March 5, 2016
by Tony Jones
FORT MYERS, Fla. – A gritty and scrappy top of the seventh inning in the opening game for the University of Notre Dame softball team set the tone for the remainder of the day. A 4-3 comeback win for the Irish over Stony Brook carried through to a 6-1 triumph in the nightcap over Florida Gulf Coast at the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic on Saturday at the FGCU Softball Complex.
No. 21/25 Notre Dame (14-3) extended its current winning streak to 10 games with the day one tournament sweep, outhitting its foes 18-10 with six stolen bases. Irish pitchers limited Stony Brook (5-9) and FGCU (11-7) to a .200 team batting average on the day, adding 18 strikeouts.
Junior co-captain Karley Wester notched a team-high five hits, stole three bases and scored two runs to pace the top of the Notre Dame lineup. Freshman Ali Wester added four RBI and two stolen bases, while sophomore Bailey Bigler scored a team-high three runs.
Sophomore Katie Beriont (3-1) threw five lockdown innings of relief in the win over Stony Brook, allowing one run while scattering four hits and striking out six batters to claim the victory.
Senior Allie Rhodes (6-2) tossed a sterling three-hit complete game in the nightcap against FGCU, walking one and tying a career-high with 10 strikeouts. Rhodes claimed a positive decision (five wins, two saves) in her seventh straight appearance.
Notre Dame continues its Spring Break road trip with two Sunday games at the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic. The Irish and Stony Book collide in a tournament rematch at 10 a.m. (ET) inside the FGCU Softball Complex.
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.
#21 ND 4, Stony Brook 3
Melissa Rochford scraped out a two-out single in the top of the first inning against Stony Brook starter Jane Sallen (4-5). Sallen forced a groundout to second base one batter later to end the frame.
Stony Brook started quickly in the bottom of the first, as Kellie Reynolds singled up the middle off Rachel Nasland. After a pair of fly ball outs the Seawolves loaded the bases with a pair of walks, but Nasland struck out Diane Caruso swinging to end the Stony Brook ups.
The Seawolves took the lead with a clutch two-run double to the left field fence in the bottom of the second inning by Chelsea Evans, scoring Ileana Torres and Danielle Kemp to make it 2-0. Nasland flew Alexandra Piscotta out to right field one batter later to escape the inning.
Notre Dame clawed back into the contest in the top of the third. Bailey Bigler crushed a leadoff triple off the center field fence against Sallen, where Ali Wester slapped an RBI single back to the circle to trim the Irish deficit to 2-1.
Katie Beriont entered for a spotless opening inning of relief in the bottom of the third frame, flying out Melissa Phelan to right field, striking out Irene Rivera and popping Lexie Shue to shortstop for the final out of the Stony Brook half.
The Seawolves struck for an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Torres led off with a single and a stolen base before being driven home by a two-out RBI single off the bat of Evans to make it 3-1 Stony Brook. Beriont struck out Piscotta for the inning’s third and final out.
A Karley Wester bunt single and a Rochford hit by pitch put two runners on in the top of the fifth stanza, but Sallen grounded Caitlyn Brooks out to second base to stall the Irish rally during the inning.
Notre Dame found its offensive groove in the top of the seventh inning to take its first lead of the day. Kimmy Sullivan opened the frame with a pinch-hit single up the middle, and after Bigler reached on a fielder’s choice Karley Wester ripped a one-out double down the right field line. Ali Wester chopped her second infield single of the day right back to Sallen, allowing Bigler to score to trim the deficit to 3-2. Brooks followed with a two-out RBI single up the chute, plating Ali Wester and Rochford to give Notre Dame a 4-3 advantage.
Evans managed a single in the bottom of the seventh to get the Stony Brook offense in motion, but forced a groundout to first and a swinging strikeout to end the ball game.
#21 ND 6, FGCU 1
Co-captain Karley Wester opened the top of the first inning with a four-pitch walk against FGCU starter Riley Randolph (3-2). After a stolen base and a wild pitch, Ali Wester drove the first Irish run home with an RBI ground ball to shortstop to give Notre Dame an early 1-0 lead.
Allie Rhodes found an early rhythm with a 1-2-3 frame in the bottom of the first against the FGCU order. Kelsey Huff struck out swinging, Makensie Mcavoy flew out to center field and Racquel Fournet was put out by a nice play by Morgan Reed at shortstop to retire the Eagles side.
Karley Wester legged out an infield single to the left side with one out in the top of the third inning and moved along to second base on an FGCU throwing error. Melissa Rochford was handcuffed on a two-out fly ball to left field later in the frame, but Eagle left fielder Huff dropped the ball on the run to allow Wester to score and extend the Notre Dame cushion to 2-0.
Bri Innamorato picked up the first FGCU hit of the game in the bottom of the third with a single into left center field. After Rhodes forced a strikeout for the frame’s first out, Micaela Arizmendi stabbed a hard line drive at first base to double off Innamorato on an inning-ending double play.
Bailey Bigler laid down an expertly executed bunt single down the first base line with two outs in the top of the fourth inning. Maddie McCracken crushed a single up the middle, and while caught in a rundown in between first and second Bigler came all the way around to score to push Notre Dame ahead 3-0.
FGCU loaded the bases against Rhodes with nobody out in the bottom of the fourth, as two singles and a full-count walk looked to start the Eagles rally. Louie Ross connected on a sacrifice fly to center to trim the deficit to 3-1, but Rhodes responded with two straight outs to strand two FGCU runners on the pond.
Caitlyn Brooks opened the top of the sixth inning with a bang, sending the first pitch from Randolph screaming over the wall in left center field. Brooks’ third home run of the season upped the Notre Dame lead to 4-1.
Rhodes followed up the offensive jolt with a three-up, three-down frame in the bottom of the sixth inning. Huff struck out swinging, Mcavoy fouled out to third base and Fournet struck out swinging to retire the FGCU side.
Notre Dame chipped in two additional runs in the top of the seventh inning. A bases loaded ground ball to third base by Ali Wester allowed Kimmy Sullivan to come across to score for the 5-1 Irish lead. Rochford followed with a towering sacrifice fly to left, allowing Carly Piccinich to tag up and make it 6-1 Notre Dame.
Rhodes finished off the complete game with a solid bottom of the seventh on the mound. Ross grounded out to first base, Brittany Mcguire struck out swinging and Gabbee Draney popped up to shortstop for the third and final out of the inning.
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.