Clutch Performances Clinch Wins For Notre Dame Softball

March 5, 2011

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

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Less than 24 hours after seeing its nine-game win streak snapped, the Notre Dame softball team started a new streak with two wins Saturday at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The day began an eight-inning, 4-3 win over North Carolina followed by a 5-3 victory against another Atlantic Coast Conference foe in Maryland.

Amy Buntin crushed a game-tying two-run home run against the Tar Heels (12-7) and Alexia Clay added to the heroics with a sacrifice fly to push across the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.

Shannon Kelly preserved the win against Maryland (6-7) by leaving three Terrapins on base in the seventh to earn the save from the circle.

Fordham will be Notre Dame's (11-2) next opponent at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The two teams will square off at 9:00 a.m. (ET) Sunday morning.

-Game 1-

Ally Blake went 3-for-4 for North Carolina as each of the first three Tar Heels in the lineup scored one run.

Both teams had eight hits - with Dani Miller and Buntin recording two apiece - and combined to strand 14 runners on base. In fact, the Tar Heels left five runners in scoring position through the first three innings after their leadoff hitter reached base safely in each of those frames.

Alexa Maldonado broke up Lori Spingola's no-hitter in the third with a blooper to right. Katie Fleury singled to center and moved to second on the throw as Maldonado jetted to third. The pair was left stranded when Heather Johnson's fly ball to center fell just short of the fence to end the inning.

Spingola, the reigning NFCA National Player of the Week, threw 7.2 innings and gave up three earned runs on eight hits. Her record fell to 9-5.

Spingola was aided by the bats of Blake and Kelli Wheeler, each of whom sent solo homers out of the park in the fifth off of Irish starter Jody Valdivia (4-1). Valdivia held her own by allowing two earned runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts in 8.0 innings.

Buntin's home run came after Johnson roped a single to left early in the sixth, and the sophomore evened the score with one steady swing of the bat.

Aided by the international tie-breaker rule in the eighth inning, North Carolina took a one-run lead in its half of the extra period.

Fleury was placed on second base for Notre Dame and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Johnson. Miller singled up the middle to score Fleury, making it a 3-3 affair.

Buntin came through with a single to send Miller to third, and Clay's launch to right resulted in a sacrifice fly to bring home Miller.

-Game 2-

Johnson went yard in the top of the first, sending the first pitch she saw over the leftfield fence. Johnson had two hits in the game - as did Miller - to bring Notre Dame's total to nine.

The Irish blanked Maryland for the first five innings before the Terrapins used two hits score a pair in the sixth.

Maryland threatened again in the seventh, loading the bases and crossing one run while entering the inning trailing by 5-2. Kelly kept her cool and stranded three runners with a strikeout in her 1.0 inning of relief.

The win went to Laura Winter (4-0) after the freshman dialed in for 5.0 shutout innings with three strikeouts.

Middle relief duties went to Brittany O'Donnell as she gave up two runs on two hits in 1.0 inning.

Kendra Knight (1-3) was tossed around for five runs - two earned - on five hits in the opening 3.0 innings. Kerry Hickey blanked Notre Dame for the final 4.0 innings and gave up four hits.

The difference in the contest for Notre Dame came in the third inning. Maldonado singled but was retired at second on a Fleury fielder's choice. Johnson banged a one-out single and Buntin was walked to load the bases. Clay drew a walk to score Fleury and Jorgensborg's fly ball to right was bobbled to clear the bases with a trio of unearned Irish runs, bumping the Irish lead to 5-2.

Maryland left nine runners on base.



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