May 13, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - For the fourth time in five seasons at the BIG EAST Conference Softball Championship, Louisville proved to be a thorn in Notre Dame's side. This time the Cardinals put together a 6-0 win Friday at Ulmer Stadium to eliminate No. 18 Notre Dame from the league tournament for the second straight campaign.
Sandwiched between a 2009 win en route to winning the tournament crown, Notre Dame's last four losses at the event have been at the hands of the Cardinals (36-17), who were this year's fifth-seeded squad.
The defeat snapped a 14-game winning streak for Notre Dame (45-9), whose last loss came ironically came to Louisville during a regular-season meeting on April 17. It was also the first shutout loss for Notre Dame in the tournament since 2001, and the third time the Irish have been blanked through 54 contests in 2011.
A pair of two-out hits in the second set the table for Taner Fowler's RBI single to right-center to get things going for Louisville in front of its hometown crowd. The knock came on a 3-2 offering from Brittany O'Donnell (10-1), the 13th pitch of her at-bat after fouling off the previous seven. O'Donnell induced a Hannah Kiyohara liner to Heather Johnson at third to end the frame with Cardinal runners on the corners.
Notre Dame went the small-ball rout to start the third. Brianna Jorgensborg was hit by pitch, advanced to second on Lauren Stuhr's sacrifice bunt and was joined on base by Alexa Maldonado after a bunt single. Heather Johnson was intentionally walked to load the bags. One batter later, Louisville got a huge out when Dani Miller fouled out to catcher Maggie Ruckenbrod.
There wasn't much air left in the Irish tires after that.
O'Donnell allowed a home run for just the third time on the season when Chelsea Bemis went yard for a three-run shot in the third to put Notre Dame on top, 4-0. Louisville added another run on reliever Jody Valdivia.
Louisville managed five with O'Donnell in the circle. O'Donnell suffered her first loss of the season after collecting 10 straight, giving up four earned runs in 2.0 innings.
Valdivia threw 2.0 innings of two-run ball, and Laura Winter held the Cardinals to one hit in the final 2.0 scoreless frames.
Sadie Pitzenberger singled in the fourth and was left on base along with Erin Marrone.
Katie Keller added a solo home run in the fourth to push the Cardinal lead to 6-0. Keller homered twice against the Irish during the three-game regular season series.
Katie Fleury and Marrone singled in the sixth but were both left on the pond. Notre Dame left nine runners on base.
The win went to a steady Tori Collins (16-9) after striking out seven batters during a complete-game effort. She walked four and gave up four hits.
Notre Dame awaits its NCAA Tournament destiny when ESPN will air the Division I Softball Selection Show at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday (May 15).