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ND Softball: Notre Dame beats Eastern Michigan

Laura Coletti | Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Irish handled Eastern Michigan on Tuesday 5-3 and now look toward a road tilt against Western Michigan this afternoon.

Notre Dame (38-11, 17-2 Big East) jumped out to an early lead in the first inning and forced the Eagles (15-30-1, 5-12 MAC) into a 2-0 hole in the third. The Eagles responded in the top of the fourth inning, when junior pitcher Laura Winter gave up a solo home run to Western Michigan second baseman Amanda Stanton.

Some small-ball and a single from Irish sophomore designated player Cassidy Whidden scored freshman pinch runner Carly Piccinich from third base to extend the Irish lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Notre Dame helped its cause with a solo home run by junior shortstop Chloe Saganowich that made it 4-1. Later that inning, senior first baseman Jackie Bowe laced a double to right center field with two outs and moved to third on a wild pitch. Senior right fielder Kelsey Thornton hit an infield single to score Bowe before the inning ended at 5-1.

Although the Eagles were able to tack on two more runs, the Irish pulled out the win. Senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said there was a lot the team was able to take away from this game to prepare for Western Michigan (14-30, 5-11 MAC).

“We need to continue to work,” she said. “We can’t let our guard down because in the end, defense wins championships.”

It will be hard for the Irish not to look past the Broncos to Big East rival Louisville this weekend, she said.

“[Louisville] is the climax of the regular season,” O’Donnell said. “The winner of this series clinches the conference title.”

This weekend will also celebrate the senior class, as Sunday’s game will be accompanied by festivities to honor the class of 2013.

“As a class we want to leave a legacy as a group who day-in and day-out represented Notre Dame softball in its entirety,” O’Donnell said.

The Irish will be able to stay focused before this weekend, though, because their game today against the Broncos is crucial to helping their stock in order to qualify for the NCAA tournament, O’Donnell said.

“We haven’t even addressed Louisville yet because we are going day by day and are focused on Western Michigan,” she said.

Game time in Kalamazoo this afternoon is 4:00 p.m.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu