it took for Notre Dame to take the air out of Seton Hall in the closer. A five-run opener started with Northway’s double to right. She would score on Kohan’s single down the right field line. Miller cranked a three-run home run and Alexia Clay singled home a bustling Katie Fleury to make it a 5-0 game. Northway and Kohan each had two at-bats in the inning.
Notre Dame would score four runs in both the second and third innings.
The Irish stole a pair of hits from Seton Hall in the top of the second with web gems by Miller and Lux. Marrone joined in with a running snag for the third out to keep the Pirates’ treasure chest empty. Seton Hall put up a defensive shield at times by leaving eight Irish runners on base but could not overcome three errors that resulted in four unearned scores.
Four of Notre Dame’s hits were good for two bases as Northway, Miller, Fleury and Brianna Jorgensborg each doubled. Jorgensborg and Clay had three RBI with Miller topping all players with four. Lux scored three times and Christine Farrell stole her seventh base of the season. Clay had a sacrifice fly.
The tremendous offensive output was put on the backburner as the spotlight was fixed on pitcher Jody Valdivia (8-5) for the latter frames of the contest. Valdivia was one strike away from a no-hitter before giving up a fifth-inning single to Stephanie Bontales. Valdivia pitched 5.0 innings of one-hit ball with three strikeouts and one walk. Moreover, the sophomore has now tossed 31.1 innings while allowing just one earned run, a streak that dates back to a March 22 game versus St. John’s. In her last seven appearances, Valdivia has won each of her six starts and added a save in a seventh cameo.