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ND Softball: Team rebounds for home doubleheader split

Molly Sammon | Thursday, April 23, 2009

Notre Dame saw a pair of impressive streaks fall by the wayside in Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader against North Dakota State, but the Irish came back to defeat the Bison in Game 2 and salvage a split.

The 2-1 North Dakota State (25-16) win in the opener ended a 10-game win streak for Notre Dame (32-14, 14-3 Big East), who responded with a 5-0 victory in the nightcap. Game 1 was the first nonconference home contest the Irish had lost since 2007, a stretch covering 15 games.

The first game was truly a battle of the pitchers. Each team only scored during one inning, thanks to excellent pitching from both the Irish and the Bison.

“They come to play, and they were not a team to take lightly,” freshman left fielder Dani Miller said.

Notre Dame struck quickly in the opener, as junior Heather Johnson’s first-inning sacrifice fly scored senior Beth Northway, who reached on a lead-off double.

The Bison didn’t get to Irish senior pitcher Brittney Bargar until the bottom of the seventh inning. North Dakota State scored twice on Bargar – who holds a sparkling 1.69 earned run average for the season – by taking advantage of an Irish error. Notre Dame had two runners reach in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t score.

“Bargar does an amazing job, and she always comes with her ‘A’ game,” Miller said. “She had an awesome game today.”

Sophomore Jody Valdivia ran into trouble in the first inning but got a bases-loaded strikeout to get out of the jam. From there, Valdivia cruised to a shutout and improved her ERA to 2.49.

“Jody did a great job too,” Miller said. “In the second game we had more hitting to back Jody up, and that was the difference between the two games for us.”

On offense, Irish sophomore shortstop Katie Fleury hit a double that brought in two runs, giving the Irish the first lead of the game. The Irish scored again as freshman Alexa Maldonado was brought home by senior second baseman Linda Kohan.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Irish had their offensive highlight of the night when Kohan hit a two-run homer, moving the lead to 5-0.

“In the first game we struggled offensively, that change-up threw us off,” Miller said. “In the second game we picked it up.”

Notre Dame will host conference rival Syracuse for a doubleheader Sunday at Melissa Cook Stadium.