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ND Softball: Tean earns victory with walk-off

Meaghan Veselik | Thursday, April 22, 2010

The No. 23 Irish had to fight to keep their successful home season going Wednesday, but they did it with a 7-6 win over Valparaiso with the help from a home run and four RBIs from Dani Miller.

Miller hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to score junior Katie Fleury and secure the victory for Notre Dame.

“Our fight is what really helped the win today,” junior pitcher Jody Valdivia said. “We kept competing and didn’t check out even when we got behind. Picking up the win was the most important thing we were looking to accomplish for today.”

The game ended after two ties and five lead changes between the Irish (35-7, 12-1 Big East) and the Crusaders (7-2 Horizon League). Valparaiso stranded 11 runners on base, but saw multiple hits from Sara Strickland, Kelsey Phalen, Lisa DeBruzzi and Jessie Marinec.

“Valpo came out swinging, that’s for sure,” Valdivia said. “We were not looking to take them for granted because they have put up some good numbers this season, and they backed it up. We did a good job at focusing on the task at hand and making sure to take care of the win.”

Notre Dame was leading 6-5 heading into the seventh inning, but Strickland notched an RBI with the bases loaded to tie the game. But freshman Jackie Bowe stopped any thought of a Crusader comeback by closing the inning to earn her first career win.

Valdivia began the game from the mound for the Irish, giving up a leadoff single in the first to Strickland, the sixth leadoff hit allowed by Valdivia in 30 starts. Phalen hit a two-run home run to snap Valdivia’s 36-inning scoreless streak in the circle.

Irish coach Deanna Gumpf utilized her bullpen in the win, relieving Valdivia after she gave up five hits and four earned runs in two innings. Freshman Brittany O’Donnell came in for four and one-third innings of relief, allowing six hits and two earned runs.

The key for the Irish once again was their hitting, a skill they have only improved on throughout the season.

“Even when they switched their pitchers, we were still able to produce runs,” Valdivia said.
Crusader’s Sam McGee gave up four earned runs on four hits as the Valparaiso starter. Alex Lagesse took the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits in four and two-thirds innings.

Notre Dame is back on the road today, traveling to face DePaul in a Big East match up in Chicago, where it will look to maintain its conference success. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m.

“We are taking the confidence of this win to tomorrow versus DePaul,” Valdivia said. “We are seeing where we fell short in some areas and looking to turn that around.”