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ND Softball: Long balls propel two victories

Laura Myers | Thursday, March 26, 2009

It was a windy evening, but the Irish bats didn’t need any extra help to clear the fences at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Notre Dame (14-11) hit five home runs to fuel its 6-1 and 8-1 victories over Western Michigan (6-12) on Wednesday. “They crushed those balls,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “Every single one was legit.”

The Broncos jumped on senior pitcher Brittany Bargar (9-6) early, scoring one run on two singles in the top of the first. However, it was all they would get, as Bargar gave up only four hits for the rest of the game.

The Irish answered with one of their own in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly by junior first basemen Christine Lux.

Then the show really began.

Sophomore left fielder Brianna Jorgensborg got the Irish started in the bottom of the second with a one-out walk. Junior catcher Alexia Clay followed with a two-run blast to left that put the Irish on top. One out later, sophomore second baseman Katie Fleury added another run with a solo homer.

“We usually struggle with slow pitchers,” Gumpf said. “But what was really important was when their pitchers missed, they took advantage.”

Jorgensborg sparked the offense twice more with an RBI single in the third inning and a home run to left center in the sixth to cap the scoring for the Irish.

Notre Dame came out fast in the second game of the doubleheader as well.

Fleury began the bottom of the first with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Junior third basemen Heather Johnson and Lux then walked to load the bases for freshman second basemen Dani Miller, who promptly placed the ball behind the left field fence for a grand slam.

Miller, who went from little playing time at the beginning of the season to a starting job, has been an offensive force for the Irish during their current homestand.

“She really deserves it,” Gumpf said. “There isn’t anyone who works harder than Dani. She fires me up, the way she approaches the game.”

The Broncos scored their only run of the game in the third inning on a walk and an error.

Sophomore pitcher Jody Valdivia (5-5) allowed just one hit and an unearned run in her seven innings of work. She struck out eight batters.

“It was one of [Valdivia’s] best outings,” Gumpf said. “She had good stuff and it was really moving. She kept the other team guessing.”

Gumpf said the early runs for the Irish were helpful for both pitchers.

“It takes all the pressure off,” she said. “I know Bargar and Jody really appreciate it.”

The Irish added an extra four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Jorgensborg began the inning with a single and advanced to third on a walk and a wild pitch. Fleury then batted her in with a single. The Irish added three more on two walks, a sacrifice fly and an error.

Notre Dame will have two days’ rest before traveling to Georgetown and South Florida this weekend to play in their first conference road games.