May 4, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team capitalized on a bases loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning of game one Saturday to defeat No. 9 Louisville 5-4. The Cardinals gained a measure of revenge in the second contest, downing the Irish 15-1 in five innings to set the stage for the de facto BIG EAST regular season championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The game one win was the first for the Irish (40-12, 18-3 BIG EAST) this season over a top 25 opponent, and the program’s 61st against a ranked foe in its 25-year history. It was also the first victory for Notre Dame over a team ranked in the top 10 nationally since a 2-1 triumph over then-No. 9 Oklahoma on March 16, 2011.
Emilee Koerner led all Notre Dame batters with two hits and three runs scored during the doubleheader, while Jenna Simon, Katey Haus and Laura Winter each added two hits apiece. Winter’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning of game two was her 17th of the season, tying Christine Lux and Heather Johnson (2010) for the most in a single season in program history.
Notre Dame raced out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as an Amy Buntin single to left field scored Emilee Koerner from third base. Two batters later, Katey Haus crushed a 2-2 pitch from Caralisa Connell over the left field fence, plating Buntin and extending the Notre Dame cushion to 3-0.
Louisville (45-9, 18-3 BIG EAST) got on the scoreboard in the top of the second, as Maggie Ruckenbrod drove a solo home run out and gone to left field to trim the margin to 3-1. Later in the inning, Katie Keller attempted to score on a Whitney Arion single, but was gunned down at the plate on a beautiful throw from Lauren Stuhr in left field to end the half inning.
A solo homer for Alicja Wolny in the top of the third inning brought the Cardinals with one run at 3-2. Laura Winter (26-9) answered by striking out Ruckenbrod swinging to halt the Louisville offensive.
Koerner pushed the Irish lead back to two runs in the bottom of the fourth, sending the first pitch she saw from Rachel LeCoq (20-5) deep and gone to left field (4-2).
Louisville would not go away, drilling a pair of home runs in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-4. Buntin threw out Katelyn Mann attempting to steal second base to stop the Cardinal surge.
The Irish made the most of a bases loaded opportunity in the bottom of the seventh. Koerner worked a 3-1 walk against LeCoq and advanced to second on a bunt single from Jenna Simon. A Buntin sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. After Winter was intentionally walked, Haus plated the winning run with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Koerner from third.
Brittany O’Donnell posted a second straight zero on the Louisville side in the top of the second inning, forcing Katie Keller to fly out to center field, Hannah Kiyohara to fly out to right field and striking out Taner Fowler swinging.
Louisville struck for three runs in the top of the third, all coming on an RBI double off the right field wall by Alicja Wolny to give the Cardinals a 3-0 advantage. O’Donnell (12-3) retired the final two Louisville hitters in the half of the inning to escape the jam.
Laura Winter broke through in the bottom of the fourth, tattooing the first pitch she saw from Rachel LeCoq screaming over the left field fence to bring the Irish within two runs at 3-1. The solo shot tied the Notre Dame single-season record, set in 2010 by Christine Lux and Heather Johnson (17).