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ND Softball: Bargar leads team to victory

Michael Bryan | Friday, March 23, 2007

Notre Dame snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday with a 6-1 win over IUPUI in its home opener.

Right-hander Brittney Bargar pitched a complete game for the Irish, picking up the win to improve to 7-7 on the year.

“Right now, we’re going to take the wins as they come,” Bargar said. “We always shoot for a shutout, but we’ll take the win.”

Bargar allowed only four hits while striking out three in her league-leading 11th complete game of the season.

The offense got started early for the Irish (10-12), putting up two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Third baseman Heather Johnson doubled home senior Stephanie Brown with two outs to drive in the first run of the game and shortstop Katie Laing followed with a double of her own to give the Irish the 2-0 lead. Johnson picked up three hits and two RBI in the first home game of her career.

Notre Dame picked up another two-out run in the third after second baseman Linda Kohan walked. Junior Sarah Smith pinch-ran for Kohan, and scored all the way from first on another double by Johnson.

With the Jaguars (5-13) still scoreless in the sixth, the Irish put the game out of reach with three more runs. Center fielder Stephanie Brown earned an RBI, beating out an infield single with two outs that scored a run, followed by left fielder Beth Northway scoring on an error. Notre Dame senior Gessica Hufnagle singled home Brown for the sixth and final run for the Irish.

Brown also picked up two hits and scored two runs, increasing her team-leading batting average to .444.

IUPUI finally got on the board in the seventh inning when pinch hitter Susan Jones hit into a fielder’s choice, driving home center fielder Sarah Needy for the Jaguars’ only run of the day.

Irish Coach Deanna Gumpf said the team’s tough losses in the Judi Garman Classic over spring break may have helped the team.

“In California, we saw some girls who were really throwing hard and with a lot of movement,” Gumpf said. “Now we can come back and see some girls who are good, but they don’t look so tough anymore.”

Sophomore Breanna Howell gave up four earned runs over 5 2/3 innings to take the loss for IUPUI.

While the Irish have had their early season struggles, Gumpf believes the most important part of the season begins in conference play.

“Right now, our record doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “The only thing that matters is how well we prepared ourselves to play in the Big East.”

Notre Dame will begin its conference schedule this weekend with doubleheaders at home against St. John’s Saturday and Seton Hall Sunday.