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ND Softball: Captain Johnson continues to lead Notre Dame with hits

Kelsey Manning | Thursday, April 7, 2011

Looking to extend a five-game win streak, the Irish return home today to carry the momentum from Tuesday’s rout of Wisconsin into a doubleheader against Butler.

Though Wisconsin was not one of the toughest competitors of the season for Notre Dame (22-7), the team was able to overcome a slow start and come away with a 9-1 victory.

“You can never take any team for granted,” freshman pitcher Laura Winter said. “We have to go out thinking they are the best so that we bring our best game to the table. I didn’t come out sharp but the team did and we were able to bury them.”

The Irish struggled to generate offense at the outset of the game, but the drought was broken by reigning Big East player of the week and senior captain Heather Johnson, who knocked home Notre Dame’s first run in the third inning. Johnson not only extended her 12-game hitting streak, but kicked off a flurry of runs for the Irish including a three-run homer by junior infielder Dani Miller and consecutive triples by senior infielder Katie Fleury and sophomore catcher Amy Buntin.

“We definitely had a rally going and we took advantage of their errors by taking extra bases when we could,” Winter said.

Notre Dame was propelled to the victory by the offensive team effort, which the squad will look to continue tonight against Butler (18-11), a team that has earned some accolades of its own this past week. Butler junior first baseman Erin Falkenberry recently became the school’s all-time home run leader and was named Horizon League co-player of the week. The Bulldogs are also coming off a five-game win streak, with all five having occurred on the road. Notre Dame will hope to end that series tonight.

“I don’t know much about Butler but as always, we expect teams to have their best games against us so we have to come out swinging,” Winter said.

The Irish have not taken anything for granted this season, particularly after a few tough losses during spring break that left the team disappointed but ready to compete. Since then Notre Dame has been honing in on the details and improving significantly, especially in the pitching realm. Offensively the Irish are rolling, with several seasoned batters who have led the team to totals of nine, nine, seven, 12 and seven runs in its previous five games.

That continued offensive momentum will be key tonight as the Irish take on Butler at home at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.