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ND Softball

Winter sets strikeout mark

| Friday, April 25, 2014

Senior pitcher Laura Winter earned her 20th victory on the season, sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi hit her team-leading 11th home run of the year, and the Notre Dame bats came alive to defeat in-state rival Valparaiso, 7-2, for a 32nd consecutive time dating back to 1990.

Irish sophomore pitcher Allie Rhodes delivers a pitch during an exhibition game against Illinois State on Sept. 15.Kevin Song | The Observer

Irish sophomore pitcher Allie Rhodes delivers a pitch during an exhibition game against Illinois State on Sept. 15.

The visiting Crusaders (19-26, 9-4 Horizon) tallied two first-inning runs on back-to-back solo home runs by senior second baseman Amanda Wisniewski and junior first baseman Tarah McShane. However, Winter (20-4) settled in nicely, allowing just singles from there on out as she struck out 13 batters while allowing just one walk.

But the Irish offense squandered chance after chance against Valparaiso sophomore starting pitcher Taylor Weissenhofer (12-8). In the first inning, two walks and a bunt single by junior centerfielder Emilee Koerner loaded the bases, but Notre Dame (31-10, 10-5 ACC) could not capitalize. In the second, the Irish stranded two after lining into a double play. Junior third baseman Katey Haus scored junior second baseman Jenna Simon on an RBI double off the wall in right-center in the third inning, but the Irish bats remained largely dormant until the fifth inning.

But then they roared to life. Haus scored freshman leftfielder Karley Wester on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and a throwing error on the play brought Simon around as well to give the Irish their first lead. The next batter was Arizmendi, who swatted a two-run home run to left field to give Notre Dame a cushion it would not need. Koerner also added two insurance runs in the sixth inning, as her 20th double of the season scored both Wester and Simon once again. It was her second consecutive season with 20 doubles, a feat that she is the first in program history to achieve.

It was another day of milestones in a season full of them for Laura Winter. Already the winningest pitcher in program history, she joined Heather Booth as just the second pitcher in school history to record four 20-win seasons. She also struck out the 1,000th batter of her prolific career in the top of the fourth inning.

And she was as dominant as ever in the circle, striking out the side in the seventh inning to slam the door shut.

Notre Dame is back in action this weekend as they host a three-game set with Maryland (8-32, 4-13 ACC). The two teams play a Saturday afternoon doubleheader starting at 1 p.m., then play the rubber match at 7 p.m. Sunday night to finish the series.

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