April 14, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Kelsey Thornton scored from third on Jenna Caira's wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh to secure a 4-3 walk-off win for the Notre Dame softball team in the first of two games against visiting Syracuse Saturday at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The BIG EAST Conference doubleheader ended with Syracuse posting an 8-2 win in game two.
Playing host to its second annual Strike Out Cancer Day, the Irish (21-12 overall, 5-2 BIG EAST) wore commemorative orange-clad gear while raising money for the South Bend Memorial Hospital Pediatric Hematology / Oncology Program.
Syracuse, donning solid orange swag from head to toe, will auction off their commemorative jerseys and donate the proceeds to South Bend Memorial Children's Hospital.
The two teams will square off at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday for the rubber match of the three-game series.
Caira (18-4) suffered her first loss in the circle after coming out on top in her last 15 decisions while Notre Dame's Laura Winter (13-7) shined in the complete-game, seven-hit effort with nine strikeouts. Winter, who leads the nation in fewest walks allowed per 7.0 innings, did not issue a free pass against the Orange (29-10, 6-2).
Caira allowed four hits in the contest with the most damage being done by Emilee Koerner in the bottom of the first in the form of a two-RBI double to tie the game at 2-2.
In the top half of the frame, Stephanie Watts belted a two-run homer and Lisaira Daniels went yard with a solo shot in the third.
The Irish knotted the score at 3-3 with Katey Haus' solo home run in the sixth en route to snapping Syracuse's eight-game winning streak.
Alexa Maldonado reached base in the bottom of the seventh on one of three Orange errors in the contest. Thornton reached on a fielder's choice and both runners moved ahead a bag on sacrifice bunt by Amy Buntin.
Maldonado nearly scored the winning run on Dani Miller's infield grounder but was tagged on the back while trying to slide around Lacy Kohl at the plate. Thornton moved to third on the play and hustled home on Caira's fourth wild pitch of the contest.
Syracuse scored a pair in the second inning of game two with the Irish neutralizing the output with two scores of their own in the bottom of the third for the game winner.
Koerner, who went 3-for-4 in game two, scored on a passed ball and Buntin crossed the plate on an RBI single to right by Miller in the third inning of the latter contest.
Syracuse rattled off two-RBI doubles in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings while out-hitting the Irish in the contest, 9-6.
Daniels and Veronica Grant each had three RBI for the Orange.
Stacy Kuwik (9-3) recorded the win without allowing an earned run in 7.0 innings work. With six punchouts, Kuwik has now struck out 43 batters in her last four starts.
The loss dropped Notre Dame to 8-1 on the season in home contests.