April 17, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Brittany O’Donnell was prompted from the bullpen in the third inning during game one of the Sunday softball doubleheader between No. 24 Notre Dame and Louisville, and answered with 5.0 innings of shutout ball to help the Irish secure a 4-3 comeback win at Melissa Cook Stadium.
O’Donnell (5-0) fanned seven batters around five hits after starter Jody Valdivia gave up three runs and four hits in 2.0 innings.
Notre Dame (31-8) suffered its first BIG EAST Conference softball loss of the season in game two, 9-6, after scoring six straight runs to begin the contest. The Irish are now 7-1 in league play.
The Cardinals (32-13, 10-4) used a nine-hit, nine-run sixth inning to post the win to close the day.
Sunday’s doubleheader coincided with the program’s Strike Out Cancer game, benefiting South Bend Memorial Hospital’s oncology clinic. Head coach Deanna Gumpf’s five-year old daughter, Tatum, threw out the first pitch. Tatum was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L.) last summer and is currently undergoing treatment.
The Irish hit the road for three league games at Villanova. The two teams will square off twice on April 21 and will play a single game on April 23.
The back and forth tilt was reminiscent of Saturday’s battle in which Notre Dame needed a three-run walk-off home run by Lauren Stuhr to secure the win.
Chelsea Bemis doubled home a run in the top of the first for Louisville’s initial lead of the game, one of three hits by the Cardinal third baseman.
One inning after Alexa Maldonado was thrown out at home by centerfielder Kristin Austin for the third out, Katie Fleury beat the toss to the plate from the same spot on Brianna Jorgensborg’s second-inning single for Notre Dame’s first run.
The first of two hits by Sadie Pitzenberger drove home Jorgensborg to give Notre Dame a 2-1 cushion.
The lead changed hands again with Katie Keller’s two-run homer in the third after Valdivia issued a leadoff walk. O’Donnell gave up an infield single and walked a batter to load the bases before getting out of the jam.
Johnson homered in the third to tie the game at 3-3.
Notre Dame’s go-ahead run came in the fourth when the second triple of the season for Maldonado made its way to the corner of the rightfield fence to score Kasey O’Connor from first.
The Irish used six hits and four earned runs off of starter Caralisa Connell (18-6), who walked five and struck out two of 25 batters faced.
Tori Collins gave up one hit in the seventh.
Notre Dame saw its 14-game winning streak come to an end to close the three-game series with the Cardinals. In fact, Louisville was the last BIG EAST team to defeat the Irish on their home field in the form of a 6-5 loss in 2009.
A comfortable 6-0 lead heading into the sixth proved not to be nearly enough, as Louisville used nine hits to score nine runs and close the door on the Irish.
Louisville had recorded two hits on Laura Winter (17-3) entering the sixth.
Bemis delivered the dagger with a three-run home run, while Colby Wherry and Keller also added dingers.
Collins started in the circle for Louisville and gave up one earned run on two hits in 2.0 innings. Katie Petrino (1-0), who previously pitched in just one game this season, threw the final 4.0 innings and gave up five earned runs on seven hits for the win.
The early lead for Notre Dame started in the first with Johnson’s solo homer, her third home run in as many games.
Pitzenberger doubled to start the third and Clay singled in two runs. Clay led the Irish with three RBI.
Erin Marrone was one of three Irish players to record two hits in the game, one of which drove in two runs in the fifth.
O’Donnell pitched the final inning, striking out one with one walk without allowing a hit.