May 3, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - -
A four-run seventh inning, sparked by Melissa Roth's two-run homer gave the No. 18 University of Louisville softball team 6-5 win over host Notre Dame in the first game of a the final BIG EAST doubleheader of the season. The Irish came back to take the second game 7-4. Louisville (46-8) set a new single season record for victories and finished third in the regular season standings with a 19-5 mark in league play. Notre Dame (38-15, 19-4) is second. DePaul will claim the regular season title.
"Kristen Wadwell did a good job in first game controlling Notre Dame's offense," said U of L head coach Sandy Pearsall. "She had to work very hard out there because Notre Dame has a potent offense. I was especially impressed with how our team responded in seventh. We came back and fought hard and got us into position to win. In the second game, our team did a great job hitting ball, it just wasn't enough to offset Notre Dame's offense. I'm proud of their performance against a very good hitting Notre Dame team."
In game one, the Cardinals broke through a scoreless tie with two runs in the top of the third. Vanessa delivered a one-out single through the right side and scored on Melissa Roth's RBI triple. Roth came home on Chelsea Bemis' single up the middle to make it a 2-0 game.
The Irish responded in the home half of the inning when Beth Northway singled down the left field line. Heather Johnson's base hit placed runners on the corners for Christine Lux's RBI single. Johnson crossed the plated on an error on the play to knot the score at 2-2.
Lux's two-out home run in the bottom of the fifth gave Notre Dame a 3-2 lead.
Notre Dame added two more runs in the sixth when Katie Fleury registered a leadoff single and Erin Marone followed with an RBI double and came around to score on a groundout to increase the lead to 5-2 as the game entered the seventh inning.
With the Cards down three runs, James reached on a one-out infield single to set up Roth's team-leading 16th home run of the season, a two-run shot over center field to pull the Cards within a run. Kristin Austin
singled and Bemis was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Notre Dame reliever Jody Valdivia entered the game and struck out Kassie Stanfill
to bring up Kristi Cunningham
who worked the count full and then popped up to the right side. A dropped fly ball fell in for a two-run error to push Austin and Bemis home, for the 6-5 lead.
Louisville starter Kristen Wadwell retired all three Notre Dame batters in the bottom of the seventh to get her nation-leading 39th win.
Roth was 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBI to pace the Cards offensively. Austin, Wherry and James also had a pair of hits. Wadwell (39-7) went the distance to get the win, allowing five runs, four earned, on nine hits and striking out five.
Brittney Bargar (21-10) took the loss, giving up six runs, four earned on nine hits. Northway, Lux and Fleury had two hits.
In game two, Roth led off the game with a double and came home on Wherry's RBI single to put the Cards out in front 1-0.
The Irish quickly responded with Linda Kohan's home run in the bottom of the first.
Notre Dame pulled ahead 2-1 in the second when Marrone led off with a doubled and scored on Northway's double.
The Irish erupted for four runs in the fourth to take a 6-1 lead. Alexa Clay led off with a single and scored on Northway's double. Kohan connected on an RBI single and Heather Johnson followed with a two-run homer.
The Cards got two runs back in the top of the fifth on Bemis' two-run single which scored James who had doubled and Roth who had been hit by a pitch to make it a 6-3 game.
Marrone's leadoff home run in the fifth extended the Notre Dame lead to 7-3.
Cunningham led off the sixth with her 12th home run of the season, a solo shot over centerfield to make it a 7-4 game.
It appeared the Cards might have some late inning magic when Austin led off the seventh with a double and Kassie Stanfill's single placed runners on the corners with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate. This time Cunningham's pop up was safely caught for the final out of the game.
Tori Collins (7-1) took the loss, allowing seven earned runs on 13 hits and striking out three in six innings. Wherry and Stanfill had two hits.
Valdivia (17-5) picked up the win, giving up four earned runs on 11 hits and striking out five in seven innings. Johnson paced the Irish offense with a 3 for 3 performance at the plate.
U of L will return to Ulmer Stadium to host the BIG EAST Conference tournament May 7-9. The Cards earned a No. 3 seed and will play the No. 6 seed, Connecticut Thursday at 6:30 p.m.