April 24, 2016
by Tony Jones
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – In Sunday’s doubleheader against North Carolina to open a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series, the University of Notre Dame softball team countered a solid Tar Heel offensive effort in game one with offensive fireworks of its own in the nightcap. After North Carolina emerged with a 7-4 win in the day’s opening contest, the Irish struck for 12 runs on 10 hits to stop the Tar Heels 12-2 in five innings for a twin bill split at Anderson Stadium.
No. 18 Notre Dame (35-7, 10-4 ACC) closed the day with an 18-10 edge in hits over North Carolina (25-22, 9-11 ACC) despite the split, belting three home runs as part of 16 RBI. Irish hitters also contributed two crucial RBI doubles.
Rachel Nasland (13-1) earned the game two victory after throwing a complete game three-hitter, yielding two runs and four walks while striking out seven North Carolina hitters. The Notre Dame defense stranded four runners behind Nasland in the field during the win.
Katie Beriont allowed one earned run in relief of Allie Rhodes (16-5) in the day’s first contest, scattering three hits and striking out four Tar Heel batters. Beriont punched out four straight hitters during the third and fourth innings.
Micaela Arizmendi closed the day a combined 4-for-6 with two doubles, two home runs, four RBI and three runs scored to lead the Notre Dame offense. Morgan Reed added four hits, an RBI and two runs, while co-captain Karley Wester clubbed three hits, two RBI and scored one run. Megan Sorlie and Caitlyn Brooks each chipped in three RBI.
Notre Dame and North Carolina close the three-game ACC series with a 7 p.m. (ET) rubber match on Monday at Anderson Stadium. The series finale will be televised live on ESPNU.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
Ali Wester found an artful bunt single with one out to reach base before Melissa Rochford was hit by a Lauren Fuller (2-3) pitch in the top of the first. Caitlyn Brooks turned on a 0-1 Fuller offering and blasted a three-run home run deep and gone to left field one batter later. Brooks’ 10th long ball of the season made it quickly 3-0 Notre Dame. Micaela Arizmendi followed with a solo home run to straight away center field. Arizmendi’s seventh homer of 2016 put the Irish on top 4-0.
Rachel Nasland tossed an efficient three-up, three-down bottom of the first inning against the North Carolina order. Destiny DeBerry lined out to a diving Rochford on a bunt attempt, Taylor Wike grounded out to Ali Wester and second base a Kristen Brown struck out swinging.
North Carolina struck for one run in the bottom of the second, as Tracy Chandless connected on a solo home run to cut the Tar Heel deficit to 4-1. Nasland worked around a Berlynne Delamora single and Lauren Fuller double to stall North Carolina with a Darby Rosen swinging strikeout and Aquilla Mateen grounding out to second base.
Notre Dame would keep the offensive momentum against Fuller rolling along in the top of the third inning. Rochford worked a full-count walk before Arizmendi also walked on a 3-2 pitch. Morgan Reed ripped an RBI single into left field one batter to score Rochford and up the Irish lead to 5-1. Kimmy Sullivan followed with an RBI double to left field as a pinch hitter to plate Arizmendi (6-1). Megan Sorlie added a two-RBI base knock up the chute to bring home Reed and Sullivan for the 8-1 Notre Dame cushion.
The Tar Heels scraped one run back out in the bottom of the third after North Carolina loaded the bases with one out. Chandless earned a full-count base on balls to push DeBerry across to close the North Carolina gap to 8-2. Nasland immediately lined Delamora out to Rochford at third base, who doubled Chandless off at first base for the inning-ending out.
Notre Dame erupted for an additional four runs in the top of the fifth inning to pad its lead. Sorlie reached on a four-pitch walk, moving into scoring position after Bailey Bigler was hit by a pitch. Karley Wester knocked a single through the right side to load the bases with one out, where an Ali Wester walk scored Sorlie to push Notre Dame in front 9-2. Rochford connected on a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Bigler to tag up at third base (10-2). Brooks drew a walk to continue the inning for Arizmendi, whose two-run double down the right field line vaulted the Irish ahead 12-2.
Nasland blanked North Carolina with a three-up, three-down bottom of the fifth inning. DeBerry struck out swinging, Wike popped out to second base and Brown struck out chasing strike three for the game-ending putout.
Karley Wester opened the top of the first inning with a leadoff single to shortstop and advanced to second base after a North Carolina throwing error. A sacrifice bunt by Ali Wester moved the lead run to third, but consecutive outs forced by Tar Heel starter Kendra Lynch (21-16) left Wester standing on third base.
Lynch broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the first inning by blasting a three-run home run to right center field, clearing the bags for the 3-0 North Carolina lead. Allie Rhodes struck out Berlynne Delamora swinging and flew Tracy Chandless out to right field for the final out of the frame.
Notre Dame stormed right back with a big offensive inning in the top of the second. Morgan Reed got the rally started with a single down the left field line. After Reed stole second base, Megan Sorlie ripped an RBI single into left to plate Reed and bring Notre Dame within two at 3-1. A Bailey Bigler single moved herself and Sorlie into scoring position, where Karley Wester delivered two RBI on a single to left field that squared the contest at 3-3.
North Carolina regained the lead in the bottom of the second frame thanks to a Taylor Wike two-run double to right field with two outs, vaulting the Tar Heels on top 5-3. Rhodes grounded Lynch into a fielder’s choice at second base to end the inning.
Katie Beriont worked around a one-out walk in the bottom of the third inning to slow the North Carolina offensive. Leah Murray struck out looking and Maddie McCracken threw out Erin Satterfield trying to steal second base to end the Tar Heel stanza.
Arizmendi did her part to spark another rally in the top of the fourth, clubbing a leadoff home run over the left field wall off Lynch. Arizmendi’s opposite field shot, her sixth of the year, closed the Notre Dame gap to 5-4. A 50-50 double play call that followed a Reed single took the air out of the Irish sails, and Lynch forced a groundout to first base to cap the inning.
Beriont posted an equally strong bottom of the fourth inning, striking out the side in succession. Katie Bailiff struck out looking, Aquilla Mateen swinging and Destiny DeBerry swinging to turn aside the North Carolina batting order.
North Carolina added two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pad its lead to 7-4. A Lynch RBI single up the middle and a Chandless RBI double to right field scored Wike and Kristen Brown to extend the Tar Heel advantage.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.