May 14, 2016
by Tony Jones
RALEIGH, N.C. — An early lead for the University of Notre Dame softball team was unable to stem the offensive tide of one of the best offensive lineups in the nation on Saturday in the final game of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship. No. 6 and top-seeded Florida State scored four runs in the third inning and two in the fourth on its way to a 7-3 win and the 14th conference title in its history at the Dail Softball Stadium.
No. 20/23 Notre Dame (41-11) finished as an ACC finalist for the second time in three seasons as a league member, adding Saturday’s setback to a title game appearance against Florida State (48-8) in 2014. Notre Dame’s Rachel Nasland, co-captain Karley Wester and Ali Wester were each all-tournament team selections.
Notre Dame awaits an at-large bid during the unveiling of the 2016 NCAA Championship field on Sunday at 10 p.m. (ET). The Irish have appeared in the NCAA tournament 20 times in 28 seasons.
Karley Wester led off the top of the first inning with a single through the left side off Florida State starter Meghan King (22-3). King logged three straight outs, including a strikeout, to leave Wester stranded at second base.
Florida State took the lead in the bottom of the first inning after Jessica Warren ripped an RBI single through the left side to score Morgan Klaevemann and put the Seminoles in front 1-0. Allie Rhodes (18-6) stranded two Florida State runners on the pond with a strikeout of Zoe Casas.
Notre Dame responded with a run of its own in the top of the second. Kimmy Sullivan ripped a single off the center field wall and Casey Africano followed with a single into center field. Bailey Bigler drove an RBI single into center that brought Sullivan home and tied the game at 1-1.
Rhodes motored through a three-up, three-down bottom of the second inning against the Florida State lineup. Carsyn Gordon popped out to second base, Alex Kossoff also hit a soft pop up to Ali Wester at second and Cali Harrod struck out swinging.
Micaela Arizmendi piped up a full-count pitch from King in the top of the third inning and crushed a solo home run over the wall in left center field. Arizmendi’s 10th home run of the season gave Notre Dame the lead at 2-1.
Florida State connected on three home runs in the bottom of the third inning to score four runs, with the final long ball off the bat of Casas, to open a 5-2 lead. Katie Beriont flew Gordon out to right field to limit the damage in relief.
Notre Dame picked up a run on a solo home run from Africano that traveled deep and gone to left field off King in the top of the fourth inning. Africano’s third home run of the season trimmed the Florida State lead to 5-3.
The Seminoles put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single off the bat of Klaevemann and a bases loaded walk issued to Sydney Broderick, making it 7-3 Florida State. Nasland entered in relief and shut the door for the remainder of the game, throwing 2.1 innings of no-hit softball with two walks and two strikeouts.
An Ali Wester single with one out in the top of the fifth inning looked to start a rally, but Arizmendi just missed her second home run of the day on a warning track fly out to left field. King secured another inning-ending strikeout to halt the threat.
The final eight Notre Dame hitters of the ballgame would ultimately be retired by King over the closing 2.2 innings, including a strikeout and pair of infield fly ball outs in the top of the seventh frame.
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 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.