Feb. 22, 2008
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A morning loss to Gardner-Webb was followed by a shutout win over North Florida as the University of Notre Dame softball team split a pair of non-conference games on Friday to open the Aquafina Invitational at Katie Pressly Stadium.
Gardner-Webb slid by the Irish with a 3-2 win, but Notre Dame bounced back with a 1-0 victory against North Florida. The split moved Notre Dame’s overall record to 3-3 on the season.
To start the day, Gardner-Webb’s Melody Harrell took the second pitch of the game to left-center to give the Runnin’ Bulldogs (5-3) an early 1-0 lead. Harrell and Kelly Linsley each knocked two hits off Irish starting pitcher Jody Valdivia (0-2) on the day. Valdivia pitched 3.2 innings and fanned seven batters while letting three earned runs cross the plate.
In the bottom second a Heather Johnson leadoff single got through the legs of GW’s shortstop and rolled to the fence, allowing her to reach second. Pinch runner Erin Marrone advanced a base one play later when Christine Lux laid down a sacrifice bunt. But Marrone was stranded as pitcher Taryn Beck (2-1) retired the next pair of Irish batters.
Angie Walls hit a two-RBI single to shallow left in the top of the third to make it a 3-0 contest in favor of the Bulldogs.
With two outs in the fourth, Harrell shot a triple off the centerfield wall which prompted the relief effort of Brittney Bargar, who fanned Jessi Williams to close the inning. Bargar would go on to toss the final 3.1 innings, scattering two hits without permitting a run.
The Irish scored two runs in the sixth inning after punching in four hits. A one-out rally began with consecutive singles from Sadie Pitzenberger and Katie Fleury. Johnson singled to score Fleury after Pitzenberger was forced out one play prior on Katie Laing’s fielder’s choice. Laing would come around and score when Lux dropped a single into left.
Both Pitzenberger and Fleury had two hits apiece to pace Notre Dame. GW’s Mandy Ward led all batters with a 3-for-4 day at the plate.
North Florida (7-5) gave the Irish a run for their money by loading the bases in the bottom of the third. With one out, Bargar induced a pair of grounders to retire the side – aided by Laing’s sliding stop in the hole for the third out – as the game would stay scoreless through four complete frames.
In the top of the fifth, Ashley Ellis was hit by a pitch and moved to second when Pitzenberger looped a two-out single down the leftfield line. Fleury stepped up and dropped a single in almost the identical spot as Ellis mounted her horse and scored from second, never hesitating along the way.
Bargar walked UNF’s Lauren Pulling to start the bottom of the seventh. Then what began as a passed ball resulted in Pitzenberger gunning Pulling down trying to snatch second. After Caroline Torre grounded out, Marrone made a web-gem worthy catch in right-center to lock the win for the Irish.
Barger threw 7.0 innings of shutout ball and struckout seven Lady Ospreys. She issued only a pair of walks.
Laing led Notre Dame with two hits, and Lux added a double.
A 12:15 p.m. (ET) meeting with No. 7 Florida awaits Notre Dame on Saturday.