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ND Softball: Irish split doubleheaders

Laura Coletti | Monday, February 11, 2013

The Irish began their season by going 2-2 at UNC Charlotte’s Fast Pitch Classic over the weekend. Notre Dame split the games on both days of the tournament, losing twice to Wisconsin and defeating UNC Charlotte and Presbyterian. 

The Irish (2-2) opened the weekend against the Badgers (4-1), who took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a homerun. Although Notre Dame got runners on base throughout the remainder of the game, the Irish were held scoreless.

“Wisconsin had timely hitting with runners on base,” Notre Dame senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said. “We had a lot of opportunities to score, and we hit the ball hard, but we hit it right at people.”

O’Donnell tossed a gem during Notre Dame’s second game on Saturday, pitching six innings of one-run ball while giving up only five hits and one walk. The Irish did their scoring during the fourth inning, as they loaded the bases with nobody out. After senior catcher and captain Amy Buntin and senior outfielder Kelsey Thornton reached the bases, sophomore catcher Cassidy Whidden broke the game open with a three-run homerun to right center field. The Irish went on to win 5-1.

“All the hard work during practice we put in as a team contributed toward the outcomes of our victories,” O’Donnell said. “Defensively, we were very solid. As a pitcher, it’s a great feeling knowing you have that type of defense behind you that will make the plays.”

Sunday brought another Irish defeat at the hands of Wisconsin and a high-scoring win over Presbyterian (1-4). Junior pitcher Laura Winter took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when Wisconsin sophomore outfielder Marissa Mersch recorded a single. The teams played into extra innings, and the Irish gained a 2-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning when Thornton scored off a wild pitch. The Badgers answered, though, and continued to do so until the 11th inning, when they hit a walk-off homerun to earn the 6-5 victory.

In the second game of the day, O’Donnell and freshman reliever Allison Rhodes combined to pitch the Irish to an 8-5 victory. 

Buntin said, in spite of the losses, she was pleased with her team’s performance this weekend.

“Going into this weekend we were expecting to dominate in pitching, defense and offense,” she said. “Although we struggled with the offensive part of our game early in the weekend, we definitely found our rhythm towards the end after seeing more pitches. It was only the first weekend, and we still have a long season ahead, so I am confident our bats will find the ball more consistently.”

The Irish will head to San Diego next weekend for the Campbell/Cartier Classic.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu