May 11, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Amy Buntin drove in five runs and Jenna Simon crossed the plate three times as Notre Dame coasted to a 9-3 win over St. John's during Friday's BIG EAST Conference Softball Championship semifinals matchup at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Both Buntin and Simon tied the league tournament's respective records for the individual outputs.
The sixth-seeded Red Storm fell to 23-34 with the loss.
Second-seeded Notre Dame (38-13) moves on to face top-seeded Louisville for the tournament crown at 6 p.m. (ET) Saturday. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.
Following its 17th straight win, Notre Dame will be aiming for its seventh BIG EAST Championship trophy. The last title came on Louisville's home field in 2009 with a 1-0 blanking of DePaul.
Notre Dame and Louisville have met six times in the conference tournament - and twice in its final affair - with Louisville holding a 4-2 edge in those contests. In fact, the Cardinals have been the only team to eliminate the Irish from the tournament since 2007. Louisville defeated Notre Dame in the 2007 title game held in South Bend with Notre Dame picking up a 1-0 win at Ivy Field for the 2006 crown.
Kelsey Thornton posted a game-high three hits and despite permitting the first earned run from the circle in 30.0 innings, Laura Winter (27-8) picked up her 13th straight win. Winter scattered seven hits including a two-run homer to Erin Burner in the sixth.
The home run came a half inning before Notre Dame posted a four-spot to put the game out of reach. Four hits led to four runs for the Irish in the top of the sixth, including RBI singles by Thornton, Dani Miller and Emilee Koerner. Katey Haus added a sacrifice fly during the rally to put the Irish ahead, 9-1.
Haus chipped in two of Notre Dame's 12 hits on the day.
Both Ashley Beza (14-21) and Francesca Carrullo allowed six hits during stints in the circle for the Red Storm.
A trio of Buntin's RBI came from a moonshot in the third to score Simon and Thornton which put the Irish ahead, 3-0.
Chloe Saganowich pounded a base hit and Simon was walked for a second time in the fourth and both runners advanced a bag on Thornton's sacrifice bunt. Buntin lined a single off the glove of Burner at shortstop which caromed into the outfield long enough to score both runners.
St. John's put runners on first and second in the fifth but left without anything to show for it as Chrissy Montez lined out to Alexa Maldonado in centerfield who tossed the rock to second for an inning-ending double play.
Simon singled to start the sixth and scored on Thornton's bloop single to left as the Irish romped to a 6-1 lead. Thornton trotted home on Miller's single up the gut and Koerner drove in the eighth Irish run with a one-bagger to right.
Notre Dame's second double play of the contest ended the semifinal matchup.