April 19, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Another Strikeout Cancer weekend is in the books for the University of Notre Dame softball team, and the Irish added their third straight sweep to the record during the special series. A total of 13 hits and a dominant pitching performance from junior Allie Rhodes lifted Notre Dame to a 12-0 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) victory in five innings over Syracuse on Sunday at Melissa Cook Stadium.
No. 25 Notre Dame (37-11, 16-5 ACC) completed its fifth straight conference sweep by taking all three games during Strikeout Cancer weekend against Syracuse (17-25, 1-13 ACC). The Irish have now won 23 consecutive games overall, with 16 of those triumphs coming in ACC play.
Notre Dame claimed a 13-4 edge in the hit column, with five Irish hits going for extra bases on Sunday. Notre Dame hitters also worked a total of five walks during the afternoon, while a pitch hit two batters to allow them to reach.
Rhodes (16-4) worked around a two-out single down the right field line by Syracuse’s Corinne Ozanne in the top of the first inning. Sydney O’Hara lined out to junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi at first one batter later to strand Ozanne on base.
Notre Dame loaded the bases against Syracuse starter Jocelyn Cater (12-16) with two outs in the bottom of the first, but was unable to push a run across. The luck of the Irish took a drastic turn during the next inning.
Freshman Sara White led off the bottom of the second frame reaching on a hit by pitch, moving to second base on a single to left field by junior Megan Sorlie. A sacrifice bunt from senior co-captain Jenna Simon moved the runners into scoring position. Syracuse looked to stall the Notre Dame offensive after catching White in a rundown one batter later but a throw from Orange catcher Julie Wambold carried into right field, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner kept the bottom of the second rolling, grooving a two-run single to right field that scored Sorlie and sophomore All-American and 2015 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Top 26 Finalist Karley Wester (3-0). Senior Katey Haus followed with her second walk of the game to set the table for Arizmendi, whose RBI single through the right side scored Koerner and made it 4-0 Notre Dame. An RBI double from freshman Morgan Reed two batters later capped the five-run Irish inning, bringing Arizmendi across from second base (5-0).
Syracuse pushed a runner as far as third base in the top of the third thanks to a Sammy Fernandez triple to right center, but Rhodes logged a pair of strikeouts and flew Wambold out to right field to keep the Orange from scoring.
Notre Dame broke the game open for good in the bottom of the third inning. Wester legged out an infield single to shortstop to load the bases with nobody out against Syracuse reliever AnnaMarie Gatti. Koerner connected again with a two-run single, driving an 0-2 offering up the middle to score Simon and Sorlie and put Notre Dame in front 7-0. Arizmendi followed with a double right up the middle that got all the way to the center field wall, bringing both Wester and Koerner home (9-0). Reed added her second RBI double of the game against O’Hara after she entered the circle from first base, roping a two-out shot to the left center gap to bring in Arizmendi and open a 10-0 Irish lead.
Syracuse managed two singles against Rhodes in the top of the fourth inning, but the Irish southpaw roared back with swinging strikeouts of O’Hara, Dombrowski and Rachel Burkhardt to fire up the Notre Dame defense and get out of the inning.
Rhodes scattered four hits during her five-inning shutout, walking none while striking out seven Syracuse batters. Rhodes is unbeaten in her last 11 decisions overall in the circle, and logged a perfect 3-0 mark with a 1.11 ERA during the weekend series against the Orange.
Two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning would punctuate the Notre Dame scoring on the day. Junior Casey Africano came through with a two-out single to left field after entering the previous inning as a defensive substitution for Wester. Pinch hitting for Koerner in the two spot, sophomore Kimmy Sullivan crushed a 1-1 pitch from O’Hara deep and gone to center field. Sullivan’s first career home run cleared the bases to extend Notre Dame’s cushion to 12-0.
It was a 1-2-3 inning for Rhodes in the top half of the fifth to nail down the shutout. Pinch hitter Annie Toczynski flew out to left field, Fernandez lined out to Haus at third base and Maddi Doane grounded out unassisted to Arizmendi at first for the game’s final out.
Koerner led all Notre Dame hitters with a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate, adding four RBI and two runs scored. During five Irish wins in the past week, the 2015 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) draft choice batted .688 (11-for-16) with three doubles, one home run, 11 RBI and eight runs scored. Arizmendi added two hits and three RBI, while Reed chipped in two RBI. Koerner, Wester, Arizmendi and Sorlie each scored two runs apiece.
Notre Dame begins its march toward the home stretch of the 2015 regular season by welcoming DePaul on Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET) for a midweek meeting at Melissa Cook Stadium.
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