March 26, 2016
by Tony Jones
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The University of Notre Dame softball team evened its Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series at Syracuse with a game one 6-1 victory Saturday, but could not sustain the momentum in the nightcap against the Orange. Syracuse scored six runs over four innings to down the Irish 6-4 at the Skytop Softball Stadium.
No. 19/17 Notre Dame (24-5, 4-2 ACC) finished with nine total hits in the opening game win over Syracuse (16-15, 3-6 ACC), keyed by a strong three-hit complete game pitching outing from Rachel Nasland (8-0). Nasland issued only one walk while striking out nine Syracuse hitters to remain undefeated in 2016.
Notre Dame returns home to host IPFW on Wednesday at 5 p.m. (ET). The nonconference matchup from Melissa Cook Stadium will air live on WatchND.
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.
Karley Wester led off the top of the first inning by ripping a single up the middle off Syracuse starter Jocelyn Cater (7-5), taking second base after it was left uncovered. Ali Wester moved the lead run to third base with a sacrifice bunt, where a wild pitch from Cater brought Karley Wester across for the 1-0 Notre Dame advantage.
Syracuse tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the first, as Corinne Ozanne connected on her seventh home run of the season to square the game at 1-1. Rachel Nasland regained her composure with her third strikeout of the inning, getting Sydney O’Hara striking out swinging to end the frame.
After Rachel Burkhardt opened the bottom of the second inning with a single to shortstop, Nasland shut the door down on Syracuse in the inning. Alicia Hansen popped up to the pitcher, Hannah Dossett popped up to shortstop and Olivia Martinez struck out swinging.
Singles for Ali Wester and Melissa Rochford started the top of the third to fire up the Notre Dame offensive attack. With the runners at second and third base, a dropped fly ball on a towering hit to left by Micaela Arizmendi allowed Wester to score to push the Irish ahead 2-1.
Nasland came out strong with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth against the Syracuse order. O’Hara struck out looking, Burkhardt went down on swinging strikes and Hansen lined out to left field.
Notre Dame padded its lead by heating up the offense once more in the top of the fifth inning. Karley Wester opened with a double to the gap in left center, advancing to third on an Ali Wester sacrifice bunt. Rochford clocked an RBI double down the left field line one batter later, plating Karley Wester to push the Irish cushion to 3-1. Arizmendi then delivered an RBI two-bagger to right center to bring across Rochford (4-1). Caitlyn Brooks took O’Hara deep in her first batter faced out of the dugout, crushing a two-run shot over the right field wall. Brooks’ sixth of the year gave Notre Dame a 6-1 lead.
Nasland remained locked in during the bottom of the fifth. Dossett flew out to left field thanks to a great play by Bailey Bigler, Andrea Bombace struck out swinging and Kelsey Johnson grounded out to Arizmendi unassisted at first base.
Nasland would yield a lone bunt single to Hansen in the bottom of the seventh the rest of the way to nail down her first complete game of the season. Dossett struck out swinging on a 0-2 pitch to end the day’s first game.
Karley Wester opened game two the same way she opened the day’s first contest, notching a leadoff single in the top of the first inning. After assuming the Notre Dame career stolen bases lead with steal number 77 and advancing to third on a ground ball out, Wester ultimately scored on an AnnaMarie Gatti (7-8) wild pitch to make it 1-0 Irish.
Syracuse leadoff hitter Sammy Fernandez reached by way of a fielding error in the bottom of the first, but Notre Dame starter Allie Rhodes (11-4) found a rhythm from there. Strikeouts of Maddi Doane and Corinne Ozanne and a Rachel Burkhardt groundout to second base stranded Fernandez at second.
The Orange took the lead in the bottom of the second on three straight successful bunts, the last of which scored Alicia Hansen to vault Syracuse in front 2-1. Rhodes came back to pop Doane out to shortstop for the final out of the frame.
Syracuse extended the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning after Doane connected on a two-run double to left center field, putting the hosts in front 4-1. Katie Beriont struck Ozanne out looking in relief to end the Orange ups.
Syracuse plated two more insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend its lead. A Dossett triple and Notre Dame fielding error furthered the Orange advantage to 6-1 before Beriont grounded Alyssa Dewes out to shortstop.
Bailey Bigler reached on a leadoff error in the top of the sixth inning against Gatti before Ali Wester worked a two-out walk. Micaela Arizmendi struck with two on and two out, driving a three-run home run over the left field wall to trim the deficit to 6-4.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant 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.