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ND Softball: Laing, pitching key in 2-1 win

Jared Jedick | Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Irish squeaked out a 2-1 victory over Toledo Wednesday behind outstanding individual performances from senior second-baseman Katie Laing and the one-two pitching punch of freshman Jody Valdivia and junior Brittney Bargar.

“A win is a win,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “We took care of business today to beat Toledo, but I feel like we could have done a better job of finishing the game and not leaving runners on base.”

Laing single-handedly accounted for almost the entire Irish offense on the day, batting 3-for-3 with a solo homerun, a double, a single, a run, and both of the Notre Dame’s RBIs.

“Katie really stepped up for us today, but she has been having that kind of a great year,” Gumpf said.

Laing hit a towering homerun over the fence in left-center field on the first pitch she saw from Rockets pitcher sophomore Hannah Rockhold, Laing’s third of the year.

“I tried something new at the plate today, and I was seeing the ball very well,” Laing said. “I hit the homerun because I was upset at missing the catch on a bloop fly-ball just before.”

It was on that fly ball the Rockets put their first and only run on the board. Rockets catcher junior Alison Hess led off the second inning with a double to put a runner in scoring position with no outs. Valdivia almost snuck out of the inning unscathed, retiring the next two batters, but with two outs, Rockets sophomore Whitney Erickson hit the bloop fly-ball that Laing just couldn’t quite reach.

Laing plated the game-winner in the third inning with a sharp line-drive to center field that scored freshman Sadie Pitzenberger. That run would prove enough, as the Rockets never had another scoring opportunity for the rest of the game.

Valdivia threw three innings giving up only two hits and one run with four strikeouts.

“Jody [Valdivia] only gave up that one real hit, and then she got hurt for it because of that little blooper to right field, which she couldn’t do anything about,” Gumpf said.

Bargar came into the game in the fourth inning and picked up where Valdivia left off, facing the minimum over the final four innings. Bargar notched the win with two strikeouts and no runs, hits, or walks.

“Bargar really shut the door on them,” Gumpf said. “Brittney is doing right now what I expect her to do all the time. She is leading the team, she is a very strong force out there on the mound, and she takes control of the hitters.”

The only complaint for the Gumpf Irish in this game was the runners they left on base. The Irish had two runners on base with only one out in both the second and fourth innings, and failed to capitalize in both situations.

“We left a lot of runners on base in scoring position,” Gumpf said. “And we really need to do a better job of driving them in.”

In the second inning, two walks and a bunt had junior Stephanie Mola and sophomore Christine Lux on second and third base, but the next two batters failed to get drive in the potential runs.

“It is an issue when we have runners at second and third and can’t score them early,” Gumpf said.

The Irish will resume Big East play this weekend with two double-headers against St. John’s and Seton Hall.