March 4, 2011
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Notre Dame fell to No. 1 Alabama, 4-1, Friday at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex on the opening day of the Diamond 9 Events Citrus Classic. The non-conference softball defeat dropped Notre Dame's overall record to 9-2, as earlier in the day Longwood downed the Irish by a 2-0 count.
Notre Dame is still able to hang its hat on a nine-game winning streak to open the campaign, the best jaunt to begin a season in school history.
However, the glory road came to a halt as Notre Dame matched up with a pair of undefeated squads in Longwood (9-0) and Alabama (17-0).
Saturday will feature an 11:30 a.m. (ET) game with North Carolina which will be shown on ESPN3. The Irish will later square off with Maryland at 3:00 p.m.
Live stats will be available at UND.com.
Briana Wells (7-0) limited Notre Dame to a mere two hits while striking out a pair in 7.0 innings for the win.
Amy Buntin and Jackie Bowe (1-1) recorded singles for the Irish, who left six runners on base. Bowe started in the circle and went 1.2 frames while surrendering one hit and one earned run, a second-inning sacrifice fly by Jordan Cox.
Cox's knock scored Ashley Kramer, who singled to start the stanza. Kramer reached third on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch.
Laura Winter followed Bowe with 4.1 innings of work. She gave up one earned run on five hits with six strikeouts.
Both Kramer and Nicole Simmons notched two hits apiece for Longwood. Simmons doubled to left in the sixth, stole third and continued home on Kramer's RBI-double to left. The Lancers would leave three on base in the penultimate inning.
Top-ranked Alabama rallied behind Jackie Traina's complete-game, 12-strikeout performance to run her pitching record to 6-0.
Traina, who did not allow an earned run, went deep into the count with a number of Irish batters and came out on top of most of those battles.
Traina was tagged for six Irish hits as Jody Valdivia (3-1) gave up eight hits to the Crimson Tide. Valdivia went the distance and struck out eight but permitted three earned runs to score.
Alabama posted one run in each of the last four innings, and Notre Dame worked its way out of number of jams by stranding eight opposing runners.
Alabama left two runners in scoring position in the first as the Irish left one in scoring position in the second when Buntin singled and moved to second on a passed ball.
After showing earlier promises of scoring, the Crimson Tide saw Kaila Hunt smack a two-out double to left to crack open the scoring with a 1-0 lead.
The lead doubled in the fifth when Whitney Larsen's infield single to Valdivia scooted Courtney Conley for a run.
Hunt tacked on Alabama's third score with a solo homer in the sixth to extend the Crimson Tide lead to 3-0. Hunt finished with two hits and two RBI, and Kayla Braud was a perfect 4-for-4 with one run scored.
The Crimson Tide defensive opened the door for Notre Dame in the sixth, as the Irish used four hits to produce one run while leaving two potential tallies on the pond.
Maldonado, who led the Irish with two hits, bumped an infield single to join Bowe on base after the first baseman started the frame with a single. Katie Fleury singled to load the bases and Heather Johnson ripped a fielder's choice to third base to push across Bowe. Dani Miller singled through the left side with one away and two runners on board, but Fleury was picked off while rounding third base a bit too aggressively.
Traina fanned two in the bottom of the seventh to end the contest.