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ND Softball: Pitchers combine for no-hitter

Jack Yusko | Monday, May 2, 2011

Superb performances from seniors at Melissa Cook Stadium, including the second no-hitter this week, made Notre Dame’s three-game sweep of Big East opponent St. John’s on senior weekend all the more sweet, winning 10-3, 11-1 and 14-0.

“Senior day was sort of surreal,” Irish senior pitcher Jody Valdivia said. “We have watched three other classes through it thinking our time would never come and once it did it was filled with such excitement.”

No. 22 Notre Dame (38-8, 14-1 Big East) improved upon its stellar conference record due in large part to the performances from the eight seniors. Irish coach Deanna Gumpf started each of the seniors on the squad in the final game of the weekend.

In the doubleheader Saturday, senior outfielder Brianna Jorgensborg went 4-of-4 at the plate, recording three home runs and seven RBIs. Senior captain Heather Johnson had five hits and three RBIs, while seniors Sadie Pitzenberger and Lex Clay each had triples in the crucial second inning of the second game. The Irish did not strike out a single time during the first game, and the second ended with a walk-off home run from Jorgensborg.

The third game of the series saw senior pitchers Jody Valdivia and Shannon Kelly combine to throw a no-hitter, a special feat made all the more impressive by the fact that Sunday was the official senior day.

“Everyone played very well,” Valdivia said. “Starting the eight seniors in the lineup was a special moment and everyone performed all around, offense and defense.”

The no-hitter was the second recorded by the Irish this week, as freshman pitcher Laura Winter etched her place in the record books in a 1-0 victory over South Florida Wednesday.

Valdivia also drove home a run in her first ever at bat, capping off a productive day on both sides of the ball. Jorgensborg scored three runs and senior utility player Erin Marrone led the team with four RBIs.

When the games were over, the seniors were able to reflect on a solid four-year run and think about some of the memories that made their time at Notre Dame special.

“When I think about my career here, my best experiences have been with my teammates,” Valdivia said. “On or off the field they have always been the greatest to be around. Playing with them for four years has been such a privilege.”

As the season wraps up and the playoffs draw near, the Irish are dedicated to remaining focused. After playing at such a high level, the players have decided not to lose sight of what is immediately ahead because of big events in the future.

“We are excited to get to our postseason games but we are ready to finish our conference and head to the Big East tournament,” Valdivia said. “We take it one game at a time.”

Notre Dame will host Valparaiso Tuesday at 5 p.m.