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ND Softball: ‘Peaking’ Irish win another league series

Katie Heit | Monday, April 29, 2013

Despite a 5-2 loss Sunday, the Irish claimed their seventh Big East series win of the season with two wins Saturday against DePaul and remained in a tie for first place in the conference. 

Senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said despite the final loss, the caliber of play over the weekend proved how good of a team the Irish (37-11, 17-2 Big East) have this year. 

“We all had our moments of brilliance,” O’Donnell said. “That’s the sign of a really good team. I feel confident we are peaking at the right time.” 

In game one, after falling behind 1-0, a solo home run by Irish junior pitcher Laura Winter tied the score in the top of the second. Sophomore outfielder Emilee Koerner then blasted a two-run shot in the third inning to give the Irish a 3-1 lead. 

The Blue Demons (28-18, 14-5) scored once more in the bottom of the third, but with the score at 3-2, Irish senior catcher Amy Buntin hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh to score senior outfielder Kelsey Thornton and Winter hit a two-run single to give the Irish a 6-2 advantage en route to the series-opening victory.

In game two, O’Donnell managed to keep the Blue Demon at bay, as the senior spun seven innings of two-run ball. Winter hit a home run in the top of the first, scoring Buntin and giving the Irish an immediate 2-0 lead. 

Sophomore third baseman Katey Haus roped a two-run triple in the fifth inning to give the Irish a 4-1 advantage. Sophomore catcher Cassidy Whidden followed immediately with another RBI triple and the Irish finished the inning leading 5-1. DePaul managed a run in the bottom of the fifth off O’Donnell, but the Irish held on to secure the 5-2 victory. 

In their final game of the series, O’Donnell acknowledged the Irish were unable to get their offense moving. 

“The last game was most difficult this weekend,” O’Donnell said. “We had the lead and didn’t get it done. We were not successful in executing when we had runners in scoring position.” 

Notre Dame pulled ahead 2-0 through the first four innings, but five runs by DePaul in the fifth and sixth innings proved to be too much. DePaul junior pitcher Hannah Penna blasted a three-run home run over the left-field fence to put the Blue Demons in control in the bottom of the sixth.

The Irish are back in action Tuesday with a 5 p.m. matchup against Eastern Michigan at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu