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ND Softball: ND falls to top-ranked Oklahoma in extras

Katie Heit | Monday, February 18, 2013

Though they left the Campbell/Cartier Classic with a record of 2-3, the Irish nearly knocked No. 1 Oklahoma from their pedestal in a 7-5 loss that went to extra innings. Prior to their match against the Irish, the Sooners (10-0) had not given up a run in four games at the Classic.

The Sooners led the Irish 2-0 at the end of the fifth inning, but the Irish (4-5) were right back in it in the bottom of the sixth, finishing the inning up 3-2. 

In the top of the seventh, the Sooners tied things up when Oklahoma sophomore Laura Chamberlain beat the throw to home plate from Irish sophomore outfielder Emilee Koerner

The game went to extra innings from there. Oklahoma scored four in the top of the ninth, bringing the score to 7-3. In their last chance to gain the advantage, Notre Dame senior catcher Amy Buntin belted a two-run home run to right-center field to cut the Sooner lead in half. Oklahoma got out of that jam though and retired the next three batters to seal the victory. 

Buntin said the matchup against Oklahoma was good proof of how talented the Irish can be.

“[The game against] Oklahoma was a great showing of our fight,” Buntin said. “Even though the scoreboard didn’t show it, we had a great game.”

Despite the tough game, senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said the team’s biggest challenge was playing up to their potential. 

“The biggest competition this week was against ourselves,” O’Donnell said. “We are able to beat any team on a given day when we play to our fullest potential.” 

The other games in the Campbell/Cartier Classic weren’t quite as close for the Irish. In their first game, the Irish lost 5-1 to No. 16 Washington. The Irish fell behind early when Washington took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Notre Dame responded when freshman infielder Carly Piccinich scored off of a wide throw by the Huskies catcher, but were unable to generate any offense after that. 

From there, the Irish were able to change their momentum around in a doubleheader against Cal Poly (1-8), finishing ahead in both games with top performances by O’Donnell and Koerner

In the second game against Cal Poly, the Irish were down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Junior outfielder Lauren Stuhr hit her first home run of the year to bring the game to 2-2 and the Irish finished the inning with two more runs. The Mustangs (1-8) attempted to come back in the seventh inning, but the Irish defense clenched the 4-3 victory. 

Rounding out the weekend was a 4-0 loss to San Diego State. 

O’Donnell said the Irish will need to take the small victories to heart to keep up their confidence going into the bulk of the season.

“After this weekend we figured out what we need to do to get our energy going game by game,” O’Donnell said. “In a game like softball you need to celebrate the small victories within the game in order to win the big picture.” 

The Irish will be back in action Saturday in the Pirate Invitational in Greenville, N.C.  

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu