PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 11, 2012) – The Rutgers softball team picked up its first victory against Notre Dame since the 2008 season, splitting Wednesday afternoon’s BIG EAST doubleheader at the RU Softball Complex. The Scarlet Knights fell 4-1 in game one, but came from behind in game two, thanks to a grand slam from freshman Ashley Alden (Ivyland, Pa.) and the game-winning double in the ninth inning from freshman Chandler Howard (Wilmington, Del.), to give RU a 7-6 victory.
Rutgers (17-21, 6-7 BIG EAST) snapped a six-game losing streak with the walk-off win and handed The Fighting Irish (20-11, 4-1 BIG EAST) their first conference loss of the season.
In game two, Notre Dame jumped on the board first, as a double from senior designated hitter Kasey O’Connor drove in freshman third baseman Katey Haus – who reached on a fielder’s choice – putting ND out in front 1-0.
The Fighting Irish strung together a pair of hits from senior center fielder Alex Maldonado and junior right fielder Kelsey Thornton and loaded the bases with a walk for the team’s RBI leader Dani Miller. Miller grounded out to drive in Maldonado from third and give Notre Dame the 2-0 advantage.
ND would add three more runs in the top of the fourth inning on Rutgers’ miscues, ending starting pitcher Abbey Houston’s (New Egypt, N.J.) day after 3.1 innings, five hits and three earned runs.
Junior second baseman Jennifer Harabedian (Flemington, N.J.) started the rally in the bottom half of the fourth, reaching base on an error by the shortstop. Howard recorded her first of three hits in the contest to move Harabedian into scoring position. Junior shortstop Ashley Bragg (Middletown, Del.) laid down the sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, but a muffed catch by the covering second baseman left the bases loaded.
Freshman right fielder Jackie Bates (Lincroft, N.J.) picked up her only hit of the afternoon, a single to left field, to drive home Harabedian from third and keep the bases full. Alden rocketed a shot up the left field line – the second grand slam of her career – to tie the game at five. The Scarlet Knights put two more batters on base before forcing starting pitcher Brittany O’Donnell to end her day after 3.1 innings of work, three earned runs, three hits and five strikeouts. The game one starter, Laura Winter came in relief to get the Fighting Irish out of the inning.
Freshman pitcher Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) – who came in relief to finish the top of the fourth – retired three-straight batters in the top of the fifth, giving Howard a chance to continue where the RU bats had left off in the fourth, leading off the inning with her second-career home run, a solo shot over the fence in left center field, to give the Scarlet Knights a one-run advantage, 6-5.
Notre Dame did not go quietly however, evening up the score at six in the top of the seventh inning on three singles and sending Rutgers into extra innings for the first time this season.
The game would remain tied until the bottom of the ninth when Harabedian blasted a one-out double into left field and Howard followed with her fourth double of the year, for the walk-off victory.
Landrith picked up her 12th win of the season – the most wins by an RU pitcher since Nicole Lindley in 2009 (12-12) – tossing 5.2 innings and allowing one run on four hits. Winter (13-7) worked 5.0 innings of relief for the Fighting Irish and allowed two runs on four hits in the losing effort.
In game one, Rutgers fell in a hole as a hit batter and a throwing error were followed by a home run to give Notre Dame a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Butin chipped in a solo home run in the third to put ND out in front 4-0.
The Scarlet Knights got one back in the bottom of the fourth as senior third baseman Brittney Lindley (Cicero, N.Y.) launched her fourth home run of the season into left center field, bringing RU within three, 4-1. However, Rutgers was unable to make the comeback.
Landrith – game two’s winning pitcher – pitched all seven innings in game one, picking up a loss after allowing three earned runs on seven hits. Winter – who picked up the loss in game two – earned the complete game win, surrendering one run on three hits and striking out seven batters.
The Scarlet Knights conclude their five-game homestand over the weekend with a three-game series against BIG EAST conference opponent Villanova. The series opens with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 14 and wraps up on Sunday with a single game. Both days are scheduled to start at noon at the RU Softball Complex.
Fans are reminded to leave extra travel time on Saturday due to the Rutgers open house beginning at 9 a.m.
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