Feb. 24, 2008
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In the championship game of the Aquafina Invitational the University of Notre Dame softball team dropped a 5-2 decision to the seventh-ranked Florida Gators on Sunday at Katie Pressly Stadium.
Notre Dame – who was facing the Gators for the second time in as many days – fell to 4-5 overall this season as Florida remained undefeated with a 19-0 mark.
Sadie Pitzenberger reached first when the Gator’s Corrie Brooks mishandled her grounder to third. Pitzenberger moved to second on a passed ball then to third when Katie Fleury laid down a sacrifice. Florida’s Stacey Nelson (11-0) struck out the next two Irish batters to end the scoring threat. Nelson would finish the game with 13 strikeouts.
Florida put together a bit of small ball to manufacture its first run of the game. Kim Waleszonia was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a Kristina Hilberth base-hit bunt. Aja Paculba singled up the middle to plate Waleszonia before Heather Johnson snagged Francesca Enea’s liner at third then doubled-off Paculba at first. Ali Gardiner’s infield grounder turned into an Irish error that pushed another run across to give Florida an early 2-0 lead.
Hilberth and Paculba each had a game-high two hits.
The Irish had runners on the corners in the top of the third with one out. Both Sarah Smith and Pitzenberger got on base courtesy of two Florida errors. But Fleury struck out and Pitzenberger was caught stealing second on the same play to end the visitor’s half of the frame.
Enea added a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to extend the Gator advantage to 5-0.
Smith recorded Notre Dame’s first hit of the afternoon – a single to shallow left – to leadoff the sixth. A single up the gut of the Gator defense by Pitzenberger put two on the pond, and Fleury drew a walk to juice the bags. Nelson fired in a double-play ball to relieve two Irish players, but Johnson delivered a two-out single to left that scored two for Notre Dame.
Irish pitcher Brittney Bargar (3-3) allowed seven hits and four earned runs in 6.0 innings and saddled the loss for the Irish.
The two teams each committed three errors in the field.
The Irish will battle Pacific on March 1 at 9 a.m. (PT) to open the Worth Invitational in Fullerton, Calif.