Feb. 17, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The University of Notre Dame softball team gave No. 1 ranked Oklahoma all it could handle Sunday, ultimately succumbing to the nation’s top team 7-5 in nine innings at the Campbell/Cartier Classic.
The Irish snapped the Sooners (10-0) streak of 35 plus scoreless innings entering the game, and the nearly 29 straight scoreless frames streak of left-handed starter Michelle Gascoigne.
Notre Dame (4-5) took the advantage over the nation’s number one team in the top of the sixth inning, as Laura Winter (1-4) retired the side, including two strikeouts. The Irish capitalized in the bottom of the inning, as pinch hitter Kathryn Lux opened the Notre Dame half with a blistering single up the middle. A Lauren Stuhr groundout moved Lux to second base. A single by Emilee Koerner and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Kelsey Thornton loaded the bases with one out. Katey Haus delivered a rocket single up the middle to score pinch runner Monica Torres and pull the Irish within one at 2-1. Winter grooved an 0-1 double down the left field line, and an error by left fielder Brittany Williams allowed Thornton and Haus to score to vault Notre Dame in front 3-2.
The Sooners answered in the top of the seventh, as Laura Chamberlain led off with a double down the left field line, advancing to third on a Georgia Casey groundout to shortstop. Jessica Shults sent an 0-1 Winter offering out to center, and Chamberlain slid under the tag on a beautiful throw from Megan Sorlie to tie the game at 3-all.
Winter sat the Sooners down in order in the top of the eighth. Shelby Pendley struck out looking, Williams popped up to shortstop and Destinee Martinez grounded out to shortstop to end the Sooner half.
After Oklahoma scored four runs in the top of the ninth, Amy Buntin led off the home half with a two-run home run over the fence in right center field, clawing the Irish back within two runs (7-5). Gascoigne (5-0) retired the final three Notre Dame hitters to end the game.
Koerner and Thornton paced the Irish attacked with 2-for-4 days at the plate, while Buntin chipped in a pair of RBI on her first home run of the season.
Oklahoma leadoff hitter Chamberlain kept up her torrid season start at the plate against Irish starter Winter, ripping a double off the left field wall in the top of the first inning. Casey reached on a fielder’s choice to give the Sooners a pair of runners on with nobody out. Winter then struck out Shults, Keilani Ricketts and Pendley consecutively to stall the Sooner attack.
Winter followed in the top of the second inning with a pair of strikeouts, retiring Javen Henson and Chamberlain swinging to strand Oklahoma runners on base and keep the Sooners off the scoreboard.
Winter was one strikeout from equaling a career-high, punching out a season-best 14 Sooner hitters in 8.2 innings.
Leading off the bottom of the second, Winter battled in a spirited at-bat with her counterpart Ricketts, seeing eight pitches from one of the nation’s top pitchers before hitting a hard groundout to Jessica Vest at shortstop. Ricketts forced Buntin to foul out on the third base side and fooled Sorlie with a full-count fastball to end the inning.
Oklahoma finally broke through in the third inning, as Pendley laced a two-out single to right field, plating Casey from second base to give the Sooners a 1-0 lead. Williams crushed a 3-2 Winter offering that just drifted just to the right of the foul pole in right field, nearly leaving the park for a two-run home run. Williams grounded out to Micaela Arizmendi at first base two pitches later to halt the Oklahoma surge.
Winter continued her steady outing in the circle in the top of the fourth, striking out Henson swinging and freezing Brianna Turang on a 1-2 breaking pitch to quiet the Oklahoma bats.
Thornton legged out an infield single in the bottom of the fourth inning for the first Irish hit off Ricketts in the game. The Notre Dame right fielder moved into scoring position on a passed ball by the Sooner catcher Shults. Ricketts buckled down, grounding Haus out to shortstop and fouling Winter out to first to stymie the Irish attack.
Notre Dame travels to the East Carolina Pirate Invitational Feb. 23-24 in Greenville, N.C.