April 13, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame softball team battled blustery conditions to claim a gritty 11-2 win over Rutgers Saturday in five innings at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Originally scheduled as a doubleheader as part of the program's third annual Strikeout Cancer Weekend, the decision to play only one game was made due to persistent snow flurries at the start of the contest. The two teams will close the three-game BIG EAST series with a doubleheader Sunday, tentatively set for a noon first pitch.
Notre Dame, who raised more than $35,000 during the first two years of its Strikeout Cancer initiative, has already surpassed $15,000 in monies raised this weekend alone, all of which will benefit the South Bend Memorial Children's Hospital.
The Irish (27-10, 8-1 BIG EAST) took an early lead on an Emilee Koerner sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the first inning. Koerner's RBI fly out scored Jenna Simon from third base to give Notre Dame a 1-0 advantage.
Rutgers (23-16, 6-6 BIG EAST) tied the contest on a passed ball in the top of the third inning before Chandler Howard laced a one-out RBI single down the left field line, vaulting the Scarlet Knights in front 2-1. Laura Winter (16-8) struck out Jackie Bates and forced Alexis Durando to ground out to Katey Haus at third base to end the Rutgers half of the frame.
Notre Dame loaded the bases in the bottom of the third following back-to-back singles from Kelsey Thornton and Simon and a Koerner walk. Cassidy Whidden drove a 0-1 Alyssa Landrith (13-9) pitch on a line over the fence in left center field for a two-out grand slam, clearing the bases and putting the Irish on top 5-2. Haus followed with a solo home run into the right field bleachers to chase Landrith from the contest (6-2).
Winter posted a perfect half in the circle during the top of the fourth inning, inducing Melanie Slowinski and Howard to line out to Lauren Stuhr in left field, while striking out Loren Williams looking.
Winter tossed her 18th complete game of the season, allowing five hits in five innings to pick up the win.
Notre Dame loaded the bases again in the bottom of the fifth. Rutgers reliever Dresden Maddox hit Haus with the first pitch of her at-bat to score Koerner from third base (7-2). An illegal pitch by Abbey Houston brought pinch runner Carly Piccinich home from third base to up the cushion to 8-2. Pinch hitter Casey Africano ended the game with a walk-off three-run home run over the center field wall, the first home run of her collegiate career.
Haus led all Irish players with a 2-for-2 day at the plate, adding two RBI and two runs scored. Whidden finished with a game-high four RBI and scored twice, while Africano chipped in three RBI. Simon and Koerner each contributed a pair of runs scored to spearhead the Notre Dame offense.