Feb. 23, 2014
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - The University of Notre Dame softball team went toe-to-toe with No. 6 Oregon Sunday, and a tremendous clash of wills left both teams scoreless through seven frames. The sixth-ranked Ducks utilized key extra inning hits and dodged a late Irish onslaught to earn a 2-0 win in nine innings on the final day of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
No. 24 Notre Dame (10-3) finished the tournament with a 4-2 record, batting a cumulative .341 for the weekend with a 30-18 edge in runs. The Irish also outhit the opposition 59-36, which included 13 doubles.
Sophomore Micaela Arizmendi kick started the Notre Dame offense against Cheridan Hawkins (7-1) in the bottom of the fifth, roping a leadoff ground-rule double over the wall down the right field line. A sacrifice bunt from sophomore Casey Africano moved pinch runner Carly Piccinich to third base. A fly out to right field and a Hawkins strikeout stranded the Irish runner at third base.
An infield single from Courtney Ceo and a stolen base moved the Oregon runner into scoring position at second base in the top of the sixth inning. Senior Laura Winter (6-2) froze Alexa Peterson looking to hold the Oregon player at second base.
A two-out infield single by junior Katey Haus and a Hawkins wild pitch advanced Haus over to second base. Hawkins bounced back with a huge strikeout on a 2-2 count, keeping Notre Dame from moving the runner any further on the paths.
In the first extra frame, a successful sacrifice bunt from senior captain Chloe Saganowich moved placed runner Monica Torres to third base. A huge strikeout from Hawkins and intentional walks to junior All-American Emilee Koerner and freshman Karley Wester loaded the bases. Haus tagged the second pitch she saw from Hawkins deep to center field, but Oregon center fielder Alyssa Gillespie tracked the ball down for the third and final out of the frame.
Ceo finally got the Ducks on the board in the top of the ninth inning with an infield slap single, scoring placed runner Nikki Udria from third base for the 1-0 Oregon lead. A sacrifice fly from Peterson allowed Janie Takeda to tag at third and score the second run of the frame. Hawkins held Notre Dame in check in the home half of the inning to secure the Oregon win.
A bunt single from Oregon's Peterson found its way through the Notre Dame infield in the top of the first inning, but a wide turn at third base from Ceo led to a putout at home plate by the Irish defense. Winter then forced Janelle Lindvall to ground out to junior Jenna Simon at second base to end the Ducks half of the inning.
Winter motored through the Oregon order in the top of the second, striking out Kailee Cuico and Gillespie swinging and forcing Stevie Jo Knapp to line out back to the circle for the final out of the frame.
Winter was masterful in a complete game effort for the Irish, surrendering seven hits in nine full innings to one of the top lineups in the country. She did not yield a walk during the contest, and her 10 strikeouts were one off equaling a season-high.
Takeda broke through for the Ducks in the top of the third inning, grooving a triple to the left field gap. A great play from left fielder Wester to shortstop Saganowich to catcher Africano at the plate put out Takeda at home to stun Oregon and get the Irish out of the half inning.
Saganowich came through after a 10-pitch battle with Hawkins with a hard-hit single to shortstop for the first Notre Dame hit of the ballgame in the bottom of the third. A sacrifice bunt from Simon moved Saganowich into scoring position at second base. A Hawkins strikeout of Koerner and a Wester pop out to first base stalled the Irish surge.
A bunt attempt by Gillespie in the top of the fifth inning was popped straight up behind the plate, and Africano made a sprawling dive to corral the ball in foul territory. Consecutive strikeouts looking of both Knapp and Karine Shaver completed the 1-2-3 inning for Winter and the Irish.
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-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant