April 6, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team split its opening BIG EAST home doubleheader of the season Saturday against Villanova, taking game one 4-1 before losing 1-0 in the nightcap at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Lauren Stuhr led the Irish (25-9, 6-1 BIG EAST) offense with a 3-for-6 day at the plate, a home run and two RBI. Jenna Simon, Chloe Saganowich and Emilee Koerner each added two hits to pace Notre Dame at the plate.
Laura Winter (14-7) allowed one earned run in 11 innings of work, striking out eight Villanova hitters with no walks. Brittany O’Donnell and Allie Rhodes combined for three innings of one-run softball in the circle, with Rhodes earning the save in the game one victory.
Notre Dame and Villanova will meet in the series rubber match Sunday at 11 a.m. inside Melissa Cook Stadium.
Laura Winter retired the first six Wildcat hitters she faced, striking out Briana Fujii swinging on an 0-2 count to end the top of the second inning.
The Notre Dame starter helped her own cause in the bottom of the second, roping a leadoff single to left field off Villanova starter Kate Poppe (13-11). Lauren Stuhr made Poppe pay two batters later, drilling a 0-1 pitch over the left field wall for a two-run home run that gave the Irish a 2-0 lead. Back-to-back doubles by Micaela Arizmendi and Chloe Saganowich gave Notre Dame a pair of runners in scoring position. Emilee Koerner made the most of the opportunity, lacing a two-run single to right to score both runners and extend the Irish cushion to 4-0.
Villanova (13-18, 1-7 BIG EAST) threatened in the top of the third inning, putting runners on the corners after a pair of infield singles with two outs. Winter forced Ali Lowe to pop up to Saganowich at shortstop to strand both Wildcats on base.
Fujii led off the top of the fifth inning with a single off reliever Brittany O’Donnell. O’Donnell responded with back-to-back strikeouts of Aleshia Ayers and Taylor Olafson, and forced Shea Palmer to ground into a frame-ending fielder’s choice at second base.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth, as a Beth Smetana sacrifice fly scored Amanda Marquez to draw Villanova within three runs (4-1). O’Donnell induced a Julie Smith ground out to second to stall the Wildcat charge.
Allie Rhodes worked a 1-2-3 top of the seventh inning to earn her second save of the season.
Notre Dame loaded the bases to open the second contest in the bottom of the first inning, as Kate Poppe intentionally walked Laura Winter with one-out to create a force at any base. Poppe struck out Lauren Stuhr and Katey Haus swinging to halt the Irish offensive momentum.
Winter cruised through the top of the second by striking out the side. Beth Smetana and Briana Fujii were retired swinging, and Julie Smith was punched out looking on a 0-2 pitch to end the Villanova half of the frame.
Villanova’s Ali Lowe turned on the first pitch she saw from Winter in the top of the fourth inning and sent a solo home run over the wall in left field, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage. Winter kept Villanova off the scoreboard the remainder of the inning, and a Smith ground out to Jenna Simon at second base ended the Villanova half of the fourth.
Stuhr jumpstarted the Notre Dame fourth inning with a leadoff single to left field off Poppe. Haus worked a five-pitch walk to move Stuhr into scoring position. Poppe retired the next three Irish hitters in succession to strand both runners.
Simon made a great play on a Shea Palmer slap attempt in the top of the fifth, ranging from her position at second base to make a tremendous play near the foul line. Amanda Marquez flew out to Stuhr in left field to end the half inning.