April 11, 2012
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Laura Winter’s three-hitter guided Notre Dame to a 4-1 win to open Wednesday’s BIG EAST Conference softball doubleheader at Rutgers but the Scarlet Knights forced game two into nine frames while capturing a 7-6 victory at the Rutgers Softball Complex.
Notre Dame was denied a potential 10-game winning streak and moved its overall record to 20-11 (4-1 BIG EAST).
The Irish return to the field this weekend while welcoming Syracuse (April 14-15) to Melissa Cook Stadium. The doubleheader beginning at noon (ET) on Saturday will kickoff the program’s Strike Out Cancer event. More details on the event will be available on UND.com later this week. The third game of the series will be played Sunday.
The Irish did not have to work too hard for their second-inning runs in the opener as Dani Miller wore the first offering she saw from Alyssa Landrith (12-8) and Emilee Koerner reached base on an infield error. Both Miller and Koerner advanced a bag on the same play, as a Rutgers (17-21, 6-7) outfielder’s ensuing throw found nothing but the backside of the first-base umpire.
With runners on second and third, Cassidy Whidden crushed her fourth hit of the season – and second career home run – over the leftfield fence to give the Irish a 3-0 cushion to work with.
Amy Buntin lifted a solo homer to left in the third and Rutgers’ Brittney Lindley matched the feat by going yard on the first pitch from Winter (13-7) in the bottom of the fourth.
The fifth began with a single by Jenna Simon, who found an infield seam with a crafty slap to the right side of the dirt. Simon stole second but later became one of three Irish runners left on base in the contest.
Winter gave up a single, double and home run in her starting role. The complete-game effort saw the righty allow three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Winter retired 12 of the last 13 batters she faced in the contest.
Kelsey Thornton led the Irish with two hits.
With the bases loaded in the third, Miller grounded out to advance each runner one bag as Alexa Maldonado trotted home.
Speedsters Maldonado and Simon produced one-out singles Buntin was walked to set the table for Miller’s RBI.
Things were a bit quiet in the fourth until Chloe Saganowich smacked an RBI double to the wall in center to plate pinch-runner Monica Torres from second. Torres had replaced Haus, who was hit by a pitch to leadoff the frame. O’Connor drew a walk and scored Notre Dame’s second run of the inning on a throwing error by Scarlet Knight catcher Kylee Bishop in a botched pickoff attempt.
Maldonado skied a sacrifice fly to right for the third run of the inning as Notre Dame built a 5-0 lead.
Two Irish errors helped Rutgers load the bases in the home half of the fourth. Jackie Bates singled in a run and Ashley Alden’s popper to left had just enough juice to clear the fence for a grand slam to knot the score at 5-5.
Chandler Howard gave Rutgers its first lead of the day with a solo dinger in the bottom of the fifth off of Winter, who stepped in for O’Donnell midway through the fourth after the starter went 3.1 innings and allowed three earned run on five hits.
Simon represented the tying run in the top of the seventh after reaching first base with a single up the middle. Simon soon stood on third after the bag went unoccupied when the Rutgers defense scrambled to field Maldonado’s attempted sacrifice bunt that turned into a single.
Buntin ripped a one-out single through the left side to score Simon and Rutgers left two Irish runners on base when Landrith retired Miller and Koerner.
Rutgers put the winning run on second as Kylee Bishop knocked a one-out double in the bottom of the eighth. Bishop remained on second when Winter sent back the top two batters in the Scarlet Knights’ lineup.
Winter threw 5.0 innings of relief and permitted two earned runs on four hits.
Landrith was credit for the win after tossing the final 5.2 innings, scattering four hits and one earned run.
Consecutive doubles by Jennifer Harabedian and Chandler Howard did the deed for Rutgers in the ninth for the program’s first win over Notre Dame since 2008.
Maldonado and Thornton finished with two hits apiece, as both Notre Dame and Rutgers registered nine team hits and two errors.