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ND Softball: Irish have multi-hit effort

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, March 19, 2010

The Irish hit their way to an easy 13-4 win over Western Michigan Thursday as sophomore Kristina Wright led with four of the team’s 17 hits, including a home run.
Five Notre Dame players recorded multi-hit efforts for the day, including senior infielder Christine Lux’s grand slam. Lux also had a game-high five RBIs for the day while Wright added two runs and three RBIs.
“She had the bases loaded and hit a grand slam for our first four runs of the game,” Irish assistant coach Kris Ganeff said. “From there, we thought we had the game under control.”
And they did. Notre Dame (17-5) dominated from both the plate and the mound. Besides Wright and Lux’s performances, junior Sadie Pitzenberger, senior Heather Johnson and sophomore Alexa Maldonado each had at least two hits against the Broncos. Junior Katie Fleury had two RBIs and was one of four Irish players to score twice.
“Each of the hitters did what we needed them to do,” Ganeff said. “Kristina Wright was on fire tonight.”
Seven of Notre Dame’s runs came in the fourth inning of the six-inning contest. The Broncos (8-5) trailed the Irish 11-0 going into the bottom of the fourth but got one run in that inning, adding three more in the fifth. Western Michigan’s Gracie Barstad and Kayla Houston each had two RBI.
Junior Jody Valdivia (13-2) kept the strikeouts coming from the mound with 11 and giving up only one earned run on three hits in 5.2 innings. She had a much better day than the three Western Michigan pitchers, none of whom gave up fewer than two earned runs. The Broncos Meredith Whitney (2-4) gave up seven earned runs and seven hits in three innings.
Ganeff felt that the Irish went into the contest with a positive mindset that definitely helped in gaining their fourth straight win.
“I think we came out there with a great mentality,” Ganeff said. “On defensive we played solidly. Jody did a great job with 10 strikeouts. Our hitters did a good job against all three pitchers.”
Notre Dame saw this game as giving it a strong leap into the second half of their season as they draw closer and closer to the Big East tournament.
“This game started the second phase of the season,” Ganeff said. “It set the tone for what we expect to happen in the rest of the season up through the Big East Tournament.”
The Irish will open their home season Tuesday against Eastern Michigan with a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.