ND Softball: Irish split 10 games over break
Laura Myers | Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The Irish have a long way to go as they head into Big East play.
Notre Dame (8-10) split its 10 games over spring break, winning three of four at the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas before dropping three of five at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Cal. The squad made a pit stop in Los Angeles in between the two invites, losing to No. 5 UCLA.
“We accomplished a lot of good things and had a lot of great individual performances,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “But we went out there to make a name for ourselves and we didn’t do that. We wanted to win all 10 ball games.”
The trip started well enough for the Irish, with two Mar. 7 wins – a 7-0 shutout of Texas Tech and a 5-2 decision over UC Santa Barbara.
Sophomore Sadie Pitzenberger stood out for the Irish with a total of six hits on the day, but the day ended in a slightly unusual way. The Gauchos threatened in the seventh with the Irish up 5-2, putting two runners on with no outs, but it was over with one swing. Freshman Alexa Maldonado caught a fly ball in center field and relayed it to sophomore Katie Fleury at second. She then tossed it to junior first basemen Christine Lux, who stepped on first for a triple play to end the game.
On the second day in Las Vegas, the Irish defeated Texas Tech 5-0 but fell 5-3 to UNLV.
Junior transfer Alexia Clay had her first hit in an Irish uniform with a two-run triple in the bottom of the second, and sophomore pitcher Jody Valdivia did not allow a hit until the sixth inning. She gave up just two hits and a walk while fanning seven.
The second half of the trip featured games against four Top-15 teams. Notre Dame’s win over No. 9 Oklahoma on Mar. 12 was its first over a Top-10 team since 2005.
Gumpf said the high level of competition would help her team improve.
“For the most part we did a heck of a job,” she said. “It has made us a better team because we know what we need to do to win, and I think we’ll be able to do that.”
In the Garman Classic, though, the Irish defense cost the team.
On Mar. 12, the Irish lost an extra-inning game 1-0 to Penn State. Senior pitcher Brittany Bargar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and gave up only two hits overall, but the winning run scored after Penn State’s Sam Hovanec reached on an error and was singled home.
In the win over Oklahoma, the Irish had a 3-1 lead committed three errors in the seventh inning that allowed the Sooners back into the game. Lux scored the winning run in the bottom of the frame on an error by Oklahoma pitcher Allee Allen.
In a loss to No. 12 Arizona on March 14, the Irish allowed five unearned runs to cross the plate on two errors.
Gumpf said the defensive struggles should not be a problem in the long run.
“It’s only a concern of mine if it becomes a concern for them,” she said. “I think the more we get outside, the more we’ll improve.”
The Irish ended the trip with a 3-0 loss to No. 6 Arizona State. They hung with the defending national champions for most of the game, but were not able to capitalize on opportunities and stranded seven runners on the day.
“Our production is really half big, half small,” Gumpf said. “We’re going to take whatever they give us. We did a great job of taking advantage of situations against Oklahoma and Texas Tech. But we weren’t consistent enough with that. We fell short.”
The Irish will host a double-header against Toledo in their home opener Wednesday.
-Sophomore Brianna Jorgensborg was named Big East Player of the Week on March 9 following her performance in the UNLV Invitational. She went 5-for-9 in the four-game stretch with three triples and two home runs. She was also the first Notre Dame player ever to triple in three straight games.
“She came out and literally hit the cover off of the ball,” Gumpf said. “She played the way not many people do over a weekend.”