Feb. 20, 2015
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – With the offense on the verge of breaking out during each of the first two games of the weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the University of Notre Dame softball team seemed destined for success before long in tournament play.
A total of eight runs on 12 hits later, the Irish rode hot bats and a complete game shutout from sophomore Rachel Nasland to an 8-0 win in six innings over UNLV on Friday during day two of the classic at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
No. 23/24 Notre Dame (7-5) won its second straight game by scoring eight runs and adding 10 or more hits after plating eight on 13 base knocks Thursday against former Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) foe Maryland. The Irish were also one home run from tying a season-high with three big flies, and added a pair of stolen bases.
UNLV (5-6) managed to put a runner on the base paths following a leadoff walk in the top of the first inning before Nasland (2-2) took over in the circle. Swinging strikeouts of Jade Yadao-Valdez and Merina Ili set up a great play at second by senior co-captain Jenna Simon. Simon dove to her left to field a hot shot by Emily Haslinger and record the putout at first base for a big third out.
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester opened the bottom of the first inning with a slap single to second base, later taking second on a stolen base. Senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner cashed in two batters later, crushing a one-out home run deep and gone to center off UNLV starter Fahren Glackin (1-1) to give Notre Dame a quick 2-0 lead. The Irish chased Glackin from the contest when a bases loaded passed ball scored senior Cassidy Whidden from third base (3-0).
Nasland added shutout frames against the UNLV order in the top of the second and third innings. Yadao-Valdez popped out to Notre Dame’s Reed at shortstop with a runner on second and two away in the third to strand a Rebel runner on the base paths.
Junior Megan Sorlie put a charge into a full-count pitch from Cooper in the bottom of the third, crushing a no doubt solo shot over the wall in right center for her first career collegiate home run. Sorlie’s inaugural college long ball upped the Notre Dame lead to 5-0.
UNLV managed a single with two outs off the bat of Francesca Foti in the top of the fourth inning, but Nasland maintained her stronghold in the circle. The Irish right-hander struck out Cooper swinging to hold the Rebels at bay.
Nasland scattered three hits over six innings, walking one and striking out three UNLV batters for her first career shutout.
After a Wester single against UNLV reliever Alex Petrolia in the bottom of the fourth, Koerner made perfect contact on a 1-0 pitch and crushed her second home run of the day well beyond the right field fence. Koerner’s third career two-homer game put Notre Dame firmly in front at 7-0.
Koerner paced all hitters with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, adding four RBI and two runs scored. Sorlie chipped in two hits and an RBI, while Wester picked up two base hits, scored two runs and added a stolen base.
In the process, Wester improved her weekend batting line to a blistering 7-for-10 (.700) with a .750 on-base percentage, three stolen bases and six runs scored.
Three straight infield outs did the deed for the UNLV order in the top of the sixth inning. A ground out and pop out to freshman Sara White at shortstop and a pop fly out to senior Katey Haus at third allowed Nasland to retire to the Rebel side 1-2-3.
Notre Dame put the game away in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Simon reached on a UNLV fielding error, later advancing into scoring position by way of a stolen base. Pinch hitter Kimmy Sullivan came through with an infield single to third base, bringing Simon over to third. Pinch hitter Casey Africano ended the contest with an RBI single into left field, driving in Simon as the winning run (8-0).
The Irish conclude play at the 2015 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Saturday with a pair of games against No. RV/25 Texas (9:30 a.m. PT) and No. 7/8 Georgia (5:30 p.m. PT) at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex. Live stats for both games will be available via 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.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant