April 13, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Heather Johnson extended her hitting streak to 18 games Wednesday at Melissa Cook Stadium while pacing No. 24 Notre Dame to an 8-0 non-conference softball win over visiting Loyola-Chicago in six innings.
Johnson's lone hit came during a three-run first inning for the Irish (29-7) to also extend her streak of consecutive games with at least one RBI to 14. In fact, Johnson has produced multiple RBI in half of those games.
Loyola-Chicago (15-16) had Notre Dame's number in the last two matchups, defeating (then) No. 24 Notre Dame in just five innings with an 8-0 shutout in 2010. Notre Dame needed eight innings to post a 4-3 win over the Ramblers in 2008 prior to a 2-2 draw in the latter game of that season's doubleheader.
Today was a different story.
Notre Dame batted through the lineup and registered six hits in the opening inning and even left the bases loaded. Alexa Maldonado roped a double to left-center on the first pitch of the game, followed by singles from Alexia Clay, Johnson, Dani Miller and Katie Fleury. Amy Buntin reached on a fielder's choice and Erin Marrone drove in a run with a single through the left side.
Rambler starter Seana Stillson (2-7) failed to record a single out and tossed only nine pitches resulting in three earned runs. Stillson faced five batters, each of whom registered a hit.
Keali Engelkens, who produced 5.2 innings of eight-hit ball, relieved Stillson in the first. Engelkens gave up five runs - three earned - and fanned three.
For the Irish, Laura Winter (16-2) punched in her eighth straight win in as many decisions. Winter turned away nine batters on strikes. Brooke Andresen and Engelkens each singled off of Winter.
With 13 hits on the day, Notre Dame has reached double-digits in that category in eight of the last 12 contests.
Riding a 4-0 lead, Fleury drove in a pair of scores in the fourth with a scorching double down the leftfield line.
Chloe Saganowich scored an unearned run in the fifth.
Notre Dame's final run was aided by another Rambler error when right fielder Lauren Zaworski's relay of Marrone's outfield single landed in no-man's land. Kristina Wright scored from second on the final play of the game.
The Ramblers had more errors (4) than hits (3) on the day.
Miller drove in four runs during a perfect 4-for-4 performance in the batter's box.
Fleury accounted for three RBI for the second time this season.
Jody Valdivia mopped up the Ramblers in the sixth with a one-hit effort from the circle.
The Irish resume their six-game homestand by playing host to Louisville (April 16-17) this weekend for a three-game BIG EAST Conference series.