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ND Softball: Irish struggle behind plate in tournaments

Lorenzo Reyes | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Notre Dame had a loaded plate over spring break when it started off the week with a doubleheader March 11 at the Long Beach Invitational. The Irish started the day with a 10-2 victory over Eastern Kentucky, but lost 9-3 to No. 12/16 UCLA in Lakewood, Calif. Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead over Eastern Kentucky with three runs in the first inning. The Irish executed small-ball play with two bunts to advance runners in the opening frame. With runners on base, junior Katie Laing drove in the final runs of the inning with a two-run double.Eastern Kentucky closed the lead to one run, but the Irish offense provided enough run support for senior pitcher Kenya Fuemmeler, who improved to 2-4 with four hits allowed, eight strikeouts and one earned run. Fuemmeler also pitched in the second half of the doubleheader, in which the Irish squandered an early lead. Both teams traded runs in the first two innings until UCLA put the contest away with insurance runs after the third inning, posting three in the fourth and two in the sixth. Sophomore Brittney Bargar was given the loss against UCLA, with six innings pitched, 11 hits and six strikeouts. The Irish traveled to Fullerton, Calif., for the Judi Garman Classic March 15 at the Titan Softball Complex, where they fell 3-0 to No. 2/4 Arizona State.Sun Devils pitcher Katie Burkhart stole the game with her first-ever perfect game. She threw 13 strikeouts in the seven-inning blanking.Barger dropped her fifth decision but earned her ninth complete game of the season, allowing six hits, two earned runs and eight strikeouts.On Friday, Notre Dame earned a 4-2 win over Fresno State in the second game of the Judi Garman Classic. Fresno State jumped out to an early lead, but the Irish answered, tying the game up in the first inning with senior Gessica Hufnagle’s RBI single. Barger relieved the senior and earned her first save of the season. The Irish dropped the second half of the doubleheader with a 4-2 loss to No. 17/16 Louisiana-Lafayette. Bargar gave up three runs in the fourth inning, which proved to be the difference Louisiana-Lafayette needed to hand the sophomore her sixth loss.Notre Dame then lost its sixth game to a ranked opponent on the season with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of No. 8 Texas. Bargar allowed only three runs on eight hits, but Texas pitcher Megan Denny threw a complete-game one-hitter, earning 13 strikeouts.Notre Dame ended the Judi Garman Classic with a 8-0 loss to Pacific. The Irish pitching suffered a rocky fourth inning, allowing six runs and handing Fuemmeler the loss. Once again, the Irish bats were silenced by another opposing pitching gem – this time from Chelsea Engle, who allowed four base runners and gave up two hits in five innings