April 16, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A total of 11 players recorded at least one base hit, and after scoring 12 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, the University of Notre Dame softball team shut the door on Toledo 17-2 in five innings on Wednesday night at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The 17 runs scored by the No. 21/22 Irish (26-9) tied a Melissa Cook Stadium record, previously established on April 9, 2009 in a 17-9 win over Valparaiso. Notre Dame’s 17 runs, 16 hits (also tied a stadium record) and 13 RBI each set season-highs for the Irish offense.
Senior captain Chloe Saganowich led all Notre Dame players with seven RBI on the day, tying a school record held by Christine Lux (’10) and Meagan Ruthrauff (’06). Sophomore Casey Africano set a career-high with three base hits, adding an RBI and a run scored. Junior All-American Emilee Koerner added two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, while sophomore Carly Piccinich recorded her first career hit at Melissa Cook Stadium, along with her first two career RBI.
Sophomore Allie Rhodes (6-4) went four full innings in the circle, surrendering one earned run and striking out eight Toledo batters on the evening in her first career home victory. Freshman Rachel Nasland pitched a perfect fifth inning in relief, adding one strikeout to the Irish total.
Head coach Deanna Gumpf earned career victory number 534 to pass Paul Mainieri for second place all-time on the Notre Dame baseball and softball wins list. Based on the team’s remaining schedule, the Irish softball team also secured its 26th straight winning season since the program was elevated to varsity status in 1989.
Rhodes motored through the top of the first inning against the Toledo order, striking out the Rocket side. Jessica Lemieux, Alyssa Smith and Lani Ernst all struck out swinging to retire the side.
Junior Jenna Simon picked up the first hit of the ballgame, laying down a perfect infield bunt single. A throwing error on Toledo pitcher Alli Beery (0-4) allowed Simon to advance to second base, and an additional error on right fielder Tasi Docktor enabled Simon to score all the way on the play, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
Toledo (14-28) pushed a run as far as third base with one out in the top of the second, but catcher Cassidy Whidden and third baseman Katey Haus caught Chandler Rice in a rundown between third and home plate, with first baseman Micaela Arizmendi joining in to apply the tag for the out. Rhodes froze Docktor looking for strike three to strand a Rocket runner on base.
Whidden worked a four-pitch walk against Beery in the bottom of the second inning before taking second with a stolen base. Toledo catcher Ernst threw the ball into center field on the play, advancing Whidden to third base. A fielder’s choice RBI grounder from Saganowich allowed Whidden to score from third base, extending the Irish advantage to 2-0. Senior Lauren Stuhr followed with a base hit, and an RBI single from freshman Karley Wester plated Saganowich (3-0) before the inning was over.
Rhodes hung a third zero on the Toledo half in the top of the third, striking out Lemieux swinging to end the frame.
Notre Dame kept the pressure on in the bottom of the third inning against Beery, loading the bases with one out. Saganowich grooved a two-run single into left field, scoring Arizmendi and Whidden to up the Notre Dame lead to 5-0.
Toledo struck with two runs in the top of the fourth inning, as an RBI single by pinch hitter Leigh Nebendahl brought the Rockets with three runs at 5-2. Rhodes responded with consecutive strikeouts to halt the Toledo threat.
The Irish opened the offensive flood gates in the bottom of the fourth inning. A total of 15 Notre Dame batters came to the plate during a 12-run Irish half, which included eight hits. Highlights of the inning included a pair of doubles by Koerner, a two-run triple by sophomore Megan Sorlie, a two-run single by Piccinich, and four RBI for Saganowich to cap Notre Dame’s scoring at 17-2.
Nasland worked a scoreless top of the fifth inning, striking out Allison Beard swinging, popping Mareshah Scott up to third base and inducing a Lemieux ground out back to the circle to close the game.