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Irish defeat UNC, Ole Miss to bounce back

Joe Meixell | Monday, February 26, 2007

The Irish salvaged a respectable weekend performance at the Palm Springs Tournament in California after a tough opening day.

Notre Dame (4-6), began the tournament Friday with a 7-3 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma (16-0). After the Irish got off to a 2-0 start in the first inning, the Sooners responded in the bottom of the first with three runs of their own. The Irish tied the game at 3 in the fourth on a Carissa Jaquish sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, that would end the Irish’s offensive production, as Oklahoma scored two in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead. The Sooners added two more insurance runs in the sixth to preserve the victory.

Irish sophomore Brittney Bargar was saddled with the loss after giving up seven runs in six innings of work. Oklahoma junior Laura Eckermann continued her incredible season, getting her eight win of the season after giving up two runs and striking out seven.

The Irish then faced No. 17 California in their second game of the day, dropping the team’s fourth straight in a 7-5 loss. The Golden Bears (10-6) took an early 4-0 lead with a grand slam by Alex Sutton in the first inning. Gessica Hufnagle responded for the Irish with a two-run homer in the fourth, her first of the season.

Cal padded away at its lead, taking a 7-2 lead into the seventh inning. Notre Dame was able to chip away to 7-5, but Heather Johnson was tagged out at the plate to end the game.

Notre Dame recovered Saturday, defeating UNLV (12-6) 4-3 in extra innings. Junior Katie Laing singled home the winning run in the come-from-behind win, the third time this season the Irish have won in their final at-bat. Sophomore Linda Kohan, who had three RBIs on the day, singled home two runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at three and force extra innings.

In their second game Saturday, the Irish suffered a tough loss to Cal State Fullerton 2-0. Notre Dame senior Kenya Fuemmeler and Titan Candice Baker did not allow any runs for four innings in an intense pitcher’s duel. Titan Courtney Martinez’s fourth home run of the year drove the lone two runs of the game.

Fuemmeler took the loss despite allowing only four hits over seven innings. The Irish managed only three hits off Baker in the shutout.

The Irish concluded the tournament Sunday morning on a strong note with a 3-1 win over Ole Miss (4-11). Bargar rebounded nicely from her loss against Oklahoma earlier in the tournament, allowing just one run on eight hits while pitching all eight innings for the Irish. Kohan again led the Irish offensively, driving home the two winning runs in the fifth inning.

Up next for the Irish will be a trip to Florida to play in the Jacksonville Tournament. Notre Dame will face off against Virginia, and then play double-headers with both Jacksonville and Michigan. No members of the team were available for comment following the weekend’s