March 25, 2016
by Tony Jones
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The temperature on the thermometer hovered around the point of freezing, and the University of Notre Dame softball team and Syracuse both battled to find their way on a cold afternoon at the Skytop Softball Stadium. It was the Orange who made the most plays on the day, taking a 5-2 victory over the No. 19/17 Irish in the first game of an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series on Friday.
A Notre Dame (23-4, 3-1 ACC) throwing error with two outs in the bottom of the first inning not only prolonged the Syracuse (15-14, 2-5 ACC) half but allowed Corinne Ozanne to score and give the Orange a 1-0 lead. A Rachel Burkhardt RBI single one batter later brought Sydney O’Hara in to extend the Syracuse advantage to 2-0. Allie Rhodes (11-3) escaped the inning by forcing Hannah Dossett to pop out to first base.
The Irish looked to make something happen in the top of the second after Caitlyn Brooks reached by way of a fielding error and Morgan Reed ripped a single to advance the lead runner to third base with one out. Syracuse starter AnnaMarie Gatti (6-8) forced back-to-back ground ball outs to leave both runners stranded on base.
Notre Dame found a rally in the top of the third inning. A leadoff double by Bailey Bigler and an Ali Wester single gave the Irish two runners on with one out. Melissa Rochford followed with a stinging double that rolled all the way to the wall in left center, clearing the bases to tie the game at 2-2.
Syracuse immediately re-took the lead in the bottom of the third by way of the first career home run for Alicia Hansen, pushing the Orange back on top 4-2. Rachel Nasland entered in relief and forced Alyssa Dewes to ground out back to the circle to limit the damage in the frame.
Nasland threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth inning against the Syracuse order. Sammy Fernandez popped out to shortstop, Maddi Doane struck out looking and Ozanne also popped out to short to retire the Orange side.
Dossett came through with a clutch one-out double off the right field wall for Syracuse in the bottom of the fifth inning, plating Aliyah Wade to push the Orange advantage to 5-2.
Notre Dame fought back with one final rally attempt in the top of the seventh inning. Bigler ripped a strong single to left center with one out and advanced to second base thanks to a Syracuse fielding error. Co-captain Karley Wester followed with an infield single to shortstop to put a pair on with one away, but the Syracuse infield answered with two great plays in the field to close out the game.
Both teams return to the Skytop Softball Stadium to complete the three-game conference series on Saturday, with first pitch of game two set to begin at 10 a.m. (ET).
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.
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.