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Softball: Irish strike out 13 times, manage one hit in shutout loss

Sam Werner | Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Notre Dame’s offense got off to a good enough start at No. 13 Northwestern Tuesday night, when junior third baseman Linda Kohan ripped a two-out single in the first inning. Unfortunately for the Irish, they didn’t get much else after that.

Wildcat pitcher Lauren Delaney didn’t allow a hit after the first inning, and struck out 13 in a 5-0 Northwestern victory. The Wildcats improved to 24-10 on the season, while Notre Dame fell to 26-13 (7-3 Big East).

Even though the Irish came into the game unranked, and Northwestern was ranked in the top 15 nationally, Notre Dame coach Deanna Gumpf said her team expected to win.

“[The ranking] doesn’t matter,” Gumpf said. “We came to play.”

Delaney and Irish pitcher Brittney Bargar were locked in a 0-0 duel until Northwestern came to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior shortstop Tammy Williams started the inning off with a single. She stole second on the following play, and the Wildcat rally was on. Two walks, a single and a double later, Northwestern had a five-run lead – more than enough for Delaney.

The Wildcats batted around in that inning, with sophomore outfield Kelly Dyer and sophomore designated hitter Emily Haug each having two-RBI knocks.

The Irish went down in order in the remaining innings, unable to muster any sort of comeback.

“This whole game came down to one inning,” Gumpf said. “We didn’t respond well at all.”

Bargar fell to 20-8 with the loss. The Corona, Calif., native gave up five earned runs and struck out five in four innings of work. Freshman Jody Valdivia relieved Bargar after the fourth, and pitched two innings, giving up two hits, and striking out two.

“Other than that inning I think they both pitched really well,” Gumpf said.

Gumpf said that Notre Dame’s problems on offense all had to do with controlling the flow of the game.

“We were swinging at bad pitches,” Gumpf said. “We were letting the pitcher control the game instead of us swinging at the right pitches and having the hitters control the game.”

For now, Gumpf and her team are putting their loss behind them and just concentrating on their next game – a 4 p.m. matchup today against Wisconsin at Melissa Cook Stadium.

“There’s a lot of things we’re going to be working on [in practice],” Gumpf said. “But we have to focus right now on what we’re going to do to beat Wisconsin.”