Feb. 13, 2016
by Tony Jones
TEMPE, Ariz. – A pair of walk-off hits led to results in each game for the University of Notre Dame softball team on day two of the Kajikawa Classic Saturday at the Tempe Sports Complex. The Irish were the beneficiaries of a game-winning two-run home run by Micaela Arizmendi to down BYU 4-2 in the day’s opener, only to fall on a seventh-inning single to #21/22 California 8-7 in the nightcap.
Freshman Melissa Rochford enjoyed a standout day at the plate, finishing a combined 3-for-4 with a double, home run, three RBI and three runs scored. Classmate Ali Wester added a pair of hits, an RBI and two runs scored, and junior co-captain Karley Wester chipped in three hits.
Making her first career start in the circle against BYU, freshman pitcher Caitlyn Brooks allowed two earned runs in 3.2 effective innings. Junior Rachel Nasland (2-0) shined in relief, throwing 4.1 frames of perfect softball with five strikeouts to earn her second victory of the season.
No. 24/RV Notre Dame (2-2) closes play at the 2016 Kajikawa Classic with an 11 a.m. (ET) start against Georgia State on Sunday at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.
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.
#24/RV ND 4, BYU 2 (8)
BYU leadoff batter Gordy Bravo began the game with a single to left field off Caitlyn Brooks, but Brooks settled in from there. Three straight ground ball outs to Melissa Rochford at third base stranded the runner at second in the top of the first inning.
Co-captain Karley Wester opened the bottom of the Notre Dame first with a single back to pitcher McKenna Bull (3-2), but Bull quickly regained command. Three straight outs left Wester stalled at third base.
BYU (3-2) pushed the first run across in the top of the second inning. A sacrifice fly to left field scored Ashley Thompson, but a great relay throw from Bailey Bigler to Casey Africano to Rochford resulted in an inning-ending double play. After BYU notched a leadoff single in the top of the third, Brooks induced three straight ground ball outs to escape the frame.
Notre Dame tied the contest in the bottom of the third. After Rochford drew a one-out walk, Karley Wester located a great slap single to place a pair of runners on. A deep fly ball to the track off the bat of Ali Wester was caught by BYU center fielder Bravo, but an error on the ensuing relay throw allowed Rochford to tag up from second base and tie the game at 1-1.
BYU reclaimed the lead during the top of the fourth inning. An RBI base hit by Madison Merrell scored Emilee Erickson to chase Brooks from the game at 2-1. Rachel Nasland (2-0) needed just three pitches to fly Mckenzie St. Clair out to left field, leaving a pair of Cougar runners on base.
Nasland found her groove returning for her second inning of work in the top of the fifth frame. Bravo, Lauren Bell and Lexi Tarrow each struck out swinging to retire the BYU side.
A perfect bunt single from Bigler and a deep double to left center off the bat of Rochford looked as if it would tie the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, but Bigler was retired after losing her footing rounding third. Bull sat down the following two Notre Dame hitters to maintain BYU’s 2-1 lead.
Morgan Reed picked an opportune time to connect on her first hit of the 2016 season. Reed sent a 2-1 Bull pitch over the right field fence to lead off the bottom of the sixth, tying the game at 2-2 with the solo home run.
Nasland strung together strong seventh and eighth innings on the mound, including stranding the placed runner during the international tiebreaker in the top of the eighth, to hold BYU off. A Tarrow foul out to third base gave Notre Dame a chance at the victory in the bottom of the inning.
With Ali Wester placed on second and one out, Micaela Arizmendi saw one pitch before blasting her first home run of the season well over the fence in right field. Arizmendi’s 29th career home run was her second walk-off hit in as many days and secured the Irish win.
#21/22 California 8, #24/RV ND 7
Ali Wester roped a top of the first inning single up the middle off Cal pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch, and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Caitlyn Brooks drew a walk on a pitch in the dirt, but Wester was put out at third looking to advance. Sutherland-Finch notched a two-out strikeout to end the frame.
Allie Rhodes (0-1) pitched a solid bottom of the first inning against the California (1-1) order. Jazmyn Jackson grounded out to second base, Lindsay Rood grounded out to third base and Kristen McCue grounded out back to Rhodes in the circle to complete the 1-2-3 frame.
Rhodes picked up a pair of quick strikeouts of Kobie Pettis and Annie Aldrete in the bottom of the second, but the Golden Bears rallied to load the bases with two outs in the frame. A fielder’s choice groundout to Morgan Reed at shortstop ended the California threat.
Rhodes went back to work in the home half of the third inning, adding strikeouts of Jackson and McCue to her game total. McCue’s swinging strikeout was the final out for the Notre Dame defense in the inning.
Notre Dame got the offense kicked into gear during the top of the fourth inning. Micaela Arizmendi reached on a one-out fielding error, and Maddie McCracken moved Arizmendi to third two batters later with a double to the gap in right center field. Melissa Rochford made the opportunity count, blasting her first career home run deep and gone to left center to put the Irish in front 3-0.
Bailey Bigler made a terrific running, diving catch at the foul line in left during the bottom of the fourth to rob Aldrete of sure extra bases. Kylie Reed grounded out to Arizmendi one batter later to get Rhodes through another frame with a zero in the California scoreboard.
Rhodes added a strong inning in the bottom of the fifth frame. Strikeouts of Taylor Koenig and Taurie Pogue and a ground out to shortstop by Danika Bailey retired the California side in order.
Notre Dame broke the offense open in the top of the seventh inning. Rochford drew a leadoff walk before advancing to second due to an illegal pitch. Megan Sorlie connected on an RBI double two batters later to score Rochford and make it 4-0 Notre Dame. Karley Wester followed with a double to left center, and Ali Wester added an RBI single to push the Irish in front 6-0. Brooks followed with an RBI single to close the four-run top of the seventh 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.