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ND Softball: Mercy rule seals victory

Jack Yusko | Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Irish meant it when they said that they weren’t satisfied with their play Tuesday night, even though they finished their game against Loyola-Chicago 8-0. Stopped by mercy rule in six innings, the No. 24 Irish (29-7) extended their winning streak to 12 games.

The team dominated all areas of play, scoring prolifically and shutting out the Ramblers (15-16). The Irish jumped out to an early lead in the first inning with three quick runs.

“We had great hitting, defense and pitching,” Irish senior infielder Katie Fleury said. “It’s hard for teams to come back when they are put in a hole, and each inning we kept applying pressure and adding runs.”

Fleury had three RBIs on the game for the second time this season. Senior captain Heather Johnson extended her hitting streak to 18 games with an RBI in the first inning.

Freshman pitcher Laura Winter struck out nine batters yet still cited the offense as the strongest aspect of the team’s play.

“We really came out strong offensively and crushed any hope they had of beating us,” freshman pitcher Laura Winter said.

Pinch-hitting specifically was mentioned as the biggest factor in the game by both Winters and Maldonado.

“The big plays came from our pinch hitters this game,” Winters said. “Everyone who got the chance made the most of it and put some hard grounders and line drives in play.”

“We had an inning full of pinch hitters who found a way to produce a run,” Maldonado said. “It is always awesome to see players come off the bench and pull through for the team.”

This decisive victory was especially important to the Irish as they had lost in years past against Loyola and were playing with a chip on their shoulder. In 2010 the Ramblers defeated the Irish in five innings with the same mercy rule score, 8-0.

“After losing to them twice in the past year, it was about time we showed them how great of a team we really are,” junior outfielder Alexa Maldonado said.

The Ramblers had more errors than hits in the game, with four and three respectively.

The Irish look to continue this winning streak and channel their positive energy in their next games and the rest of the season as a whole.

“We have had our ups and downs but right now when we really need it we are beginning to hit our stride,” said Winters. “The rest of the season will be very exciting.”

The Irish will host a Big East conference three game series this weekend against Louisville, with games played Saturday at 12 and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m.