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    Youth Springs Eternal For Irish On Opening Day

    FIGHTING IRISH Alexa Maldonado saved the day with a late-inning, two-RBI single in Notre Dame's win over Miami (Ohio).
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Alexa Maldonado saved the day with a late-inning, two-RBI single in Notre Dame's win over Miami (Ohio).
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Feb. 18, 2011

    Game 1: Box Score | Box Score Get Acrobat Reader
    Game 2: Box Score | Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

    ORLANDO, Fla. - In two pitching appearances on the opening day of the 2011 softball season, freshman Laura Winter earned a win and a save to boost Notre Dame to a 2-0 record Friday at the UCF Invitational.

    Head coach Deanna Gumpf put the ball in Winter's hand with the Irish trailing Miami (Ohio), 2-1, in the fifth inning of the day's first bout. Winter responded with 2.1 frames of one-hit ball and five strikeouts, and was aided by a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to give Notre Dame a 3-2 win at the UCF Softball Complex. Winter also added an early RBI to help her own cause.

    Owning a 5-3 lead heading into the seventh inning of the nightcap with UCF, Winter made quick work in the circle by earning the save after tossing 1.0 inning of scoreless ball.

    Day two of the tournament features a matchup against Illinois-Chicago at 11:30 a.m. (ET) on Saturday and a 4:30 p.m. game with Delaware.

    Live stats will be available at UND.com. In-game updates can be followed on Twitter (@NDsoftball).

    -Game 1-

    Three freshmen - Chloe Saganowich, Lauren Stuhr and Winter - cracked the starting lineup in their collegiate debut.

    Alexia Clay singled through the left side in the top of the first and went to second when Heather Johnson drew a walk. Winter singled through the left side to plate Notre Dame's first run of the season, which proved to be the deciding factor in the contest.

    Miami (Ohio) had two hits through the first four innings but made its run in the fifth with a pair of scores. Shannon Tillett's two-out single brought home Brandi Hernandez and Jenna McGivney to put the Redhawks ahead, 2-1.

    In stepped Winter (1-0), who proceeded to log a strikeout to end the fifth inning. She blanked the Redhawks (1-1) over the next two frames.

    Irish starter Jackie Bowe pitched 4.2 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits. Bowe also struck out three players.

    Kasey O'Connor began the Irish comeback in the seventh with a single to rightfield. Bowe moved the runner and stayed on base with a sacrifice bunt, and hustled home on Alexa Maldonado's two-RBI single.

    The Redhawks singled to start the bottom half but failed to advance the runner. Winter struck out the final two batters.

    Jessica Simpson (0-1) threw 7.0 innings and gave up three earned Irish runs on six hits in the loss.

    -Game 2-

    Notre Dame turned to its veterans to help earn its second win on the day.

    Jody Valdivia (1-0) did not allow a UCF (2-5) runner on base until the fourth. Valdivia gave up three earned runs on three hits in that inning, giving way for Brittany O'Donnell to pitch the next pair of frames. O'Donnell gave up one hit and struck out two before Winter walked one during her 1.0 inning of cleanup duty.

    Dani Miller had two of Notre Dame's nine hits, including a fourth-inning single that moved Clay to third after the fifth-year senior started the inning with a double. Clay made it a 1-0 game on Amy Buntin's single up the middle.

    UCF emerged with three runs on three hits in the bottom half of the inning. Back-to-back doubles did the deed and forced an Irish pitching change.

    Answering in the fifth was Notre Dame, who racked four runs on three hits. Stuhr singled to center and moved to second on Katie Fleury's sacrifice bunt. Johnson belted a two-RBI double and later scored an unearned run. Clay also scored an unearned run on Brianna Jorgensborg's sacrifice fly to put Notre Dame ahead by the final margin, 5-3.

    --ND--
     

     

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