Feb. 12, 2016
by Tony Jones
TEMPE, Ariz. — Facing a pair of foes also ranked in the national top 25 polls on its first official day of the 2016 season, the University of Notre Dame softball team defeated No. RV/23 Utah 2-1 in eight innings before falling to No. 18 Kentucky 10-7 on Friday during the Kajikawa Classic on field four of the Tempe Sports Complex.
The No. 24/RV Irish (1-1) clawed out 14 hits, including three for extra bases, and added three stolen bases on the tournament’s first day. Freshman Caitlyn Brooks went 3-for-4 with an RBI double and a three-run home run during the game against Kentucky, while junior co-captain Karley Wester finished the day with four hits, including a double, two stolen bases and three runs scored. Senior Micaela Arizmendi chipped in three combined hits and four RBI.
Senior Allie Rhodes threw seven innings of one-run softball against Utah (0-1), scattering four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in a no-decision against the Utes. Brooks allowed one earned run in 3.2 innings of relief, punching out three Kentucky (1-0) batters in the late game.
Notre Dame resumes play on Saturday at the Kajikawa Classic, with two games scheduled to be played at the Tempe Sports Complex. The Irish and BYU collide at 1:30 p.m. (ET) before Notre Dame and No. 21/22 California close the day at 4 p.m. on field 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.
#24/RV ND 2, #RV/23 Utah 1 (8)
A leadoff single by Utah’s Delilah Pacheco looked to start the Utah offense in the top of the first, but Allie Rhodes settled in from there. A swinging strikeout of Bridget Castro stranded two Ute runners on base.
Notre Dame struck first in the bottom of the first inning. Co-captain Karley Wester singled off Utah pitcher Katie Donovan (0-1), and then cleanly swiped second base with a steal. A hard ground ball by Ali Wester was thrown away by Utah third baseman Kristen Stewart, allowing the runner to score from second to put the Irish in front 1-0.
It was a 1-2-3 inning for Rhodes in the top of the second frame. A diving stab by Ali Wester in left field robbed Stewart of a base knock, and Rhodes then struck out Bella Secaira swinging on a 2-2 delivery. Melissa Rochford ended the Ute ups by snagging a deflected foul out off the glove of catcher Maddie McCracken for the third and final out.
A looping double down the right field line by Anissa Urtez in the top of the third inning scored Pacheco from second base, tying the score at 1-1. Rhodes grounded out Ally Dickman to second to strand Urtez at second base.
McCracken delivered her first collegiate hit with a solid single in the bottom of the fourth inning. Pinch runner Bailey Bigler reached third base, but Donovan and the Utah defense held Bigler on the base paths to keep the game tied at 1-1.
Karley Wester notched her third hit of the day to lead off the home half of the fifth, lacing a single over the head of Donovan. Wester would reach third herself after crafty base running, but Donovan would end the Notre Dame frame with a strikeout.
Rhodes continued her solid outing in the top of the sixth inning. Strikeouts of Urtez and Heather Bowen looking and a Castro fly out to right field hung another zero in the Utah run column.
Rhodes added a pair of strikeouts to her game total in the top of the seventh. A swinging chase by Shelby Pacheco on a full-count pitch stalled the Utah offense yet again.
Notre Dame had a chance to win the game in regulation innings after Rochford was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. A pair of Irish groundouts left the winning run standing at second base.
Rachel Nasland (1-0) appeared in relief to open the top of the eighth frame with the international tiebreaker in effect. McCracken made a great recovery while fielding a pitch and threw out Sammy Cordova streaking for third base for a huge first out. Nasland struck out Dickman looking, and battled around two Utah singles to close the inning tied 1-1.
A perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Morgan Reed with Ali Wester placed at second moved the winning run to third in the bottom of the eighth inning. Micaela Arizmendi ripped her second single of the game through the heart of the Utah defense to score Wester and give Notre Dame the walk-off victory.
#18 Kentucky 10, #24/RV ND 7
Back-to-back errors allowed Karley Wester and Ali Wester to reach base against Kentucky starter Meagan Prince (1-0). A perfect sacrifice bunt by Morgan Reed moved both runners into scoring position, where Micaela Arizmendi scored both with an RBI single up the middle. The two-run base knock made it 2-0 Notre Dame.
Kentucky quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, where a Notre Dame fielding error trimmed the deficit to 2-1. A sacrifice fly from Ansley Smith plated Katie Reed and tied the game at 2-2. Katie Beriont (0-1) forged ahead and forced consecutive fly ball outs to strand the bases loaded with Wildcats and keep the score tied at 2-2.
Melissa Rochford picked up her first career hit to lead off the top of the second inning, lacing a single to left field. A sacrifice bunt and groundout moved Rochford into scoring position at third base, but Prince closed out the Irish order with a two-out strikeout to hold the runner on base.
Beriont settled in against the Kentucky lineup in the bottom of the second. Sylver Samuel grounded out to Reed at shortstop, Maisie Steed flew out to center field and Nikki Sagerman grounded out to Rochford at third base to strand Katie Reed on first.
Brooklin Hinz put the Wildcats in front with a one-out, three-run home run over the fence in left center field, giving Kentucky its first lead at 5-2. The Wildcats tacked on two more runs thanks to a bases-loaded walk and single with one out later in the frame, but Ali Wester made a great throw from left field to put out Steed at home. A wild pitch allowed the sixth Wildcat run of the third inning to score, pushing Kentucky out front 8-2.
Caitlyn Brooks worked a scoreless bottom of the fourth inning to hold Kentucky at bay. Jenny Schaper struck out looking, and Sarah Rainwater grounded out to Reed at shortstop for the final out.
Notre Dame started a rally in the top of the fifth. A double from Karley Wester and a single by Ali Wester put two on for Reed, who drew a hit by pitch to load the bases. Arizmendi connected on a sacrifice fly that brought one run across, cutting the gap to 8-3. Brooks followed with an RBI double down the right field line, bringing home Ali Wester and further trimming the Kentucky lead to 8-4.
After the Wildcats added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning (10-4), Notre Dame refused to go away quietly. After Reed and Arizmendi each drew a walk against Kentucky reliever Shannon Smith, Brooks deposited her first career home run over the center field wall to narrow the gap to 10-7. Rochford drew a walk to keep the rally in motion, but a pair of infield fly ball outs ended the contest.
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.