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ND Softball: Irish stretch winning streak to nine games

Kelsey Manning | Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seven players recorded three hits on the day for the Irish and six hits went for home runs as Notre Dame’s balanced and persistent offensive attack brought down Syracuse in back-to-back games Sunday in New York.

Though travel complications for Notre Dame (24-10, 5-0) did not allow the scheduled Friday game to be played, the pair of victories brought the Irish winning streak to nine games, matching their longest of the season. In addition, the Irish squad remains undefeated in Big East play.

Despite an early homer for the Orange (24-10, 3-5), Notre Dame was able to quickly even up the count as senior infielder Katie Fleury smashed a home run of her own in the top of the second. The big hits continued as sophomore catcher Amy Buntin crushed a two-out two-run homer, which sailed over the fence and gave the Irish a comfortable lead. Senior infielder Heather Johnson and junior infielder Dani Miller followed up with back-to-back home runs — the second time the pair has done so this season.

“I think everyone stayed really composed and just jumped all over those pitchers,” Miller said. “It wasn’t just the home runs; everyone was contributing. It’s really exciting to see back-to-back line drive doubles to score or just textbook softball.”

Offensive support came from senior catcher Alexia Clay, who led the Irish with three runs scored and helped the squad best the Orange 9-2 in the home opener.

In the second contest Syracuse pitchers were faced with equally formidable batting as Miller smashed her second home run of the day to kick off the first inning, and Fleury was quickly brought home by solid hits from Buntin and senior outfielder Brianna Jorgensborg.

Though Syracuse evened up the score, Johnson brought her hitting streak to a whopping 16 games with a third-inning homer that put the Irish back on top. Clutch hitting by Notre Dame left very few players on base, resulting in a 7-4 win.

“We did a lot of little things right,” Miller said. “The pitchers kept us in the games, and the hitters produced runs. We didn’t leave a lot of runners on base, which is a great indicator of how well we are working together right now.”

In the opener freshman pitcher Laura Winter struck out nine in a complete game for her sixth-straight victory, while the tandem of Winter and senior pitcher Jody Valdivia was able to close out the second game.

The Irish will return home for the remainder of the week, starting with a Tuesday doubleheader with Bowling Green and closing out with more Big East play next weekend against Louisville. According to Miller, the squad is feeling confident about maintaining its undefeated conference record as it marches closer to the Big East tournament.

“We are definitely feeling good,” Miller said. “These were good wins, and I know that we are already looking forward to carry this momentum to next weekend against Louisville.”