March 7, 2015
RALEIGH, N.C. – A pair of first inning leads did not materialize for the University of Notre Dame softball team during its Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opening series at No. North Carolina State on Saturday. The Wolfpack outlasted the Irish 4-2 in game one before completing the sweep with a 9-2 decision in the nightcap at Dail Softball Stadium.
No. 22/23 Notre Dame (12-8) was led offensively by sophomore All-American Karley Wester, who finished the twin bill a combined 4-for-6 (.667) with a double, stolen base and two runs scored. Wester also drew a walk to push her on-base percentage to .714 for the doubleheader. Junior Casey Africano added a solo home run during game two as part of a two-hit day at the plate.
Sophomore Rachel Nasland (5-4) took the loss in game one despite tying a career-high with 10 strikeouts North Carolina State (9-7) hitters. Nasland allowed four hits and walked three Wolfpack batters in a complete game effort. Junior Allie Rhodes (5-3) scattered seven hits in 5.2 innings of action in the nightcap to take the loss.
The final game of the three-game ACC series between Notre Dame and North Carolina State is scheduled for a noon (ET) first pitch on Sunday at the Dail Softball Stadium. Live stats 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 1 – No. RV North Carolina State 4, No. 22/23 Notre Dame 2
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester opened the top of the first inning with a four-pitch walk against North Carolina State starter Emily Weiman (5-5). Senior co-captain Jenna Simon then reached on a Wolfpack throwing error that moved Wester over to third base. Following a Simon stolen base, a second North Carolina State error with two outs on a grounder from junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi cleared the bases, giving Notre Dame a 2-0 advantage.
The Wolfpack tied the game in the bottom half of the first. Lana Van Dyken worked a full-count walk with one away, and Molly Hutchison golfed a deep home run over the left field wall to square the score at 2-2. Sophomore starter Rachel Nasland settled in from there, striking out Tyler Ross swinging before forcing a Maggie Hawkins pop out to Simon at second base.
Nasland picked up steam in the bottom of the second inning, striking Meredith Burroughs, Hannah Yeager and Morgan Medford out in order to stall the North Carolina State order.
A Wester double and North Carolina State error got the Irish in business in the top of the third, but Weiman bounced back with a pair of strikeouts, with Wester being doubled off trying to score after strike three to senior Katey Haus was low and in the dirt and the put out was needed at first base.
Nasland rolled through the fourth and fifth inning, striking out a total of four North Carolina State hitters over both frames. She froze Alyssa Compton looking and got Van Dyken swinging in the fifth to stall the Wolfpack offensive.
Haus broke through with a sharp two-out single up the middle off Weiman in the top of the sixth inning, but Weiman came back with a strikeout looking of Arizmendi one batter later to halt the Notre Dame rally.
Hutchison took her second pitch deep on the afternoon in the bottom half of the sixth inning, grooving a 0-2 offering over the center field wall to put North Carolina State in front 3-2. Tyler Ross followed with a line drive blast over the right field wall one pitch later, pushing the Wolfpack to a 4-2 cushion.
Game 2 – No. RV North Carolina State 9, No. 22/23 Notre Dame 2
For the second straight game sophomore All-American Karley Wester reached in her first plate appearance, singling to shortstop against North Carolina State starter Courtney Mirabella (4-2). A Wester stolen base slid her into scoring position, where senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner slapped a sharp single fair down the right field line, plating Wester to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
The Wolfpack answered in the bottom of the first inning, as a looping single to right field from Maggie Hawkins plated Molly Hutchison to tie the game at 1-1. Junior Allie Rhodes threw a vicious breaking ball in the dirt to get Meredith Burroughs chasing strike three, stranding two North Carolina State runners on the base paths.
A leadoff single for Hannah Yeager looked to spark the Wolfpack offense in the bottom of the second frame, but Rhodes proceeded to retire the remainder of the North Carolina State side in order. Morgan Tharrington struck out and Alyssa Compton and Renada Davis flew out consecutively for the final outs.
Wester laid down a perfect bunt for a hit in the third inning, and advanced to second base when no North Carolina State fielder was covering second. A Wolfpack error got Wester as far as third base, but Miraballa forced Koerner to fly out to left field to stand Wester on the pond.
Hawkins came back with a two-run single in the bottom of the third, scoring Lana Van Dyken and Hutchison on the base knock to push North Carolina State in front 3-1. A Notre Dame fielding error allowed the inning to continue, scoring Hawkins (4-1).
Van Dyken connected on a full-count offering in the bottom of the fourth, sending a screaming opposite field shot over the left center field fence to add the fifth Wolfpack run of the day (5-1). Rhodes induced a Hutchison ground out to second base to close the inning.
Junior Casey Africano began chipping away at the Wolfpack lead in the top of the fifth inning, clubbing a solo home run deep and gone to left field against Mirabella to trim the deficit to 5-2.
Rhodes motored through the Wolfpack order in the bottom of the fifth. A pair of ground outs to second and a strikeout swinging allowed the Notre Dame southpaw to hang a zero in the North Carolina State inning.
North Carolina State added four insurance runs during the bottom half of the sixth inning to extend its lead to 9-2. Freshman Katie Beriont entered in relief and struck out Burroughs looking for the inning’s final out.