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ND Softball: Irish break losing streak with three quick wins

Molly Sammon | Monday, February 22, 2010

Though the bad weather forced a cancellation of its last game, it didn’t hinder Notre Dame’s ability to win games this weekend and end the team’s four-game losing streak at the Mizuno Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss.

“We played really well together as a team, offensively and defensively, and it was nice to see the potential that we do have,” Irish assistant coach Kris Ganeff said. “We weren’t perfect but we played well enough to get the wins, and ultimately, that’s what’s most important.”

The Irish began the weekend Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Louisiana Tech.

The one Notre Dame run of the game came in the third inning when junior infielder Katie Fleury’s hard shot brought junior Sadie Pitzenberger around from second base. Starting pitcher junior Jody Valdivia shut out Tech while striking out 13.

“The pitching really stepped up this weekend,” Ganeff said “Valdivia set the tone for us.”
Saturday night, the Irish handed Southern Mississippi (6-1) its first loss of the season on its home field in the form of a 7-6 defeat.

“We came out ready to go which was nice to see because Southern Mississippi had been playing well and beating good teams,” Ganeff said. “Our girls came out with a bang and started putting the runs up early and put the other girls on their toes.”

The Irish started off strong in the first three innings, going up 7-0, but gave up six runs in the fourth inning. Luckily, the Irish were able to hold off the Golden Eagles.

“The difference between this weekend and last weekend was we weren’t in a must score position,” Ganeff said. “We were able to put runs up before they were able to. We really focused this weekend, looking forward, not backwards.”

Sunday, the Irish beat Stephen F. Austin State 3-0 for the team’s and Valdivia’s third win of the three total games Notre Dame played this weekend.

Senior infielder Christine Lux had a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning. The Irish scored again soon when senior catcher Alexia Clay hit a triple, then went home on a wild throw from Stephen F. Austin State’s pitcher.

“Offensively, we were struggling against the left-handed pitcher that kept mixing up her pitches,” Ganeff said. “But right before the sixth inning, we figured out a plan and we told the team what we expected in order to make an adjustment which they made, and we could score runs right away.”

The Irish got into a tight spot at the end of the seventh inning with the bases loaded, no outs, and the winning run at the plate. After one Ladyjack foul out, and Valdivia’s final two strikeouts of the game, the Irish were able to win for the third and final time at the Mizuno Classic.