April 14, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — In a game that did not lack drama on either side of the diamond, it was the University of Notre Dame softball team that persevered through adversity to capitalize on the scoreboard Tuesday night. A four-run bottom of the third inning and steady pitching throughout carried the Irish to an 8-2 midweek win over Bowling Green on a beautiful night at Melissa Cook Stadium.
No. 25 Notre Dame (33-11), who returned to the national top 25 for the first time since March 10 earlier in the afternoon, extended its current winning streak to 19 games with the victory over Bowling Green (13-20). The win tied the 1996, 1999 and 2005 Irish squads that ran off 19 straight victories in those campaigns, and matched the third-longest winning streak in program history behind the historic 33-game string put together by Notre Dame in 2001.
The Irish earned a 9-6 edge in the hit column against the Falcons on Tuesday, adding an extra base hit and two successful stolen base attempts. Both teams were responsible for two errors in the field each.
Junior Allie Rhodes (13-4) made quick work of the Bowling Green order in the top of the first inning. Molly Holliday grounded out to second base, Marina Cobbs struck out swinging and Aspen Searle flew out to center field to retire the Falcons side 1-2-3.
A double from senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner followed a sophomore All-American and 2015 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Top 26 Finalist Karley Wester leadoff single to get Notre Dame started against Bowling Green starter Briana Combs (3-5) in the bottom of the first inning. An RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi two batters later scored Koerner from third base, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead. Senior Cassidy Whidden immediately followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, plating classmate Katey Haus to up Notre Dame’s advantage to 2-0.
Rhodes worked around a two-out hit by Bowling Green’s Morgan Evangelista in the top of the second, striking out Lauren Newmark on three straight pitches to strand one Falcon runner on the base paths.
It was another three-up, three-down stanza for Rhodes and Notre Dame in the top of the third inning. Katee Hinkle flew out to Koerner in center, Sami Parave struck out swinging and Holliday popped out to Haus at third base.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the third, freshman Morgan Reed connected on an RBI single through the left side, bringing Haus in from third base to up the Notre Dame cushion to 3-0. A wild pitch from Combs then scored Arizmendi (4-0). Junior Casey Africano kept the inning moving with a two-run single through the left side, plating Whidden and Reed to put the Irish in front 6-0.
Two Notre Dame errors allowed the first run for Bowling Green to score in the top of the fourth frame, inching the Falcons within five at 6-1. Evangelista added an RBI single to second base with two outs, pushing the second Bowling Green run across (6-2). Rhodes struck Newmark out swinging to halt the rally.
Rhodes scattered three hits in her four full innings, allowing two unearned runs with no walks. The Notre Dame left-hander struck out five Bowling Green hitters on 49 pitches, and remains unbeaten in her last eight decisions in the circle for the Irish.
Freshman Katie Beriont retired the Bowling Green lineup in order during the top of the fifth inning after entering in relief. Hinkle struck out swinging before Parave and Holliday grounded out to Haus at third base to turn the Falcons away in their half.
Searle reached third base after coming aboard on a fielder’s choice against Beriont in the top of the sixth, but the Notre Dame southpaw battled back with a swinging strikeout of Haley Schrock to strand the Bowling Green runner at third base.
Beriont threw three shutout innings out of the Notre Dame bullpen, allowing no walks and striking out three batters to pick up her first career collegiate save. Beriont, the Irish team leader in overall ERA this season, has allowed only one earned run in her last 13 appearances in the circle (0.28 ERA over her last 24.2 innings pitched).
After senior co-captain Jenna Simon reached by way of an error and stole her 70th career base, becoming just the second player in Notre Dame program history to reach that milestone, Wester legged out an infield single and stole second herself with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Koerner drove both runners in with a two-run single up the chute, pushing the Notre Dame lead back to six at 8-2.
Bowling Green looked to start a rally in the top of the seventh inning, as pinch hitter Marisa Shook singled through the right side and Parave legged out an infield hit to put runners on the corners with two away. Reed made a great play in the 5-6 hole on a sharp grounder by Holliday and made the throw across the diamond to log the final out of the game.
Koerner and Wester led all Notre Dame hitters with 2-for-4 outings at the plate, with Koerner adding a pair of RBI and Wester chipping in her team-high 24th stolen base of 2015. Africano added two runs batted in, while Haus led the way with a pair of runs scored.
Notre Dame returns to Melissa Cook Stadium on Wednesday, hosting Northwestern in midweek action at 6 p.m. (ET). Live coverage will also be available via WatchND.
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.