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ND Softball: Irish battle to 2-2 split in Arizona

Jared Jedick | Monday, February 18, 2008

In a rare rainy weekend in Tempe, Ariz., Notre Dame came up even in Arizona State’s Kajikawa Classic, defeating Utah and Cal but losing to Western Kentucky and No. 3 Texas A&M to start the 2008 season.

Officials cancelled Friday’s game against top-ranked Arizona because of the rain.

“I like how the girls came out,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “They really showed a lot of fight, and I think it was a great learning experience.”

The Irish jumped all over previously undefeated Utah (7-1) to snag a 6-2 win in the opener on Friday.

“It was important to get our feet wet,” Gumpf said. “It was a good chance to see where our problems are in a real game situation.”

Junior Brittney Bargar got the win, allowing three hits and two earned runs in seven innings. Bargar fanned six and surrendered two solo homeruns for Utah’s only scores of the game.

The offense slugged 10 hits off the Utes and opened the game with a four-run first inning. Freshman Brianna Jorgensborg ripped a three-run double down the right-field line in the first at-bat of her college career. Fellow freshman Sadie Pitzenberger went 3-for-5 and stole three bases.

Western Kentucky beat Notre Dame 6-5 and scored the final run after an Irish throwing error in the seventh inning.

“We lost due to some things that are really controllable,” Gumpf said. “We have some growing pains that we need to work on.”

The Irish jumped out to a 3-1 lead off a Pitzenberger double and a sophomore Christine Lux sacrifice fly, but the lead would not stand.

Western Kentucky’s Rebecca Horesky hit a grand slam off of freshman Jody Valdivia to give the Hilltoppers a 5-3 advantage.

Sophomore Heather Johnson tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh with a two-run homer, but the Hilltoppers responded for the win.

The Irish lost 4-1 to the fearsome Aggies.

Bargar kept Texas A&M scoreless through four innings, before allowing three earned runs in the final three frames. Bargar also struck-out nine.

“Brittney really gave us a chance to win both games,” Gumpf said. “It was just three or four pitches that went wrong for her.”

The final game on Sunday against Cal was a chance for the Irish to make up for the previous day’s mistakes, and they took full advantage. Senior second baseman Katie Laing went 2-for-4 and had RBIs, including a two-run homer in the third inning to propel the Irish to a 4-3 comeback win.

In the bottom of the seventh, Laing showed her poise in the clutch, knocking the first pitch she saw into right-center field to plate freshman Katie Fleury.

“Katie really led this team all weekend,” Gumpf said. “She single-handedly scored three runs for us in the last game and led the team to victory.”

The Irish will spend the week working on the little things before traveling to Gainesville, Fla., next weekend to participate in the Aquafina Invitational.