May 3, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A heartbreaking 6-5 opening loss to No. 18 Louisville was neutralized by a convincing 7-4 victory as the Notre Dame softball team split its Senior Day doubleheader Sunday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The BIG EAST Conference twinbill was highlighted by 22 Notre Dame hits – including four Irish home runs – in front of a record crowd of 1,246 fans.
Notre Dame (38-15 overall, 19-4 BIG EAST) secured the second seed for the conference tournament next week at Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium while Louisville (46-8, 19-5) settled for the third spot overall.
Louisville used a four-run seventh inning in the opener along with a costly Irish error with the bases loaded to overcome a 5-2 deficit for the win. Kristi Cunningham skied a shot to the infield that was misplayed by Notre Dame as two unearned runs crossed the plate which proved to be the difference in the contest.
Vanessa James singled through the left side and scored on Melissa Roth’s triple to right-center in the third. Roth trotted home on a Chelsea Bemis single up the middle as Louisville took a 2-0 lead.
Notre Dame got both of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning beginning with a Beth Northway single. Heather Johnson singled in front of Christine Lux, who also singled to right field to score two runs.
The Irish left two runners in scoring position despite recording a pair of singles in the fourth. Katie Fleury and Alexia Clay each had base hits along with a sacrifice bunt by Stephanie Mola. The defense stood strong two leave Cardinals on second and third in the top of the fifth.
Lux launched a home run over the scoreboard in left-center to put Notre Dame on top, 3-2, which also tied her single-season record of 15 dingers.
Erin Marrone doubled in a run with a shot to center field to plate Fleury, who singled to start off the inning. Clay caught the Cardinals off guard with a sacrifice bunt to put Marrone on third and Brianna Jorgesnborg was hit by a pitch to leave runners on the corner for Northway. Jorgensborg stole second and Northway drove in a run with an infield groundout.
Roth made it a game with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to bring the Cardinals within one, 5-4. Kristin Austin represented the tying run as she stood on first after a hit to right field. Colby Wherry singled off relief pitcher Jody Valdivia to load the bases before Cunningham’s infield flyball.
Roth led the Cardinals with two hits, two runs and three RBI. Northway, Lux and Fleury each had two hits for Notre Dame as Lux drove in a pair of scores.
Kristen Wadwell (39-7) went the distance after surrendering four earned runs on nine hits with five strikeouts in 7.0 innings. Starting the game for Notre Dame was Brittney Bargar (21-10), who gave up four earned runs on nine hits. Valdivia fanned a pair of batters and gave up one hit in 0.2 frames.
Notre Dame went to pound town in game two with 13 hits, eight of which were good for extra bases. Johnson was a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBI. Northway, who had two doubles, drove in two runs along with Linda Kohan’s two-hit and two-RBI performance. Marrone and Clay added two hits each.
Valdivia (17-5) stayed perfect against BIG EAST teams this season with the complete-game win after striking out five. Tori Collins (7-1) suffered her first loss of the season by giving up seven earned runs in 6.0 innings.
Roth took the second pitch of the game to left-center for a double and eventually scored to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. But Kohan bounced a home run off the scoreboard to knot the contest after one complete frame.
Marrone pumped a double to center to start the second and traded spots with Northway after the designated player doubled to left-center.
Clay ended up on second after a fourth-inning single and Maldonado’s sacrifice bunt. Northway busted another double to left field to score Clay, and Kohan’s single to right bought Northway enough time to beat the throw home for Notre Dame’s fourth run. Johnson stepped in and shot a two-run home run to left-center and Lux followed with a double off the first baseman’s head.
Marrone went yard in the fifth with a solo home run to right-center to start the inning.
Kristi Cunningham hit a home run to center to begin the sixth.