March 25, 2011
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NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Northern Illinois posted its lone run on three hits in the first inning of Friday's non-conference softball matchup with Notre Dame and appeared to have enough offensive momentum to pull off the upset at Melissa Cook Stadium. However, Notre Dame scored four straight - including a pair in the fifth inning - en route to a 4-1 win.
Jody Valdivia was tagged for four hits in her starting role from the circle, three of which came in the opening frame. The Huskies (10-12) left two on base and tacked on another hit in the second.
Brittany O'Donnell (3-0) stepped in to start the third inning and immediately went to work, fanning four of the eight batters she faced in 2.0 innings. O'Donnell worked well enough to earn the win and was aided by a pair of runs from the Irish offense.
Notre Dame (17-6) posted five hits in the contest - two from Heather Johnson - from four different batters.
The Irish began its quest to improve to 21-2 all-time in home openers by manufacturing a run in the second frame. Amy Buntin singled to left and advanced to third on one of two Huskie errors on the day. She would trot home on Alexia Clay's sacrifice fly to center.
O'Donnell worked around a Husky double in the third while leaving two runners on base. It was the only hit she surrendered from the circle.
Johnson singled to start the fourth and was replaced on first by pinch-runner Kelsey Thornton. Thornton stole second and advanced to third on Amy Buntin's foul flyout to first base. Clay notched her second RBI with a single up the middle.
Erin Marrone made her season debut in the inning after recovering from a knee injury. She flew out to left to end the stanza.
The final two runs came from a Johnson single through the glove of shortstop Amanda Sheppard. Alexa Maldonado and Katie Fleury drew walks to sit on the pond before Johnson's blast.
Laura Winter sent four batters packing on strikes in 3.0 of late relief to earn her second save of the campaign.
Northern Illinois received a pair of hits from Stephanie Tofft. Nicole Gremillion (1-2) lasted 4.0 innings and was knocked around for three hits and two runs.
Whitney Owens pitched the remaining 2.0 innings while giving up two hits, two earned runs and two walks.
Brianna Jorgensborg tripled in the sixth.
Head coach Deanna Gumpf improved to 9-1 in home openers.