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    Season's Historic Start Rolls On For Irish Softball

    FIGHTING IRISH Kasey O'Connor and the Irish are winners of nine straight games to start the 2011 season.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Kasey O'Connor and the Irish are winners of nine straight games to start the 2011 season.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Feb. 27, 2011

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

    MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. - Ten years ago, the Notre Dame softball team started the 2001 campaign with eight straight wins. One decade the later, the Irish bettered that school-record streak with nine straight wins after earning a pair of wins Sunday at the College of Charleston's Cougar Classic.

    Notre Dame began the day at Patriots Point with a five-inning, 10-1 victory over Marist. The team then went to work for a 6-4 win over Liberty for the program's 900th win in 23 seasons.

    A perfect 4-0 record at the Cougar Classic was made largely possible by a pitching corps which posted a 0.54 ERA in 26.0 innings. Jody Valdivia, Laura Winter, Jackie Bowe and Brittany O'Donnell each recorded a win with Valdivia also posting a save.

    The Irish hit .316 as a team in the four-game invite while out-scoring the opposition, 19-5. Alexa Maldonado hit .545 with six hits and six runs to pace the offensive unit.

    Notre Dame will next be in action March 4-6 at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.

    -Game 1-

    Maldonado led off the game with a double and moved to third on one of two Marist (0-5) errors in the contest. She trotted home on Heather Johnson's infield groundout.

    Seven hits produced seven runs in the second inning to put the game out of reach. Amy Buntin cranked a second straight inning-leading double, Alexia Clay was walked and Brianna Jorgensborg doubled to left-center to score Buntin. With a 2-0 lead, Kasey O'Connor singled to right to plate Clay. Two runners were on base when Maldonado's second home run of the season cleared the rightfield fence for Notre Dame's sixth run of the frame, all of which came with no outs.

    Danielle Klotz bashed a solo home run for Marist in the second, the only run allowed by O'Donnell (2-0) in 4.0 innings. O'Donnell struck out four in the two-hit starting role before giving way to Shannon Kelly. Kelly faced four batters and allowed one hit in 1.0 frame.

    Notre Dame left three runners on base in a scoreless third inning.

    Hayley Shelton (0-2) lasted 1.2 innings for Marist and was tagged for seven hits and seven earned runs.

    The Irish totaled 13 hits, including four in a two-run fifth inning to enact the mercy rule.

    -Game 2-

    It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.

    Liberty (2-2) and Notre Dame combined for seven errors and only four of the combined 10 runs were earned.

    Liberty committed four errors behind Katrina Johnson (1-1), who went 6.0 innings and was knocked around for seven hits and six runs, half of which were earned.

    Combining for the win were Bowe (1-0) and Valdivia, who stepped in for the final 2.2 innings to secure the save. Bowe punched out eight Flames and Valdivia turned away five.

    Two Flames were on base in the top of the first when Bowe struck out the next three. Four Liberty batters struck out twice in the contest.

    Maldonado got aggressive in the bottom half of the opener by beating out an infield grounder. A stolen base later, she put herself in position to score on another infield grounder by Johnson while sliding around the catcher's tag for a banger at the dish.

    The Irish scoring progressed with two more in the second and three in the third.

    Buntin singled in the second and moved ahead on Jorgensborg's sacrifice bunt. Laura Winter was hit by a pitch and O'Connor's single bumped Buntin home while Winter scored on an ensuing throwing error.

    Maldonado scored to start the third on a Katie Fleury single to put Notre Dame ahead, 4-0. Fleury accounted for an unearned run on a fielder's choice by Johnson, as did pinch-runner Monica Torres.

    Liberty notched a sacrifice fly to score its only run in the fourth, and each of its three runs in the fifth came with one out.

    Maldonado led all players with two runs, and seven different Irish players recorded one hit.

    Maldonado was also credited with three stolen bases.

    --ND--
     

     

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