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ND Softball: Team splits doubleheader

Laura Myers | Monday, March 23, 2009

The Irish ended a win streak Sunday, but it took only two pitches for the team to start a new one.

Notre Dame (11-11, 1-1) had won 26 straight over St. John’s (9-12, 2-2), but lost the first game of a doubleheader 4-3 against the Red Storm. They won the second game 5-4 due to late inning heroics by sophomores Katie Fleury and Brianna Jorgensborg.

It looked like the second game would go the same way as the first. St. John’s held a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh and pitcher Kat Lawrence quickly dispatched the first two Irish batters.

Sophomore second basemen Katie Fleury then stepped to the plate. She fouled off her first two pitches before taking a ball. Down to her last strike, Fleury launched the next pitch over the left field wall to tie the game.

“Pressure situations like that are easier, they’re more fun,” Fleury said. “I was just trying to hit it up the middle to get on base.”

After Fleury had circled the bases, sophomore Brianna Jorgensborg stepped up and sent the first pitch she saw to dead center, where it bounced off of the scoreboard for the game-winning home run.

“I couldn’t stop smiling as I was running the bases,” Jorgensborg said of her first walk-off homer. “You try to act like you’ve been there before, like it’s your job. But in such a big moment you just can’t help it. You feel giddy.”

The games marked Notre Dame’s first in Big East play.

“I don’t believe we started the Big East season well,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “I don’t feel we ever got into our groove. We’re lucky we have good hitters who can go out there and make adjustments at the end of the game.”

The first game began as a pitchers’ duel, as senior pitcher Brittany Bargar (7-6) retired the first six batters she faced and Red Storm pitcher Linzee Sumrall retired her first five.

The game remained tied at zero until the bottom of the fourth, which Johnson started with a single to center. Senior Christine Farrell came into the game as a pinch runner and advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a passed ball. Two outs later, Miller hit a single over the head of the second baseman to score Farrell, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead.

The Red Storm looked like they would not put up much of a fight against Bargar. Through five innings, only two batters reached second and the squad had gone down in order three times.

In the sixth, however, St. John’s came out swinging. Two singles and three doubles gave the Red Storm all four of its runs. With two on and one out, Bargar was able to induce the last two outs, but not before the damage was done. St. John’s led, 4-1.

“Bargar had six great innings and one bad one,” Gumpf said.

The Irish did not go quietly, though. In the bottom of the seventh, freshman center fielder Alexa Maldonado hit a single and Kohan followed with a two-run homer. However, Sumrall got Johnson to fly out to end the game.

The second game went much like the first. Both teams were stifled until the fourth, when the Irish scored two runs on a home run by junior first basemen Christine Lux.

St. John’s responded in the top of the fifth with a four-run inning capped by a three-run home run by Red Storm third baseman Roxy Struble.

Sophomore Jody Valdivia (4-5) recorded the win for the Irish, giving up only six hits in the complete game.

“[Valdivia] did really well,” Fleury said. “It makes it a lot easier for the defense when the pitcher is keeping runners off the bases.”

The Irish will be in action again in a non-conference contest against Ball State Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.

Note:

uThe victory in the second game marked the 300th win of Irish coach Deanna Gumpf’s career. All 300 victories have been with the Irish. Gumpf, though, said the milestone does not mean very much.

“Honestly, I had no idea,” she said. “I’m focused on the team.”