April 24, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team scored seven unanswered runs, including four in the bottom of the fifth inning, to erase an early 2-0 deficit and defeat Valparaiso 7-2 on Thursday night at Melissa Cook Stadium. It was the ninth time this season that the Irish have come back to win a game in which their opponent scored first.
No. 21 Notre Dame (31-10) improved to a perfect 5-0 in non-conference games in 2014 at Melissa Cook Stadium, and 7-2 in home games overall. The Irish also won their 32nd straight game against Valparaiso, dating back to the 1990 season.
Senior pitcher Laura Winter (20-4) shook off a slow start in the circle with a dominant performance, striking out 13 Crusader batters while allowing only two runs on four hits and one walk in a complete game outing. Winter became the first pitcher in Notre Dame history to reach 1,000 career strikeouts with a fourth inning punch-out of Valparaiso (19-26) first baseman Tarah McShane. She also joined Heather Booth (’06) as just the second Notre Dame pitcher ever to win at least 20 games in all four seasons in an Irish uniform.
Junior All-American Emilee Koerner led all offensive players with three base hits, including a two-RBI double, and scored one run. Koerner’s double was her 20th of the season, making her the first batter in team history to ever hit 20 doubles in multiple seasons after setting the program-high with 21 in 2013. The Tustin, Calif. native is two doubles shy (53) of tying Katie Laing (’08) for the program record of 55 career two-baggers.
Junior Jenna Simon added a 2-for-3 day at the plate and tied a career-high with three runs scored, while sophomore Micaela Arizmendi hit her team-leading 11th home run of the season. Junior Cassidy Whidden chipped in a pair of base hits to aid the Notre Dame cause.
A pair of strikeouts to open the game for Winter was snapped when Valparaiso second baseman Amanda Wisniewski went deep and gone to left center field, giving the Crusaders a 1-0 lead. McShane added a second straight solo jack to left center, pushing the visitor’s lead to 2-0. Winter struck out catcher Janelle Bouchard looking to end the top of the first inning.
Simon advanced on a full-count walk in the bottom of the first inning with one out. Koerner followed with a sneaky bunt single in front of the plate. Arizmendi drew a 3-2 walk to load the bases with two away. Valparaiso starter Taylor Weissenhofer (12-8) forced a fly ball out to leave the bases loaded and thwart the Irish advance.
Winter retired the side in both the top of the second and third innings, striking out Jorgi Calombaris and Wisniewski swinging to shut the door on the Crusaders in consecutive frames.
A leadoff single and a stolen base from Simon in the bottom of the third gave Notre Dame another runner in scoring position. Junior Katey Haus then crushed an RBI double through a stiff wind into the right center gap, plating Simon to bring the Irish within one run at 2-1.
Winter made Notre Dame history in the top of the fourth inning, striking out McShane to record her 1,000 career strikeout. A punch-out of Bouchard and a Jessie Marinec lineout to shortstop closed the half of the inning.
The Irish loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth inning, and finally broke through against Weissenhofer. A sacrifice fly to right from Haus allowed freshman Karley Wester to tag from third base, and a throwing error from Valparaiso right fielder Kaitlyn Ranieri enabled Simon to score from third base, giving Notre Dame a 3-2 lead. Arizmendi then hit a no doubt, line drive home run through a powerful wind into the right field bleachers, clearing the bases and putting the Irish on top 5-2.
A two-out single from Wisniewski was all Valparaiso could muster in the top of the sixth, as Winter struck out McShane looking for her 10th strikeout of the game to end the Crusader ups.
Notre Dame added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Koerner became the first player in Irish history to record 20 doubles in consecutive seasons by lining a 2-2 pitch from reliever Mollie Lindeman into the gap in left center field, scoring both Wester and Simon and capping the Irish scoring at 7-2.
Valparaiso managed one more single off Winter in the top of the seventh, but the Notre Dame ace was up to the task, striking out the side to end the contest.