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ND Softball: Team wins three over weekend

Laura Myers | Monday, April 6, 2009

The Irish took three of four games in Big East competition this weekend, splitting a doubleheader with Pittsburgh Saturday and routing Seton Hall twice Sunday.

Notre Dame (21-12, 7-2 Big East) lost the first game 5-2 Saturday, ending its eight-game win streak, before coming back for a 7-1 win in the second. Sunday, the Irish won the first game 9-0 and the second 13-0. Both contests were shortened to five innings.

In her two starts, freshman pitcher Jody Valdivia (8-5) gave up only one run in 12 innings of work. She struck out 15 Panthers on Saturday, matching a career high.

“[Valdivia] has really come into her own,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “She has always been a very good pitcher. She has a lot of confidence right now. She is focused in on every single pitch and that’s a big difference.”

In Saturday’s first game, Pittsburgh (15-18, 3-9) scored three runs in the second inning and two in the fourth off of senior pitcher Brittany Bargar (13-7), who took the loss despite only two of the runs being earned.

The Irish were unable to muster any significant offensive challenges in the game, scoring one in the third inning on a double by junior first baseman Christine Lux and another in the sixth when Lux scored on a wild pitch.

“It wasn’t a bad weekend in that we did take three out of four,” Gumpf said. “Every team that comes into Notre Dame is out to play their best game and beat us and that’s what Pittsburgh did.”

Lack of offense wasn’t a problem for the rest of the weekend.

“My whole goal every year is to have the best hitters hitting and the best hitters playing,” Gumpf said. “They’re making it tough on me because I have not only nine hitters doing well, I have 10 or 11. I like that they’re competing with each other for playing time.”

The Irish scored seven runs on eight hits in game two against Pittsburgh, departing from the home-run driven offense they have used for the past couple weeks.

Sophomore right fielder Erin Marrone and senior second baseman Linda Kohan each had two hits for the Irish in that game.

Marrone stood out again Sunday when she came to bat with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of the first game against Seton Hall and hit it over the fence for her first career grand slam.

“Marrone has put herself in the starting lineup with some really great at bats,” Gumpf said.

Lux also homered in game one, a two-run shot that put the Irish up 3-0 after the first inning.

It was more of the same in the second game, as the Irish scored five times in the first inning and four times in both the second and third frames.

After the offensive explosion of the first game, Gumpf said the team was not expecting to do so well in the next.

“You hope they don’t get comfortable, and they didn’t,” Gumpf said. “They came out and attacked Seton Hall again the second game. I was very impressed. I thought they did a great job.”

Notre Dame now sits in third place in the Big East, behind Louisville and DePaul, who will come to South Bend on Wednesday for a doubleheader that will begin at 5 p.m.