Feb. 9, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The University of Notre Dame softball team split a pair of games Saturday, dropping a 1-0 decision to Wisconsin before rallying for a 5-1 win over Charlotte at the Fast Pitch Classic inside DL Cooper Stadium.
Cassidy Whidden broke open a four-run fourth inning against the host 49ers (0-2) in game two, drilling a three-run home run to power the Irish attack. Brittany O’Donnell (1-0) shined for Notre Dame (1-1) in the second contest, tossing six innings of one-run ball.
Laura Winter (0-1) went the distance in game one against Wisconsin (2-1), yielding a single run on six hits and striking out a game-high 10 batters. Lauren Stuhr and Jenna Simon paced the Irish with two hits apiece in the opener.
The Irish return to the field Sunday at 10 a.m. against Wisconsin at the Fast Pitch Classic.
Charlotte’s first two base runners reached in the bottom of the first inning, as Alex Rogers worked a walk and Natalie Capone legged out a bunt single. O’Donnell struck out Briana Gwaltney and forced Chelsea Ingersoll into a 4-6-3 double play to escape the jam.
Notre Dame loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the fourth inning, picking up its first two singles of the day in the infield. Simon reached on a bunt single before Amy Buntin hit a looping infield single over the head of 49er pitcher Katie Watkins (0-1). Emilee Koerner hit a high pop up to shortstop, but Capone was unable to make a play, allowing Kelsey Thornton to score from third for the first Irish run of the season. Whidden broke the inning open with a three-run blast over the wall in right center field to extend the Notre Dame cushion to 4-0.
Ingersoll nearly left the park in the bottom half of the fourth, ripping an O’Donnell pitch off the wall in right field for a leadoff double. Notre Dame kept the hosts at bay, not allowing another Charlotte batter to reach in the inning to maintain a 4-0 advantage.
Megan Sorlie ripped a double to left center field to open the top of the fifth inning, and Thornton followed with a drag bunt single. Watkins settled in, forcing Simon, Buntin and pinch hitter Casey Africano to fly out consecutively for the frame’s three outs.
A sacrifice fly from Micaela Arzimendi in the top of the sixth inning pushed the Notre Dame lead to 5-0.
Allison Rhodes struck out her first career batter to open the seventh in relief of O’Donnell, getting Rogers swinging on a 3-2 offering. Kaile Lang swung through a full-count pitch of her own to give the Irish southpaw a game-ending strikeout.
Winter cruised early in the circle, striking out three of the first five batters she faced. Wisconsin’s Michelle Mueller connected on a two-strike offering with one away in the top of the second, sending the ball over the fence in left center field to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead. Winter responded by sitting down Kendall Grimm and Katie Christner on strikes to end the frame.
Stuhr laced a 2-1 pitch from Cassandra Darrah (1-0) up the middle for the first Notre Dame base hit of the season in the bottom of the second inning. After Stuhr stole second base, Darrah retired Kathryn Lux and Winter on consecutive fly outs to hold the Irish runner in scoring position.
Notre Dame threatened once more in the bottom of the third inning, as Simon smacked a single through the left side and Buntin drew a full-count walk. The Badgers escaped the inning after Darrah forcd Katey Haus to pop out to second base.
A sacrifice bunt from Lux moved runners to second and third base with one gone in the bottom of the fourth. Chloe Saganowich worked a 3-2 count to load the bases with two outs, flipping the lineup card and bringing leadoff hitter Thornton to the plate. A nice throw from Mueller at third base beat Thornton by a step at first to strand the Irish runners.
Wisconsin was held scoreless for a third straight inning in the fifth, capped by a beautiful throw from Buntin to Saganowich at second base to put out a stealing Mary Massei to end the frame.
Koerner got the Irish off to a fast start in the bottom of the sixth inning, pulling the first pitch she saw off the right field wall for a leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt from Stuhr moved Koerner to third base. Darrah struck out Lux and forced pinch hitter Sorlie to fly out to halt the Notre Dame momentum.
Winter sat the Badgers down in order in the top half of the sixth inning, striking out pinch hitter Taylor-Paige Stewart to give the Irish a chance in the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs in the home half of the seventh, Simon legged out an infield single. Buntin reached first on a throwing error by Mueller at third base, advancing Simon to third base. Darrah forced a Haus pop out to end the game.