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ND Softball: Three home runs lead Irish

Molly Sammon | Friday, April 16, 2010

The Irish defended their position at the top of the NCAA in batting average as three home runs, including a sixth-inning home run from junior Brianna Jorgensborg, led the Irish to a shutout of Cleveland State 8-0 at Melissa Cook Stadium Thursday.

“The game was a little slow at first,” Irish assistant coach Kris Ganeff said. “But Dani Miller came out there and hit a home run that flew out past center field, and then we started stringing hits together.”

The No. 24 Irish improved their win streak to eight games by defeating a Vikings team that has won 19 of their last 21 games.

“If you look at [the Vikings’] statistics or their record, you would have thought that the score would have been a lot closer than it ended up being,” Ganeff said.

Aside from having a good season, the Vikings also sported Amanda Macenko, one of the best pitchers they have had in program history on the mound Thursday.

“[Macenko] had better movement than a lot of the pitching we’ve seen in the last few weeks,” Ganeff said. “She has the most strikeouts in the history of their program.”

Along with their success on offense, the Irish excelled on defense against the Vikings as senior pitcher Jody Valdivia and freshman pitcher Brittany O’Donnell teamed-up to throw a one-hitter.

The coaches arranged for O’Donnell to start against the Vikings to give Valdivia a rest before the upcoming in-conference games against Louisville on Saturday and Sunday.

“We tried to give [Valdivia] a game where she didn’t have to throw seven innings,” Ganeff said. “So O’Donnell got in there and did her job.”

The Vikings are a similar team to the Irish, boasting some of the strengths on the field that the Irish demonstrate.

“They are typically a home run hitting team and steal a lot of bases like us, so for our defense to hold them to just a few hits, that was really good,” Ganeff said. “We were able to put our game together and dominate, which has been our goal the whole year.”

After feeling like they undermined their ability on the field in their two wins against Georgetown Wednesday, the Irish turn to this victory as a good confidence boost before their next conference game against Louisville.

“We walked away feeling unsettled because we didn’t show Georgetown what we had,” Ganeff said. “Today, coming out and winning against a less competitive opponent restores the confidence and showed us how good we really can be.”

Next, the Irish will travel to Louisville to take on the Cardinals for three crucial in-conference games Saturday and Sunday.