May 15, 2009
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Sophomore pitcher Jody Valdivia earned her first NCAA Tournament win and Katie Fleury drilled a two-RBI single in the sixth to give the 25th-ranked Notre Dame softball team a 3-1 win over Cleveland State in the opening round of the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional at Michigan's Wilpon Softball Complex. The Irish victory on Friday marked Valdivia's 17th win in as many decisions from the circle.
Valdivia (19-5) threw 3.0 innings of two-hit ball with five strikeouts while facing 12 batters.
Notre Dame (42-15) now faces the winner of the matchup between top-seeded Michigan and fourth-seeded Miami (Ohio). That contest will begin Saturday (May 16) at noon (ET) with live stats available at UND.com.
The second-seeded Irish were out-hit by the third-seeded Vikings, 7-5, but used the two-run sixth inning to break open a 1-1 game after both teams registered solo home runs in the opening two stanzas.
An energized Cleveland State (35-17) squad got on the board when Amanda Houchin smacked a two-out home run to left, her fourth first-inning home run in the last six games.
A light rain began to fall when Notre Dame found paydirt in the second with Dani Miller's 11th home run of the season. Brianna Jorgensborg added a single through the left side of the infield in the frame.
Both teams relied on their defense in the middle innings by gloving whistling liners and making routine plays on a number of forceful infield groundballs. Valdivia took over the Irish pitching duties for Brittney Bargar in the fifth inning after Bargar struck out four with one earned run allowed on five hits in 4.0 innings.
After an hour rain delay the Irish gave up a Natalie Dematteis single to center in the sixth, though the Vikings were left scoreless.
Linda Kohan ripped a lead-off double to right in the home half of the inning and Heather Johnson was hit by an Amanda Macenko (28-13) offering to put two runners on base with no outs. Christine Lux surprised everyone with a sacrifice bunt to move both runners ahead a bag and Miller wore a Macenko fastball to load the bags. The next pitch was lined up the middle by Fleury to score pinch-runners Christine Farrell and Kasey O'Connor which gave Notre Dame a 3-1 lead.
Cleveland State brought the bottom of the lineup to the dish in the seventh and managed to put two runners on base with two outs as Andrea Nagy was hit by a pitch and Christa Coppus singled up the middle. Danielle Young represented the winning run at the plate but went down on three strikes.
Shalyn Adams led all batters with two hits in three at-bats.