A two-run homer by Alexa Maldonado in game two proved to be the difference for Notre Dame.

No. 23 Notre Dame Fights Back At Villanova

April 21, 2011

Game 1: Box Score | Box Score Get Acrobat Reader
Game 2: Box Score | Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Game one was a pitcher’s duel. Game two was an offensive showcase. No. 23 Notre Dame did a little bit of everything at Villanova on Thursday to sweep a BIG EAST Conference softball doubleheader, 2-1 and 10-8.

Last week against Louisville, Laura Winter (18-3) saw her nine-game winning streak from the circle come to end. But she was near flawless in today’s opener with nine strikeouts while taking a one-hit shutout into the seventh inning. Winter permitted a pair of Villanova (15-18 overall, 2-14 BIG EAST Conference) singles and one earned run in the final frame as Notre Dame held on for the win. She would go on to collect her fourth save of the season in game two.

Heather Johnson’s 21-game hitting streak – tying the second-best jaunt in school history – went to the wayside in game one, but she more than made up for it in the latter contest with her second five-RBI output of the season.

Johnson’s streak was the nation’s second-longest this season entering the doubleheader and was nothing short of remarkable. Prior to the start of the streak, which also included at least one RBI in 17 straight games, Johnson had a .204 batting average and four of her 11 hits went for extra bases. The slugger is now batting .385 with 50 hits, 50 RBI, seven doubles and 11 home runs for a .692 slugging pct.

Notre Dame (33-8, 9-1) combined with Villanova to tally 25 hits which produced 18 runs in game two.

The two teams will play one game on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. (ET). Live stats and video will be available at UND.com.

-Game 1-

The Irish were retired in order in each of the first four innings, having to wait until the fifth to put their first runner on base. That came when Sadie Pitzenberger doubled to left-center and was replaced by pinch runner Monica Torres. Torres advanced to third on a Katie Fleury single, as Fleury moved to second on the ensuing throw. Both runners were left in scoring position.

One inning later, Amy Buntin legged out a triple to right-center and scored on Alexa Maldonado’s sacrifice fly. Alexia Clay then doubled to left and plated an unearned run when Dani Miller’s grounder to shortstop resulted in a Villanova error.

That error proved costly for the Wildcats, who use singles by Jamie O’Hara and Kristi Burlin to cut the lead to 2-1 in the seventh before Winter induced a two-out grounder back to the circle to end the game.

Fleury went 2-for-2 as the Irish managed five hits off of Molly Manning (7-8). Manning fanned six, and neither pitcher walked a batter in a game that lasted a swift 1:15.

-Game 2-

Johnson got back in the hit – and home run – column with a bomb to left in the top of the first after Clay’s one-out single. Each of Johnson’s last seven home runs has been hit in BIG EAST play.

Villanova came right back in the second with three runs on four singles and an Irish error. The throwing error by Jody Valdivia on Julie Smith’s sacrifice bunt made one of the runs unearned.

Valdivia went 1.2 innings and gave up three runs on six hits before giving way to Brittany O’Donnell (6-0). O’Donnell kept Villanova out of sync for the better part of 4.1 frames, striking out four with one walk. The Wildcats managed eight hits and four earned runs with O’Donnell in the circle, the biggest of which came from a sixth-inning grand slam by Burlin to bring the home team within two, 10-8.

The Irish had built their lead with a base-clearing, three-RBI double by Johnson in the third.

Three more runs were added in the fourth when Brianna Jorgensborg followed Katie Fleury’s lead-off triple with an RBI single. After stealing second, Jorgensborg had 60 fewer feet to trot when Maldonado homered down the rightfield line.

Maldonado’s infield grounder in the sixth scored Jorgensborg from third. Jorgensborg earlier added her second hit and stolen base of the game.

Slamming the door on the Wildcats in the seventh was Winter with a scoreless frame of relief to earn her team-best fourth save of the season.

Clay led Notre Dame with three hits and Maldonado drove in three runs.

Kaity Sitzman (1-2) and Manning shared time in the circle for Villanova. Sitzman gave up nine runs – seven earned – on nine hits in 6.1 frames.