March 2, 2008
FULLERTON, Calif. – The University of Notre Dame softball team opened the Worth Invitational with a pair of non-conference wins Saturday at Anderson Family Field. An 11-3 win over Pacific was parlayed with a 6-5 victory against UC Davis to improve Notre Dame’s overall record to 6-5.
Junior pitcher Brittany Bargar (5-3) tossed 5.1 innings of three-hit ball without letting an earned run cross the plate as she earned two wins from the circle. She was aided by an Irish offense that produced 17 runs off 20 hits on the day.
Notre Dame will close out the Worth Invitational against host Cal State Fullerton Sunday at 3 p.m. (PT).
A steady drizzle provided a slick field in Notre Dame’s first meeting of the day. The Irish and Pacific (6-11) combined to commit 13 errors in the five-inning game. The battle began with Sadie Pitzenberger reaching first in the home half of the opening inning on a Tiger error, then two Irish sat on base when Katie Fleury snuck a bunt past a charging infield. A double down the rightfield line by Katie Laing scored two runs. Laing moved to third on another Tiger error and would trot in to score when Heather Johnson shot a sacrifice fly to left.
Bargar – who walked the second batter of the game – retired six straight and did not allow a hit until Lindsey Pierce singled to left in the third. She finished with four strikeouts in 4.0 innings of action before Christine Ferrell finished the job with a shutout fifth frame.
Pitzenberger led off the third courtesy of another fielding error, stole second, then scored when Laing registered her game-high tying third RBI with a single up the middle. Johnson’s second RBI scored Laing, and Beth Northway came through with an RBI-single to score Ashley Ellis, who was pinch-running for Johnson. The fourth score of the stanza came off the bat of Erin Marrone, who doubled to left-center to give Northway enough time to tally a run.
Pacific notched its three runs on two hits and four errors in the top of the fourth to make it a 7-3 game in favor of Notre Dame. But they gave the scores right back when the second of Notre Dame’s two four-run innings came in bottom half, though the Irish did not record a hit over that stretch. Four errors by Pacific helped set the final score.
Laing and Pitzenberger each scored three times. Laing and Johnson also had three RBI. Heidi Helberg (3-2) gave up seven hits and seven runs in 3.0 innings for Pacific.
UC Davis jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the nightcap when Julie Stauder doubled home Michelle Espiritu to start the game.
In the bottom of the second, Northway singled back to the circle and advanced to second on a passed ball. Linda Kohan laid down a bunt to move Northway to third. A 10-pitch at-bat by Marrone resulted in her reaching first on a fielder’s choice to leave two Irish on base. Ellis followed infield single that scored Northway to tie the game.
Notre Dame took a 4-1 lead in the fourth when Ellis lit a screamer over the leftfield fence for her second homer of the season that scored three runs. Marrone drew a walk and Brianna Jorgensborg singled up the middle before Ellis’ bomb.
The Irish added a run in the fifth after recording five hits – all singles – to build a 5-1 edge. Notre Dame racked Aggie pitcher Jessica Hancock (6-5) for 13 hits in the game. That season-high hit total signified the most knocks Notre Dame has recorded in a game since it registered 16 against Syracuse on April 1, 2007.
UC Davis came back to knot the score at 5-5 with four runs on five hits in the top of the sixth. Trish Paine began the rally with a triple to center. She would score before Deanna Menapace hit a solo homer to left. Erin Emde singled to center and Ashley Johnson doubled to left, but Sarah Smith’s throw back into the infield was relayed from Laing to Kohan at third to snag the runner trying to earn an extra bag on the play. With two on, Sarah O’Neill homered to left to bring the game to a draw. Bargar stepped in to replace Irish starter Jody Valdivia – who tied a career-high with nine strikeouts – with two outs and fanned Sarah Axelson to stop the Aggie threat.
Timely hitting and sharp small-ball in the bottom of the sixth helped Notre Dame capture the win after they blanked UC Davis in the top of the seventh. Pitzenberger singled to second to begin Notre Dame’s portion of the sixth, stole second, and moved to third on Fleury’s sacrifice bunt. Laing strolled in and squeezed Pitzenberger home for the winning score.
Each Irish batter recorded at least one hit in the game. Pitzenberger, Smith, Northway, and Ellis each punched in multi-hit efforts at the plate.