April 21, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Dani Miller went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI, including a walk-off sacrifice fly to score Katie Fleury from third in the bottom of the seventh to give No. 23 Notre Dame a 7-6 non-conference softball win Wednesday against Valparaiso at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Miller stroked a three-run homer in her first at-bat, one of 11 hits for Notre Dame (35-7). It was her third home run in three career games versus the Crusaders, as she homered in both ends of the 2009 doubleheader.
Sadie Pitzenberger was a perfect 3-for-3 with a run scored and Fleury added two hits and crossed the plate twice.
The game featured two ties and five lead changes with the squads combining for 23 hits. Valparaiso (27-13) left 11 runners on base but received multiple hits from Sara Strickland (3), Kelsey Phalen (2), Lisa DeBruzzi (3) and Jessie Marinec (2).
Notre Dame led, 6-5, heading into the seventh when Strickland clubbed an RBI-single with the bases loaded to tie the game. Jackie Bowe (1-2) induced a Joylyn Ichiyama popup to leave the bags loaded, leaving the door open for Notre Dame in the bottom half.
The Irish took advantage of their opportunity, loading the bases with a Fleury single and one-out intentional walks to Christine Lux and Heather Johnson. Fleury moved to second on a Pitzenberger sacrifice bunt and hustled to third on a wild pitch. That opened up the two free bags for Lux and Johnson. Miller sent a 1-2 pitch to left for the second out and bought enough time for Fleury to beat the throw home for the winning run.
Jody Valdivia started the game for the Irish and gave up a lead-off single in the first to Strickland, just the sixth opening at-bat hit surrendered by Valdivia in 30 starts. Phalen put the Crusaders ahead with a two-run home run to snap Valdivia’s 36.0-inning streak from the circle without surrendering an earned run.
Valdivia was the first of three pitchers utilized by Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf, as she gave up five hits and four earned runs in 2.0 frames. Brittany O’Donnell went 4.1 innings and gave up six hits and two earned runs while Bowe needed 0.2 innings to capture the win.
Notre Dame posted three runs in the bottom of the first. Pitzenberger recorded her first hit in 10 at-bats and went to third on Lux’s double to left. Both would score on Miller’s home run.
Fleury, Pitzenberger and Johnson singled in the second to push across Notre Dame’s fourth run, tying the game at 4-4 after DeBruzzi homered in the top of the inning. Marinec tripled and Tori Brown doubled as Valpo fell a single short of the cycle in the inning. It was the first triple allowed by Valdivia on the year.
Notre Dame went down in order in the bottom of the third for the first time against Valpo since the fourth inning of a 2008 contest between the programs.
A turning point in the game came in the fourth when Valpo had two runners on base with two outs. Ichiyama fouled a ball towards first base and Lux extended for the rock but it was snagged by Valpo first-base coach Rachel Folden, a former All-American catcher at Marshall. Ichiyama was called out for interference to end the inning.
The Crusaders left runners on second and third to end the fifth, and Notre Dame posted two in the sixth. Brianna Jorgensborg singled home pinch-runner Kelsey Thornton from second, who dove into the catcher’s body after the throw beat her home. Thornton popped the ball out of DeBruzzi’s glove and dove into the plate for the score. Jorgensborg scored to put Notre Dame ahead, 6-5, on Alexa Maldonado’s single to right.
Sam McGee gave up four earned runs on four hits in the starting effort for Valpo. Alex Lagesse took the loss after getting tagged for three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. Two walks were issued by Shaleigh Jansen in the seventh.