April 4, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Pitcher Jody Valdivia carried a no-hitter against visiting Pittsburgh for four innings Saturday and finished the afternoon with a three-hit, 14-strikeout effort to give the Notre Dame softball team a BIG EAST Conference split with the Panthers. Valdivia (7-5), who started game two at Melissa Cook Stadium, walked just one batter in the 7-1 win after Notre Dame dropped the opener, 5-2. Her 14 strikeouts matched a career high set last season against Eastern Michigan.
The Irish return to the field Sunday (April 5) for a doubleheader against Seton Hall. First pitch is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. (ET). (Note: start time has been altered from original schedule.)
Notre Dame (19-12 overall, 5-2 BIG EAST) failed to hit a home run in a game for the first time after doing so in its previous ten outings as the team could only muster six hits to begin the day. On the other side of the field, Pittsburgh (15-16, 3-7) made the most of its six hits as Ashley Amistade went 2-for-2 and scored twice, with Rebecca Tutt going 3-for-4 with a base-clearing three-RBI double in the second inning. Tutt’s double capped off a feisty 10-pitch at-bat.
Playing from behind, Notre Dame responded with a run in the third when Heather Johnson and Christine Lux hit consecutive doubles to cut into the lead, 3-1. Two unearned runs in the fourth extended the Panther lead, and Notre Dame added a second run in the sixth when Lux scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Lux reached base on a walk, Dani Miller singled up the middle and Katie Fleury singled to left to juice the three spots.
The Panthers used a pair of tossers from the circle in Cory Berliner (5-6) and Alyssa O’Connell. Berliner went 5.1 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits. O’Connell earned the save with a one-hit cameo in 1.2 innings of action.
Notre Dame’s Brittney Bargar (12-7) fell behind in the count with a number of batters but did show a few flashes of brilliance, including a three-strikeout third inning. Bargar finished with nine strikeouts, walked five, and gave up two earned runs on six hits.
The Irish left eight runners on base – three in the first inning – while the Panthers also stranded eight.
Three straight two-run innings gave Notre Dame plenty to work with in the closing game as Valdivia left the Panther bats at bay.
Beth Northway singled to left in the third, stole second, moved to third on Linda Kohan’s single through the left side but was thrown out at home on Johnson’s infield dribbler. Miller came through in the clutch with a two-out double to left-center to score pinch runners Kasey O’Connor and Christine Farrell.
Erin Marrone started the fourth with a walk and eventually scored on a Panther wild pitch. Alexa Maldonado reached on a fielder’s choice to first base that pushed Marrone to third, and she would score on a wild pitch. Maldonado hustled around and put Notre Dame ahead by 4-0 on another wild pitch.
Pittsburgh’s Kristen Cheesebrew doubled in the fifth and scored when Ciera Damon punched a single down the right field line.
Kristina Wright cranked a double to left in the fifth to highlight a two-run frame.
Kohan had two hits and Marrone added a pair with two runs scored.
Kayla Zinger (2-8) tossed the first 3.2 inning and gave up five hits and four earned runs to the Irish.