April 16, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A single stroke of the bat by Lauren Stuhr in the bottom of the seventh resulted in a three-run home run which gave No. 24 Notre Dame an 8-5 BIG EAST Conference softball win over Louisville Saturday at Melissa Cook Stadium. Tied 5-5 heading into the seventh, Stuhr’s only at-bat punctuated a string of four straight Irish runs to end the rain-soaked contest.
Notre Dame (30-7 overall, 6-0 BIG EAST) used Stuhr’s second career home run to extend its winning streak to 13 games. Joining Stuhr in the longball department was Heather Johnson, whose team-leading eighth home run in the first inning moved her hitting streak to 19 games and put the Irish ahead, 1-0.
The Cardinals (31-12, 9-3) lost their second straight game on the heels of posting 12 consecutive wins despite taking a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Colby Wherry’s two-run dinger.
Answering in the bottom of the fifth for Notre Dame was Amy Buntin with a sacrifice fly that plated Johnson from third, and Dani Miller scored on the play when Cardinal catcher Maggie Ruckenbrod misplayed the incoming throw from centerfield.
The battle between two of the league’s top teams lived up to its billing as the Cardinals scored a pair in the top of the sixth to go back on top, 5-4. Kristin Austin homered to right to bring in the two runs for the visitors.
In the bottom half of the sixth, Johnson’s third hit of the day landed in left and Brianna Jorgensborg never hesitated while rounding third to beat the throw home, tying the game at 5-5.
Jorgensborg scored two runs for Notre Dame, as did Johnson and Erin Marrone.
Laura Winter (17-3) retired six of the final seven batters she faced, as only Hannah Kiyohara reached base over that stretch on one of Notre Dame’s three errors in the game. The errors were the first three committed by Notre Dame this season in BIG EAST play.
Jorgensborg and Marrone drew back-to-back two-out walks in the seventh and Stuhr’s game-winner went down as the 10th hit for Notre Dame.
Sadie Pitzenberger went 3-for-3 and drove in a run in the fourth with an RBI double.
The Irish stranded eight runners and were twice caught stealing. Notre Dame was unable to cash in on golden opportunities early, leaving the bases loaded in the second and stranding three on the pond in the third.
But the defense stood behind Winter as the righty scattered nine hits and gave up five earned runs. Winter walked one with five strikeouts. The first 23 of her 24 pitches were good for strikes.
Tori Collins (12-6) stepped in for a save opportunity with two runners on base in the sixth but eventually gave up three earned runs on two hits. Collins was charged with the loss after pitching the final 1.2 innings.
Cardinal starter Caralisa Connell was left without the decision and did not strike out a batter in 5.0 innings of eight-hit ball. Notre Dame scored five runs with Connell in the circle, four of which were earned. Connell walked seven batters.
Austin had three hits for Louisville with Wherry and Katie Keller adding a pair apiece. Wherry and Austin each had two RBI.
The second game of the Saturday’s doubleheader was postponed due to rain. Two games will be played on Sunday beginning at noon. Complete coverage – live video, audio, blog – will be available at UND.com.