ND Softball: Squad falls against top teams in opening play
Molly Sammon | Monday, February 15, 2010
The Irish saw some of the nation’s toughest competition at their first tournament of the season, the Kajikawa Classic at Arizona State. The Irish finished the weekend at 1-4.
“It was our first weekend out, and we looked like it was our first time on dirt compared to the teams who had been playing already,” Irish assistant coach Kris Ganeff said. ” If we make some adjustments we’ll be on the right track for this coming weekend.”
The Irish started off their season by slaughtering Creighton University 11-3 in six innings. Following that victory, the Irish were unable to pull out another win as they fell to Oregon, Auburn, Oregon State and No. 1 Washington.
Against Creighton, junior pitcher Jody Valdivia led the Irish defensively with 10 strikeouts and held the Blue Jays to only three runs. Back-to-back home runs from senior Christine Lux and sophomore Dani Miller put the Irish in the lead, which they held for the rest of the game.
Unfortunately Miller was injured during the game and was unable to play for the remainder of the tournament.
Later on, the Irish geared up again to take on the Oregon Ducks, but fell 4-1 for their first loss of the season.
Freshman pitchers Jackie Bowe and Brittany O’Donnell made their first collegiate appearances at the mound. Bowe started, giving up the four total runs, and Bowe took over to finish out the game.
“It’s hard for freshmen to go against these Division I hitters,” Ganeff said. “But they both got in there, got their feet wet and did a really great job.”
The Ducks were unable to shut the Irish out as junior Erin Marrone singled and made her way around the bases for the only Irish run of the game.
“[Oregon] had a brand new coaching staff and looked like a completely different team than they have in the past few years,” Ganeff said. “With the new coaching staff, the team dynamic was a lot different than what we’ve seen in the past.”
Saturday, the Irish fell 5-2 against Auburn and 7-3 against Oregon State.
It took the Irish a few innings to get going offensively against the Tigers, but hits from four Irish players, including a home run from senior Heather Johnson and an RBI from freshman Amy Buntin. Valdivia started the game and earned her first loss in 18 games dating back to 2009.
The Irish suffered their third loss of the season against the Beavers, falling 7-3. Oregon State took an early 4-0 lead that the Irish could not recover from.
Things began to look up for the Irish offensively as Lux’s two RBIs in the sixth inning with a ground-rule double. Sophomore Alexa Maldonado batted in one runner in the seventh, but the Irish were unable to keep the rally going long enough to defeat the Beavers.
“[Oregon State] definitely played their best game against us the whole weekend,” Ganeff said. “They came out with a gotta-win-this-game mentality and had their best game offensively and defensively.”
In their last game of the opening tournament, the Irish were tied 0-0 with the defending national champion and current No. 1 Washington Huskies in search of an upset that could turn the team’s spirits drastically.
“Like all our games this weekend, we just had one bad inning,” Ganeff said.
In the fifth inning, Valdivia gave up a grand slam, giving the Huskies the momentum necessary to carry out a win.
“We were playing just as competitively and [Valdivia] was pitching just as well,” Ganeff said. “We threw one pitch that was not where it was supposed to be and one pitch that changed the whole game.”
Junior Katie Fleury got the only Irish hit against the Huskies. Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie, who threw the Huskies’ national championship win last season, put up a tough fight defensively.
“If you go down three or four runs against this girl, it’s really hard to come back,” Ganeff said.
The Irish will next travel to Southern Mississippi University for the Southern Miss Mizuno Classic on Feb. 20.