Feb. 14, 2015
BATON ROUGE, La. – It went right down to the final out in the nightcap against unbeaten No. 16 LSU, with the University of Notre Dame softball team primed for another huge victory early in the 2015 season. A masterful pitching job in relief by Tiger freshman Allie Walljasper stranded six Irish runners over the final two innings, leading LSU (8-0) to a 3-2 win over Notre Dame on Saturday during the Tiger Invitational at Tiger Park.
No. 19/20 Notre Dame (5-2) opened the day with a 4-1 win over Central Arkansas (5-4) in its first contest of the Tiger Invitational. The Irish outhit opponents 15-10 during the two-game slate, which included two doubles and one home run.
Senior co-captain Jenna Simon established a career-high with four hits against Central Arkansas, posting a perfect 4-for-4 effort with an RBI and two runs scored against the Bears. Junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi added a combined 3-for-6 (.500) showing at the plate in the twin bill, clubbing an RBI double and a solo home run to aid the Irish cause.
Sophomore Rachel Nasland (1-1) was masterful in the nightcap against LSU, tossing six innings of three-hit softball, surrendering one earned run and striking out six Tiger hitters in a hard-luck loss. Junior Allie Rhodes (2-1) went the distance for Notre Dame against Central Arkansas, allowing one run on seven hits and striking out five in a complete game victory.
Notre Dame closes play at the Tiger Invitational with a pair of games on Sunday at Tiger Park. The Irish and Hofstra are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. (CT), followed by a rematch with LSU tentatively set or 11:30 a.m. Live stats for both contests will be available through CBS Gametracker at UND.com.
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.
Game One – #19/20 Notre Dame 4, Central Arkansas 1
Senior Jenna Simon got the Notre Dame offense moving in the top of the first inning, singling off Central Arkansas starter Kylee Studioso (4-2) into left field. A pair of wild pitches moved Simon into scoring position at third base with one out. A third wild pitch allowed Simon to score from third, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
“You just have to be aware of what’s going on at the beginning,” Simon said about the wild pitches. “When I’m on third, obviously looking where the ball bounces off the backstop. If it goes directly back to the catcher I can’t go, but off to the side like it was I can make it home.”
A lone walk was all that the Bears managed against junior starter Allie Rhodes in the bottom of the first frame. Three groundouts, including the latter two right at freshman Sara White at shortstop, ended the Central Arkansas half of the inning.
Two singles put a pair of Central Arkansas runners on in the bottom of the second inning, but a heads-up play from sophomore All-American Karley Wester on a flare to left field by Tori Seasor retired Hannah Stirton at third. A hard line drive to White at short and a sprawling tag on Audrey Pratt at second base turned the Bears aside on an inning-ending double play.
Central Arkansas tied the contest with two outs in the bottom of the third after an RBI base knock up the middle from Sarah Bigej plated Briana Wisenhunt from second base, squaring the score at 1-1. Rhodes came back strong following a Notre Dame error with two outs, striking out Stirton swinging to escape the jam.
Simon picked up her third infield single of the day off Studioso with a great slap to shortstop in the top of the sixth inning.
“The field was really soft today, and my game is bouncing the ball on hard ground,” Simon said. “I had to work extra hard to get those big bounces. Just working on getting on top of the ball and getting the ball on the ground, and from there going where the pitch is. If it is outside go away with it, inside take it in with me.”
A passed ball by Central Arkansas catcher Jessie Taylor with junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi at the plate two batters later moved Simon into scoring position at second base. Arizmendi delivered on the RBI chance, crushing a 2-0 pitch to the gap in right center field to plate Simon and give Notre Dame a 2-1 advantage.
Two singles got the Central Arkansas offense in motion in the bottom of the sixth, but Rhodes proved she was again up to the task. Swinging strikeouts by Pratt and pinch hitter Bailey Reynolds stranded both Bear runners on base and pulled the Irish southpaw out of the huge jam.
Notre Dame posted two insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning to extend the lead. An RBI groundout by Wester to second base pushed junior Casey Africano in from third base, upping the Irish cushion to 3-1. One batter later, Simon established a career-high with her fourth hit of the game, a high slap to shortstop that brought White home from third base (4-1).
“It felt good (to have four hits), and it helped get the team going,” Simon said.
A lone single was the only damage felt by Rhodes in the home half of the seventh. Rhodes struck out Sam Forrest and forced Wisenhunt to pop out to White at shortstop to end the game.
Game Two – #16 LSU 3, #19/20 Notre Dame 2
A four-pitch walk for sophomore All-American Karley Wester kicked off the top of the Notre Dame first against LSU starter Carley Hoover (2-0). A sacrifice bunt from senior Jenna Simon moved Wester into scoring position, and a groundout by senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner brought Wester to third base. Hoover froze senior Cassidy Whidden looking on a 3-2 pitch to stand the Irish runner.
A.J. Andrews worked a full-count walk against Notre Dame starter Rachel Nasland to open the bottom of the first inning. A throwing error by the Irish on a ground ball from Bailey Landry scored Andrews all the way from first, giving LSU a 1-0 lead. An RBI double from Sahvanna Jaquish plated Landry from third one batter later (2-0). A double from Sandra Simmons drove Jaquish in from third, running the Tiger cushion to 3-0. Nasland struck out Allie Walljasper swinging to halt the LSU threat.
Junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi put a charge into a Hoover offering leading off the top of the second, crushing a 0-2 pitch deep and gone over the wall in straightaway center to bring the Irish within two at 3-1.
It was three-up, three-down for LSU in the Tigers half of the second inning. Nasland struck out Constance Quinn, Emily Griggs and Andrews all swinging to hang a zero on the home side of the scoreboard.
Nasland capped her third straight shutout half inning in the bottom of the fourth frame against the LSU lineup. A Simmons fly out, Walljasper strikeout and Quinn ground out kept the Tigers from gaining any offensive traction.
Following a great stab at third to end the LSU ups the previous inning, Haus roped a leadoff single off Hoover into left field in the top of the fifth. A wild pitch advanced Haus into scoring position at second. Junior Casey Africano delivered a stinging RBI double into the right center gap, plating pinch runner Carly Piccinich from second base to trim the deficit to 3-2 LSU. Wester followed with an inside-out single to left field to push Africano to third, where a sharp lineout to left by Simon stalled the Notre Dame rally.
A 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth for Nasland established a career-high for innings pitched for the Notre Dame hurler. Jaquish fouled out to shortstop, Kellsi Kloss flew out to center and Simmons grounded out to first for a quick three-up, three-down LSU half of the inning.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant