April 7, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team won its third straight BIG EAST series, downing Villanova 9-3 Sunday at Melissa Cook Stadium to claim the weekend set two games to one.
The Irish (26-9, 7-1 BIG EAST) outhit the Wildcats (13-19, 1-8 BIG EAST) 14-4, and held a 2-1 edge in extra base hits (all three were home runs). Notre Dame scored six runs on seven hits in the bottom of the sixth inning, breaking what had been a 3-3 tie.
Notre Dame threatened in the bottom of the first inning after a single by Laura Winter with two outs gave the Irish runners on the corners against Villanova starter Kate Poppe (13-12). Wildcat third baseman Briana Fujii made a nice stab at the hot corner on an Amy Buntin grounder to keep Notre Dame from pushing a run across.
Cassidy Whidden broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second inning, crushing a line drive home run deep and out to left center field. The sophomore’s sixth home run of the season gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. After Katey Haus was hit by a pitch and Micaela Arizmendi chipped in a single, Jenna Simon slapped an infield hit to score pinch runner Monica Torres from third base (2-0).
Winter (15-7) kept Villanova off the scoreboard in the top of the third. Shea Palmer and Taylor Olafson struck out swinging, and Amanda Marquez grounded out back to the circle to end the Wildcat half.
Winter surrendered four hits in seven innings, striking out seven Villanova batters. The junior right-hander improved her conference record to 5-1 with the victory.
Villanova answered in the top of the fourth inning, as Fujii blasted a three-run shot over the center field fence to vault the Wildcats in front 3-2.
The Irish responded in the home half of the fourth, as a Poppe throwing error after a Kelsey Thornton infield single allowed Whidden to score from second base, tying the contest at 3-3.
Lauren Stuhr made a great play in left field in the top of the sixth inning, chasing down a Valerie Ortega shot to the gap and laying out to rob the Wildcat first baseman of a base hit. Winter struck out Beth Smetana swinging to end the frame.
Haus drilled a 2-2 Poppe offering over the center field wall to open the Irish scoring in the bottom of the sixth. The third baseman’s two-run home run gave Notre Dame a 5-3 advantage. A Simon single with two runners on scored pinch runner Carly Piccinich from third base (6-3). An RBI single by Stuhr and an illegal pitch by Villanova’s Kaity Sitzman pushed the Notre Dame lead to 8-3. A Winter single to right center later in the inning scored Stuhr from third base (9-3).
Winter and Simon led all batters with matching 3-for-4 games at the plate, with Simon chipping in two RBI. Whidden scored a game-high three runs.
Notre Dame treks to Northwestern Tuesday for a non-conference matchup at 4 p.m. (CT).