SOUTH BEND — Quirks in the Big East softball schedule kept Louisville
and Notre Dame from meeting during the regular season.
The Irish (38-13, 16-3 Big East) weren’t thrilled about the Cardinals
(52-3, 20-2) entering the conference tournament as the top seed.
They finally have a chance to settle that score Saturday at 6 p.m.
Second-seed Notre Dame’s convincing 9-3 win over No. 6 St. John’s
(23-34) Friday, coupled with Louisville’s 2-0 verdict over No. 5
DePaul (35-20) set up the grudge match.
“Louisville is such a fun team to play against,” said Notre Dame coach
Deanna Gumpf. “Without playing them earlier, we don’t know them as
well as we normally would. I hope our scouting is on.”
Friday, Notre Dame’s offense was on.
Amy Buntin carried the big bat, driving in the first five Irish runs
with a three-run homer in the third and a two-run single in the
“Amy’s one of the most relaxed hitters we have,” Gumpf said. “Timing
is important with her.”
Buntin struggled in her first at-bat, lofting a lazy fly to right.
Things changed thereafter.
“I was so far out in front of the (fly to right),” Buntin said. “I got
an inside pitch on the second one and was able to hit it hard.”
“When (Buntin) is loose and relaxed, she’s at her best,” said Gumpf.
Heck, say that about the entire team. The Irish have impersonation
contests pre-game in the outfield, and the occasional chicken dance
contest when the music is played between innings.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Buntin. “We’re all loose.
It helps us forget any pressure.”
Actually, applying pressure is the job of Kelsey Thornton and Jenna Simon.
Both “slap” hitters, Thornton (from the 2-hole in the order) and Simon
(a freshman from Penn High), the No. 9 hitter, caused plenty of damage
Thornton had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run. Simon had a
hit and two walks, and scored each time.
“Speed never slumps,” said Simon, repeating her coaches’ mantra. “My
role is to get on base any way I can. It was an adjustment from high
school. The pitchers are so much better and the game is faster.”
Simon’s speed meets the challenge.
“I don’t think there’s pressure on me,” said Thornton. “My job is to
tap (the ball) and go. That puts the pressure on the defense.”
Irish pitcher Laura Winter ran into a pretty good St. John’s offense.
Erin Burner touched the Big East Pitcher of the Year for a two-run
homer in the sixth.
St. John’s had seven hits and Winter yielded a rare walk and hit-batsman.
Notre Dame 003 204 0 — 9 12 0
St. John’s 000 102 0 — 3 7 2
Laura Winter (W, 27-8); Ashley Beza (L, 14-21), Francesca Carrullo
(4), Beza (6).
2B — Katey Haus (N), Kristi Cady (S).
HR — Amy Buntin (N), Erin Burner (S).
Records: Notre Dame 38-13, St. John’s 23-34.
Att. — 779.
Umpires — Cindi Brunot (P), Terri Rosenwald (1), Bobby DeMayo (3).