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ND slaughters IUPUI, Valdivia gets victory

Jared Jedick | Thursday, March 27, 2008

Notre Dame flexed its muscles yesterday in its home opener, blowing out IUPUI 8-0 at Ivy Field. The umpires called the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Irish had the victory in hand.

“It’s always good to win that first one at home,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “We played pretty well in the early part of our season, and now we just want to ride our momentum into the Big East.”

Freshman Jody Valdivia pitched five scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing only three hits. Valdivia pitched her way out of a jam in the third inning, striking out the side with two runners on base.

“If you had asked Jody [Valdivia], she would say it wasn’t her best game,” Gumpf said. “But even still she had great movement on her ball, and the opposing hitters didn’t know what to expect.”

The bats also came alive for the Irish, especially with two outs. Gumpf said clutch hitting has been a point of emphasis for her team.

“I was really impressed with our two-out hitting,” Gumpf said. “The last few weeks our hitting has really come on, and that is really clutch.”

Sophomore Christine Lux stole the show for the offense, hitting a towering solo home run over the scoreboard in deep center field. She went 2-for-2 on the night with the homer, a single and two runs.

“[Lux] hit the ball so hard,” Gumpf said. “She has just a beautiful swing and it was so pretty to watch.”

Senior Sarah Smith started off the scoring for Irish with a one-out double in the first inning. She then tagged up to third base and scored on a passed ball. Smith again reached base in the third inning, beating out the throw on an attempted sacrifice bunt.

Irish senior Katie Laing continued her recent offensive surge, smashing a two-run triple in the bottom of the third, scoring Smith and freshman Sadie Pitzenberger. Laing scored on another passed ball.

“Laing was solid as usual with runners on base,” Gumpf said. “She knocked in some key RBIs.”

Pitzenberger knocked in two runs in the fourth inning on a double, driving in Lux and junior Linda Kohan.

Some of Notre Dame’s impressive freshmen helped put the finishing touches on IUPUI. The final run was driven in by freshman Kelly Shannon on an RBI double after classmate Katie Fleury got into scoring position by stealing second base.

The Irish defense was once again solid, with freshman Brianna Jorgensborg making a spectacular catch in right field.

“Jody [Valdivia] set the tone of the game,” Gumpf said. “But the defense played a big role behind her.”

The goal for the Irish is to build momentum going into Big East play this weekend. If the Irish win the Big East, they are all but assured a spot in the NCAA tournament.

“We work to win the Big East all year long,” Gumpf said. “I expect us to be very competitive.”

The Irish will be back in action tonight at 5 p.m. against Illinios-Chicago in Chicago. The Irish then begin Big East play against DePaul Sunday with an afternoon double-header.