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ND Softball: Irish sweep Huskies in doubleheader

Megan Finneran | Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Notre Dame (35-10, 15-1 Big East) returned home Tuesday for a doubleheader sweep over Connecticut (22-22, 6-10) in Melissa Cook Stadium. The squad earned two wins – 6-0 in game one and 11-1 in five innings in game two – extending its winning streak to nine games. The second win marked Deanna Gumpf’s 500th career win as Irish head coach.

Junior pitcher Laura Winter led the squad on the mound in game one, only allowing two hits against the Huskies in six innings. Winter was named the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week on Tuesday.

The afternoon took a slow start until a double by junior infielder Chloe Saganowich in the bottom of the fourth gave the Irish a 3-0 lead by sending home junior outfielder Lauren Stuhr, sophomore catcher Cassidy Whidden and freshman pinch runner Carly Piccinich.

Winter rode the momentum of the runs, quickly ending the top of the fifth with two strikeouts and an easy groundout.

Senior catcher Amy Buntin then rose to the occasion for the Irish, hitting a double to send sophomore infielder Jenna Simon home from third and advancing to third herself on the throw. Winter followed with an RBI of her own on a sacrifice fly to score Buntin, stretching the lead to 5-0. The Irish added another run in the inning for the final margin.

“Our hitters one through nine executed at the plate when we needed it and our pitchers found a way to get outs and keep us in the ball game,” Buntin said.

Winter closed out the top of the sixth in less than three minutes with three straight outs. 

Freshman pitcher Allie Rhodes ended the game on the mound for the Irish with one strikeout in a perfect seventh inning.

In game two, the Huskies took an early 1-0 lead when freshman third baseman Lexi Gifford was singled home after two walks. Notre Dame went scoreless in the bottom of the first and second before taking off in the third.

A Buntin single sent sophomore center fielder Emilee Koerner home to tie the game at one. Winter stepped up to the plate next with another single, advancing to second on the throw and sending Buntin and Simon home to end the inning with a 3-1 lead. The Irish scored eight more runs in the bottom of the fourth, overcoming a 20-minute rain delay to widen the gap. Buntin finished the game with three RBI, two runs scored and a home run.

“The two games against UConn gave us a lot of confidence in our game going into this weekend for DePaul,” Buntin said.

The Irish next face DePaul in a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday in Chicago.

Contact Megan Finneran at [email protected]