Feb. 21, 2015
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – A three-run top of the fourth inning provided the spark on the offensive end, and a dominant two-hit complete game from sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland carried the University of Notre Dame softball team to a 5-1 win over No. RV/25 Texas on Saturday at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
No. 23/24 Notre Dame (8-5) won its third straight game in Cathedral City, outhitting the Longhorns (9-6) by a final count of 8-2 on the afternoon. The Irish extended their cumulative run advantage over opponents during the tournament to 25-15 over four games, to go along with a 41-20 hits edge.
“Being the third day out the girls are getting tired and the weather is a factor, but I loved the energy they brought out there,” Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “And they competed. I don’t care who our opponent is, if we play like that we can beat anybody.”
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester opened the game with an infield single to the right side, later stealing second base against Texas starter Tiarra Davis (4-2). The next three Notre Dame hitters made solid contact against Davis, including a warning track fly ball from senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner, but Davis and Texas escaped the top of the first inning unharmed.
Nasland (3-2) worked around a lone walk in the bottom of the first to stall the Texas bats. A Lindsey Stephens strikeout and a Holly Kern ground out to third base stranded one Longhorn batter on base.
Senior Katey Haus broke the scoreless tie in the top of the second inning, drilling a 2-1 pitch over the center field fence. Haus’ fourth home run of the season pushed Notre Dame in front 1-0.
Nasland cruised along during the bottom of the second. An Erin Shireman ground out to freshman Morgan Reed at shortstop, a swinging strikeout by Davis and a Marlee Gabaldon fly out to left field retired the Texas side in order.
Haus and junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi each earned one-out walks against Davis in the top of the fourth inning to give the Irish a pair of runners. Junior Casey Africano delivered with a clutch RBI single to right center field, plating Haus to extend the Notre Dame lead to 2-0. Junior Megan Sorlie followed with a single through the right side, driving Africano across from second base to chase Davis from the game (3-0). Reed kept the momentum rolling against reliever Lauren Slatten, lacing an RBI double to left to bring Sorlie in and give the Irish a 4-0 advantage.
“(Getting crucial hits) really helped our offensive confidence,” Gumpf said. “It changes everything when you have the confidence to make big swings. We had two two-out runs as well, so that’s a side of our team that’s getting better.”
Nasland sat the Texas side down in order once again in the bottom of the fourth, grounding Stephanie Wong out to second base, fouling Stephens out behind the plate and recovering from a comebacker up the middle to retire Kern at first for the third out of the frame.
Nasland scattered two Texas hits in her second straight complete game showing, walking two and striking out four Longhorn batters in the victory.
“Rachel had great command of her pitches today, and things were moving,” Gumpf said. “She had such great command that the few times she got behind it wasn’t a big deal. She was able to come back with the pitches she wanted to throw, we didn’t have to change the game plan because the things we needed to be working kept working.”
It was more of the same for Nasland and the Notre Dame defense against Texas order in the bottom of the fifth inning. Shireman popped up to shortstop before Davis and Gabaldon struck out swinging to keep the Longhorns off the board.
Haus led off the top of the sixth inning with a single to right, and pinch runner Carly Piccinich moved over to second base on an Arizmendi grounder. Piccinich then stole third base cleanly before coming in to score on a Slatten wild pitch, adding to the Notre Dame run total (5-0).
Texas logged its first hit of the afternoon in the bottom of the sixth on a single to left field by Kelli Hanzel. Gabby Smith made the most of the RBI chance with a seeing-eye single up the middle two batters later, scoring Hanzel to trim the Notre Dame lead to 5-1. A pop out to Reed at short and a great stab on a line drive by Arizmendi at first base cooled down the Longhorn momentum.
“Defensively we were great,” Gumpf said. “We made big plays when we needed to. That last line drive was huge.”
Kern opened the bottom of the seventh inning by drawing a four-pitch walk. Shireman promptly lined out to Haus at third, starting a 5-3 double play. Nasland forced pinch hitter Mickenzi Krpec to pop out to senior Cassidy Whidden behind the plate to end the game.
Notre Dame plays its final game of the 2015 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at 5:30 p.m. (PT) Saturday against No. 7/8 Georgia. Live stats will be available via CBS Gametracker on UND.com.
“We’re just going to pretend like tonight is a brand new day,” Gumpf said. “In my mind tonight is a different day. It’s day four.”
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