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ND Softball: Irish win three games in Fla.

Mike Monaco | Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Irish took three of four games for the second weekend in a row, as they participated in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Buena Vista, Fla.

Notre Dame (7-6), which has won seven of its last 10, opened the weekend with a 5-0 win against Long Island by outhitting their opponents, 9-3. Notre Dame got all five runs by the fourth inning thanks in part to sophomore infielder Chloe Saganowich’s three-run triple to right-center field.

Senior outfielder Alexa Maldonado then drove in Saganowich with a single to right field. Maldonado, who went 3-for-4 against Long Island (2-16), led the Irish offense throughout the weekend as she had three other hits and compiled a .462 batting average.

“We strung hits together when we needed them,” Maldonado said. “We had the big hit from [Saganowich], which scored three and then I scored her … We just have been stringing hits together in situations when we need to. We also haven’t been leaving that many runners on base. Our team has been scoring when we need to and that’s how we succeeded this weekend.”

Junior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell (4-2) tossed five shutout innings of two-hit ball before returning to the circle in the seventh inning to get out of a bases-loaded jam.

In Saturday’s second game, the Irish used another strong pitching performance to take down Ohio State 3-1 in eight innings.

Sophomore pitcher Laura Winter went the distance and shut out the Buckeyes (11-7) for the last seven innings after giving up the lone run in the opening frame.

“In our wins the pitching was good,” Maldonado said. “They didn’t put a lot of runners on base and they did not have a lot of walks. There weren’t many unnecessary base runners. The pitchers also made it so the ball was put in play which gave us a chance to play defense.”

The Irish tied the game in the third inning and it remained knotted at one run apiece until junior outfielder Kelsey Thornton ripped an infield single in the top half of the eighth inning to take the 2-1 lead. Junior catcher Amy Buntin’s sacrifice fly provided an insurance run, but Winter did not need it as she shut the door in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win.

O’Donnell was back in the circle for Sunday’s first game against Fordham. The junior threw four innings of no-hit ball, but the Rams (4-10) got a run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth senior infielder Dani Miller had an RBI double to tie the game before freshman infielder Katey Haus belted her first career home run to give Notre Dame a 3-1 lead.

“They pitched very well and they weren’t hit very hard until [the Virginia Tech game],” Maldonado said. “Their pitch placement was great and so was their demeanor. We really fed off their enthusiasm.”

The Irish, however, couldn’t pull off the sweep in the final game of the weekend, as they were held scoreless in a 3-0 loss to Virginia Tech.

Notre Dame looks to continue the hot streak when it heads to Lakewood, Calif., on Saturday for the Long Beach State Invite.


Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu