April 18, 2010
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One day after seeing its nine-game winning streak come to an end, No. 24 Notre Dame responded with a strong showing at Ulmer Stadium to deal No. 25 Louisville a 3-1 BIG EAST Conference softball defeat. The win improved Notre Dame’s record to 34-7 (12-1 BIG EAST) and gave the Irish a 2-1 edge in the regular-season series with the Cardinals (27-15, 6-5).
Jody Valdivia (27-3) walked one but kept the Cardinals on their heels all afternoon. She was backed by a defense that, despite committing one error that led to an unearned Cardinal run in the bottom of the seventh, made big stop after big stop throughout the day.
It was not a great omen for the Irish when Sadie Pitzenberger, one of the nation’s toughest to strikeout, was fanned in the game’s opening at-bat. It was the first of nine for Cardinal pitcher Tori Collins (9-4), who recorded the game-two win versus Notre Dame on Saturday.
Louisville was poised to break the game open in the bottom of the third. Katelyn Mann doubled to left and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. Melissa Roth was walked to put two on with one out. Roth attempted to steal second on the next pitch which pulled Mann off of third. Irish catcher Kristina Wright feigned a throw to second and busted Mann in a rundown which resulted in the third Cardinal out.
Notre Dame’s bats were resuscitated in the fourth starting with Katie Fleury’s leadoff triple down the rightfield line. While rounding second, Fleury’s helmet flew off as she went head-first into third and her hustle rallied the Irish lineup as Heather Johnson was walked and Christine Lux pounded a Collins offering to right-center, landing the rock beyond the stadium’s two-tier berm. That home run proved to be the game winner.
The Irish left two Cardinals on base in the fifth after Fleury made a smooth diving stop and retired a speeding Jennifer Esteban at first. UofL left four ducks wading in the pond on the day.
Colby Wherry doubled to start the home half of the seventh and the Cardinals scratched across one unearned run. UofL had the tying run at the plate but Valdivia’s fourth and final strikeout of the day ended the Cardinal threat.
Notre Dame was out-hit by Louisville, 5-3, as each of the Irish knocks went for extra bases.
Alexia Clay doubled for Notre Dame. Alicja Wolny and Mann each had two hits for Louisville.