April 7, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Sophomore third baseman Briana Fujii (San Jose, Calif.) hit a three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning but a 3-3 tie was snapped in the bottom of the sixth inning and Villanova (13-19, 1-8 BIG EAST) lost the finale of a three-game series to Notre Dame (26-9, 7-1 BIG EAST) at Melissa Cook Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Fujii's first home run of the season gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning and the Fighting Irish tied the score at 3-3 with a single run in the bottom half of the inning. In the sixth inning Notre Dame sent 10 batters to the plate to not only retake the lead but put the game out of reach in the process with six runs on seven hits.
Cassidy Whidden, who hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning, was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the sixth and Katey Haus followed with a two-run home run over the center field fence. Whidden scored three runs in the game, while Jenna Simon and Laura Winter each had three hits.
Villanova, meanwhile, had just four base runners in the entire game but still rallied from a two-run deficit after the Fighting Irish took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) and sophomore designated player Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) hit consecutive singles with one out in the fourth inning they moved up to second and third, respectively, when freshman right fielder Sierra McConnell (Katy, Texas) grounded out.
Fujii was up next and she drove a 1-2 pitch over the fence in center field to give the Wildcats a one-run lead against Winter (15-7, 1.75 ERA), who pitched a four-hitter in a complete game effort. She walked none and struck out seven. The only other hit for Villanova aside from the fourth inning rally was a single by freshman left fielder Aleshia Ayers (Sacramento, Calif.) leading off the top of the third inning.
After the home run by Haus gave the Fighting Irish the lead for good with nobody out in the sixth inning the next four straight batters all singled as Notre Dame kept moving runners around the bases. Simon and Lauren Stuhr each hit run-scoring singles, another run scored on an illegal pitch and Winter completed the rally with an RBI single.
Freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) pitched five-plus innings for the Wildcats and took the loss. She allowed eight hits and hit three batters while being charged with five runs allowed, of which four were earned. Poppe (13-12, 2.39 ERA) neither walked nor struck out a batter and finished without a strikeout for the first time this season in 28 appearances, including 21 starts.
Villanova hosts a BIG EAST doubleheader against Rutgers on Wednesday afternoon, with the first game beginning at 1 p.m.