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ND Softball: Irish sweep pair of Big East doubleheaders

Jared Jedick | Monday, April 7, 2008

Notre Dame swept a pair of conference double-headers this weekend, defeating St. John’s 5-0 and 8-4 on Saturday and Seton Hall 12-1 and 6-2 on Sunday, extending its winning streak to six.

“The girls really showed up and played hard,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “A dominant weekend like can’t help but carry over for the rest of the season.”

Junior pitcher Brittney Bargar notched all four wins on the weekend for the Irish (22-10, 5-1 Big East). Against St. John’s (15-21, 2-6), she started the first game and came in relief in the second. Bargar (17-6) also earned her fourth shutout of the season. She allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out seven in the first game.

“Bargar threw a lot of innings and did a great job controlling hitters,” Gumpf said. “She is a very strong pitcher and I am getting out of her exactly what I expect.”

Continuing her impressive offensive output this season, senior second baseman Katie Laing went 7-for-16 with three homeruns and 11 RBIs on the weekend.

“Right now, Laing is in a position where she really wants to be at the plate; you can see it in her eyes,” Gumpf said. “When you combine her great mechanics, her confidence, and the way she sees the ball right now she can’t help but have a great year.”

Freshman catcher Sadie Pitzenberger got things going against the Red Storm, doubling home freshman outfielder Brianna Jorgensborg in the top of the third.

Laing added a run with a solo shot to right-center field that bounced off the top of the fence in the fourth. Laing added two more RBIs in the seventh with a clutch two-out single.

Freshman pitcher Jody Valdivia found herself in trouble early in the second half of the twin billing, walking the bases loaded with one out in the first. She stayed poised, however, striking out the next two batters to escape unscathed.

Sophomore Christine Lux hit a solo homerun in the second to give Valdivia the lead. That lead was extended in the fifth when Laing’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice got the runner in at home. A sacrifice fly from junior infielder Linda Kohan brought the lead to 3-0.

Valdivia again found herself in a jam in the fifth with the bases loaded and one out, but again she escaped without allowing any runs.

Pitzenberger hit an RBI single that gave the Irish some insurance in the sixth.

Valdivia’s luck ran out in St. John’s’ half of the sixth, when St. John’s senior Lisa Greer hit a two-run homerun. The Red Storm added two more runs in the inning to knot things up 4-4 and send the game to extra innings. Valdivia pitched 5 and 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits and striking out eight.

Bargar entered the game in relief to pitch 6 and 1/3 innings in the 12-inning contest to earn her second win of the day.

The two teams went scoreless for five innings until Kohan broke the game open with a solo homerun in the 12th. Freshman Shannon Kelly added another RBI for the Irish and senior outfielder Sarah Smith added two more to round out the final score.

Sunday’s double-header against Seton Hall (13-20, 2-8) saw an impressive offensive explosion from the Irish, that included two five-run innings.

“The offense is really coming along for us right now,” Gumpf said. “We can get down early and the girls are completely unfazed. They need to not be satisfied and they need to keep hungry.”

Bargar was again solid, going five innings and only giving up one unearned run with six strikeouts.

Laing, Smith and freshman shortstop Katie Fleury all had two hits, with sophomore outfielder Ashley Ellis going a perfect 3-for-3. Laing notched four RBIs to add to her impressive run.

Game two started off shaky for the Irish as Seton Hall earned an early 2-0 lead.

The Irish did not let that stand for long, as RBIs from Laing and Ellis knotted things up in the third.

Jorgensborg hit her first career home run in the fourth inning to add two more runs. Laing added two more RBIs to round out the scoring for the Irish.

Bargar got her fourth win of the weekend by again coming in to relieve Valdivia in the third. Bargar gave up two hits and no runs with three strikeouts.

One outstanding performer all weekend was Ellis, who went 10-for-14 on the weekend. She had two doubles, a home run, and three RBIs.

“Ellis had one of the most impressive weekends I’ve seen,” Gumpf said. “She was playing outstanding [softball].”

The Irish will take the field again on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Chicago to battle Illinois-Chicago.