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Softball: Irish blank Toledo, 5-0

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, April 20, 2006

Despite being shut out on only one hit in the first three innings, Notre Dame’s bats woke up in the second half of Wednesday’s game for a 5-0 win over Toledo at Ivy Field.

The win showed the ability of Notre Dame (27-13, 9-1 Big East) to bounce back from tough defeats – like the 3-2 loss to No. 17 Northwestern Tuesday – while maintaining its dominance over Toledo (12-29, 3-8 MAC). The Irish have won all eight meetings with the Rockets.

Coming off the Northwestern loss focused and ready to play, the Irish knew a quick rebound was necessary.

“We just came out ready to win,” freshman left fielder Gessica Hufnagle said. “We had to watch the ball all the way in and just drive it.”

Freshman right-hander Brittney Bargar got the win for the Irish in Wednesday’s game, pitching six strong innings and allowing no runs on four hits while striking out seven batters. Ahead of the hitters all game, Bargar finished most of the lead-off batters.

Bargar’s performance was especially needed during the first half of the game, when Notre Dame had trouble hitting Rockets’ pitcher Denise Van Vossen’s tough offspeed pitching.

“In the second half of the game, we finally made the necessary adjustments for the pitching,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “She threw a lot of funky, offspeed stuff, which was a huge difference from the 68 mph fastballs we were seeing yesterday.”

Silent in the first three innings, the Irish bats were dominant in the last three. Senior shortstop Sara Schoonaert and senior third baseman Meagan Ruthrauff each reached base in the fourth with a single and a double, respectively, to start the Irish rally.

A Katie Laing ground ball to second knocked in Schoonaert to give the Irish the first run of the day, while a Linda Kohan single added some insurance.

Another quick inning by Bargar brought the Irish to bat, and another run – this time off a Schoonaert single – scored junior right fielder Carissa Jaquish from third.

Hufnagle added two extra runs in the sixth inning with a hard-hit single to center to cap off the Irish score.

“Gessica finally started using good mechanics and was able to have two really good at bats today,” Gumpf said.

After Wednesday’s win, the Irish return to Big East play, something Gumpf has been preparing for all season.

“We have to be prepared for the Big East, especially because we know how important these games are,” Gumpf said. “We have to bring our best game every time, and they know that too.”