March 22, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind.- Freshman Heather Johnson (Los Alamitos, Calif./Mater Dei) made it a memorable home opener for both her and the 2007 Notre Dame softball team (10-12) with her three hits and two RBI, in a 6-1 victory over visiting IUPUI (5-13) at the Ivy Field on Thursday, March 22.
Johnson led the steady Irish offense attack with a pair of doubles among her three hits. Senior Stephanie Brown (Chandler, Ariz./Corona del Sol) also picked up a pair of hits and a stolen base. In all, seven different hitters for Notre Dame picked up at least a hit and five different Irish players drove in a run.
After sophomore Brittney Bargar (Corona, Calif./Corona) set the Jaguars down in order in the first, the Irish got the offense going early with two runs in their half of the inning. Brown pushed a single to the IUPUI third baseman to leadoff the frame. She took second on a ground out and after a strikeout came in to score the first run on Johnson’s two-out double to right-center field. Junior Katie Laing (Chandler, Ariz./Corona del Sol) followed with a double of her own to plate Johnson with the second run.
The Notre Dame offense added another run in the third inning. Sophomore Linda Kohan (Westminster, Calif./Westminster) walked with two away. Junior Sarah Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla./Heritage Hall) pinch ran for Kohan and scored all the way from first on the second double of the game by Johnson. Johnson with the hit raised her team-leading total to six doubles this season.
The Irish offense finished off their scoring with three runs in the sixth inning. Freshman Christine Lux (Glendale Heights, Ill./Glenbard West) drew a one-out walk. Lux would move to third on Beth Northway’s (Kentwood, Mich./East Kentwood) double. After a line out, Brown would push a ball to the IUPUI shortstop that allowed Lux to scamper home with the fourth run of the game. Northway also took third on the bounding ball. Northway came in to score the fifth run, as the Jaguars catcher’s throw to second on Brown’s stolen base, could not be handled and momentarily got away from the second baseman. Senior Gessica Hufnagle (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) followed by blasting a single up the middle to score Brown from second with the sixth run and final Irish run of the day.
IUPUI’s offense ruined the potential shutout with a run in the seventh inning. Sarah Needy started the inning with a single up the middle. She moved to second on a ground out and took third on Breanna Howell’s single. Susan Jones grounded out to Kohan at second to score Needy from third base for the Jaguars lone run of the afternoon.
Bargar (7-7) went the distance for the Irish, allowing only four hits and a walk with three strikeouts for her seventh win of the season. For Bargar, it was her league-leading 11th complete game of the year. Howell (4-4) took the loss for IUPUI.
Johnson went 3-for-3 with two RBI. Brown was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base. For IUPUI, Needy was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
Notre Dame will continue the long homestand and open the conference season with a doubleheader against St. John’s (3-16) on Saturday, March 24 starting at noon.
Irish Notes: The win snapped Notre Dame’s three game slide … Lux now has four hits this season, but three of them have gone for extra bases (three doubles) … this was Johnson’s second three-hit game of the year (Tennessee Tech-Feb. 17) … Notre Dame improved their record to 22-11 on home opening day since the start of the program in 1989 … the Irish also evened the all-time series with IUPUI at one game each … Kohan with her walk in the third inning has now walked 10 times on the year.