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ND Softball: Wildcats claw past Irish

Megan Finneran | Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Northwestern scored nine runs in the fifth inning to erase an early Irish lead as the Wildcats pulled away from Notre Dame for an 11-3 victory Tuesday night in Evanston, Ill.

“In the fifth inning we just did not play Notre Dame softball,” senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said. “We didn’t shut the door.”

Irish senior catcher Amy Buntin loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, but the inning ended with all runners stranded when Northwestern senior center fielder Kristin Scharkey caught the last out.

The Wildcats (20-14) took a 1-0 lead with a home run from sophomore outfielder Olivia Duehr before Notre Dame junior pitcher Laura Winter closed out the inning.

The Irish (26-10) loaded the bases again in the third and tallied three runs to go up 3-1. Junior outfielder Lauren Stuhr scored first to tie the game 1-1 and a single from Buntin scored sophomore outfielder Emilee Koerner and freshman pinch runner Carly Piccinich. Notre Dame entered the fourth leading 3-1.

Northwestern captured another run in the fourth to narrow the gap to 3-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats exploded. Junior infielder Marisa Bast tied the game with a hit to center field. Then sophomore outfielder Andrea DiPrima hit a double to stake the Wildcats to a 4-3 lead. Northwestern added seven more runs to turn the game into a one-sided affair.

“When we play Notre Dame softball we can beat anyone,” O’Donnell said. “Today we did not do that and allowed a team to hang with us who shouldn’t have.”

Now the squad must push past the loss as it hosts Toledo (9-23) tonight. The Rockets come directly off a split against Oakland yesterday, winning the first game 6-2 before losing the second 9-7.

Senior second baseman Courtney McCarthy leads the Rockets at the plate with a .384 average and a .500 average over the last 15 games. Her five home runs have paced the Rockets offense this season. Senior right fielder Lindsey Tobias has also made her mark this season, sitting only one home run shy of tying the all-time record at Toledo.

O’Donnell said the Irish need to refocus on Toledo after Tuesday’s loss.

“From this game we just all need to reevaluate what we can each do a little better,” O’Donnell said. “We need to come out against Toledo with a burning desire to win and represent the University.”

The Irish next face off against Toledo tonight at 5 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Contact Megan Finneran at [email protected]