April 6, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Junior shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) hit her first career home run and freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) pitched a six-hit shutout as Villanova (13-18, 1-7 BIG EAST) defeated Notre Dame (25-9, 6-1 BIG EAST), 1-0, in the second game of a doubleheader at Melissa Cook Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The win snapped a 17-game regular season BIG EAST winning streak for the Fighting Irish and also is the Wildcats first league win of the season.
Poppe (13-11, 2.29 ERA) pitched her 11th complete game and second shutout of the season for the win, allowing six hits and walking two while striking out seven. Two of the six hits came in the bottom of the seventh inning as Notre Dame tried to scratch out the tying run but Poppe got Amy Buntin to foul out behind the plate for the final out of the game.
The only offensive support Poppe needed was supplied in the top of the fourth inning. Lowe, who was 2-for-3 in the game, led off the inning and hit the first pitch she saw over the left field fence for her first home run. She also singled in the top of the first inning and had three hits total in the doubleheader.
Both teams finished the game with six hits and Villanova won its first 1-0 game since beating UMKC on February 27, 2011. There were runners on base against Poppe in every inning except the bottom of the third but she was in complete command of the game from start to finish.
In the bottom of the first inning the Fighting Irish had their best scoring chance of the game with runners at second and third and only one out. Poppe intentionally walked cleanup hitter Laura Winter to load the bases and eventually escaped the inning unscathed by striking out Lauren Stuhr and Katey Haus in succession.
Poppe went through a stretch where she retired eight of nine batters, beginning with the strikeout of Stuhr in the first inning. The only other potential jam she faced was in the bottom of the fourth inning when a single and a walk gave Notre Dame runners at first and second with nobody out. Those runners never moved as Poppe set down three straight to dispel the scoring threat.
On their way to picking up the win the Wildcats continued some of the momentum they finished the opening game of the doubleheader with. In that game the Fighting Irish won 4-1 but scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the second inning. From that point on Villanova threw 11 straight scoreless innings to finish the day.
Winter (14-7, 1.69 ERA) pitched a complete game for Notre Dame in the loss, allowing six hits and Lowe's home run while walking none and striking out six. She had pitched four scoreless innings to earn the win in the opening game.
The three-game series between the teams wraps up on Sunday at 11 a.m.
NOTES: Prior to today's victory the Wildcats had lost nine straight games against the Fighting Irish since registering a 4-1 win at Melissa Cook Stadium on April 13, 2008 ... Villanova has only five wins on 47 all-time meetings against Notre Dame, although four of the five wins have come in South Bend ... Poppe's other complete game shutout this season came on Opening Day when she threw a one-hitter against Albany ... As a team the Wildcats have four shutouts for the season.