April 2, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior Heather Johnson’s two RBI walk-off double in the opening game of Saturday’s BIG EAST Conference softball doubleheader against Providence not only gave Notre Dame a 12-4 five-inning win, but capped off a five-RBI effort in the contest which brought Johnson’s career total to 175. That magic number eclipsed the program-best mark (174) shared by Christine Lux and Jarrah Myers, as Johnson would add to that total by driving in two more runs during a 7-3 game-two victory at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The performance placed another feather in the cap of Johnson, who also set the single-season RBI record in 2010 by driving in 68 runs. She finished 5-for-6 (.833) in the twinbill with two doubles and a home run.
Johnson’s hitting has taken a tremendous turn for the better since Notre Dame started the home portion of its schedule, as she carried a .224 average with 12 hits, two home runs and 12 RBI while playing away from Melissa Cook Stadium. In five home games, Johnson is 12-for-17 (.706) with three doubles and 15 RBI while notching one home run in three of the last four affairs.
Notre Dame goes for the three-game sweep of Providence at 11:00 a.m. (ET) on Sunday. Live video, audio and stats will be available at UND.com.
Notre Dame (20-7 overall, 2-0 BIG EAST) scored in all but one of the five innings, striking early with five runs in the opening stanza.
Eleven hits in the game helped plate a season-high 12 runs, beginning with Alexa Maldonado’s single to left. Alexia Clay reached on one of two Providence (13-19, 1-3) fielding errors and Maldonado scored on a fielder’s choice to second by Johnson.
Dani Miller singled to right to score Clay and Katie Fleury snapped a three-game hitless streak in grand fashion with a three-run homer to left. Fleury, who had four RBI in the game, wrapped up the scoring in the first frame.
Johnson followed Clay’s second-inning single with a two-run homer to right-center.
The Friars smacked three hits for three runs in the top of the third to pull within five, 7-2, as Morgan Culver delivered the damage with a two-RBI double to left.
Both teams traded runs in the fourth.
Sadie Pitzenberger posted a fifth-inning single in her season debut and Clay doubled to right to plate a pair. Clay and Maldonado both scored on Johnson’s game-ending double.
Laura Winter (10-2) held the Friars in check with 10 strikeouts, her second straight game with double-digit punchouts. She scattered four earned runs on eight hits.
Eleven of Notre Dame’s 12 runs were of the earned variety from Corinne Clauss (5-9) offerings. Clauss dealt with control issues, walking six with three strikeouts.
Clay scored three times and reached base with a pair of hits. Maldonado was 2-for-4 with two runs scored as Johnson led all players with three hits.
Solo home runs for Providence by Jen Abrams, Justine Stratton and Jessie Bryant knotted the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth.
Notre Dame posted its first three runs in the second and all came with two outs. Brianna Jorgensborg singled to right to bring home Amy Buntin and Johnson drove across Maldonado and Jorgensborg with another single
The bottom of the sixth saw Notre Dame crank out four runs on four hits to blow the game open in favor of the home team.
Clay sent a 3-2 delivery from Alicia Grosso (8-10) over the fence for two scores, which soon prompted Clauss’ return to the circle for the Friars. It paid off little, as Fleury was walked and Pitzenberger single home Johnson with a bloop single to right. Fleury later scored on Providence’s fourth error, a throwing error by catcher Kim Pelland in an attempt to snag Buntin at first. Buntin was pinch running for Pitzenberger.
Multi-hit efforts were turned in by Maldonado (2), Johnson (2) and Jorgensborg (2). Clay and Johnson drove in two runs apiece. Maldonado also stole two bags.
Grosso was charged with the loss after 5.1 innings of work which produced eight hits and six earned runs. Clauss went 0.2 innings and surrendered one run and one hit.
Jody Valdivia started from the circle for Notre Dame and went 5.2 innings. Valdivia allowed four hits – three of which were solo home runs – with eight strikeouts. The win went to Brittany O’Donnell, her fourth straight in as many decisions this season. O’Donnell entered in the sixth and fanned a pair while giving up one hit in 1.1 frames.