April 21, 2013
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The University of Notre Dame softball team utilized a fast start in the top of the first inning to cruise to a 7-0 BIG EAST Conference victory over Pittsburgh Sunday at Vartabedian Field.
The Irish (33-10, 13-1 BIG EAST) controlled the Panthers (16-27, 5-12 BIG EAST) in the series finale, outhitting Pittsburgh 9-1. The series sweep was the fourth for Notre Dame this season in BIG EAST play, and improved the Irish to 29-2 all-time against Pittsburgh.
Laura Winter capped a sensational weekend with her third home run of the series, ultimately finishing 5-for-9 (.556) at the plate with a team-high eight RBI in three games. Chloe Saganowich added a pair of hits in the game, including her first home run of the season.
In the circle, Winter (21-8) put together a masterful performance, taking a perfect game deep into the seventh inning before allowing her only hit of the day, a one-out single to Jordan Fannin. Winter’s 14 strikeouts tied a season-high she recorded against Oklahoma Feb. 17, and were one from equally a career-best (15, at Providence 4/28/12).
Emilee Koerner led off the top of the first inning for Notre Dame and was hit by an errant pitch on the first ball thrown by Panther starter Savannah King (8-14). Katey Haus joined Koerner on base after a throwing error, and both players were ushered home by a line drive rocket from Winter over the center field fence that gave the Irish a 3-0 advantage.
Winter made quick work of the first two innings, highlighted by striking out the side in the bottom of the second frame.
The Irish lead held at three until the top of the fifth inning, when a bloop single from Winter over the head of the second baseman scored Jenna Simon from second (4-0). Later in the frame, Casey Africano drove home Amy Buntin, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, on an RBI single to up the score to 5-0 in favor of Notre Dame.
Winter plowed ahead in innings three through five, recording six more punch-outs without allowing a base runner.
In the top of the sixth, Saganowich drilled the first pitch she saw from Alexa Larkin over the center field wall for her first round-tripper of 2013 (6-0). Koerner later singled home Kelsey Thornton, who re-entered to run for pinch hitter Jackie Bowe, to push the lead to seven runs at 7-0.
The bottom of the sixth inning saw Winter notch two more strikeouts while goading the third Pittsburgh batter into a ground out to Katey Haus at third base.
Winter’s perfect game bid was broken up with one out in the bottom of the seventh on a quick-falling single to shallow center field by Fannin. Winter went on to strike out the next two batters to bring her game total to a season high-tying 14 and cap the Irish victory.
Notre Dame hosts Connecticut in a BIG EAST Conference doubleheader Tuesday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The first game is slated to begin at noon, with the nightcap to follow at 2 p.m.