March 16, 2018
by Tony Jones
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A balanced offensive attack from the University of Notre Dame softball team got a weekend Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series at Louisville off on the right foot. The Irish hammered 11 hits as a team, including six base knocks in a six-run top of the third inning, to earn a 10-3 win over the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Ulmer Stadium.
Notre Dame (17-8, 2-1 ACC) scored six in the third, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and one run in the sixth inning to overpower the host Louisville (20-6, 0-1 ACC) in the opening contest of a three-game conference series. Each starting Irish player reached base safely at least once on the day, with eight of the nine Notre Dame starters scoring at least one run against the Louisville pitching staff.
Cait Brooks reached base safely in each of her four plate appearances, batting 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBI and a pair of walks to lead the Notre Dame offense. Abby Sweet, Katie Marino and MK Bonamy each chipped in two RBI to help power the Irish attack, while Ali Wester added two hits and a run scored.
Alexis Holloway (12-4) won her seventh straight start in the circle for Notre Dame, and remained unbeaten in her last eight decisions overall after throwing a complete game on Friday against Louisville. The reigning ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week limited the Cardinals to seven hits, walking four and striking out two on the afternoon.
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.
How It Happened
After both teams left a number of runners aboard over the first two innings with no score to show for it, Notre Dame broke the game open in the top of the third. Ali Wester connected on a leadoff double to left field to get thing started, ultimately scoring on an RBI single into the corner in left by Abby Sweet for the 1-0 Irish lead. A Cait Brooks single and a Melissa Rochford hit by pitch loaded the bases with one out. Katie Marino kept the inning rolling with an RBI single to right field that scored Sweet (2-0), and MK Bonamy ripped a two-run single through the left side to plate pinch runner Ellie Richards and Rochford for the 4-0 Notre Dame advantage. An RBI single to center for Madison Heide to plate Marino, and a double-steal that sent Heide to second and Bonamy home, capped the inning’s scoring at 6-0.
Notre Dame continued to pile on the offense in the top of the fourth inning. Morgan Reed was hit by a pitch with one out to set the table for Brooks. For the second straight game at Ulmer Stadium, dating back to last season’s series finale with Louisville, Brooks uncorked a mammoth home run over the road beyond the fence in left field. Brooks’ fourth long ball of the year put the Irish firmly in control at 8-0.
Louisville began to claw back in the bottom of the fourth, connecting on a two-out double with the bases loaded to trim the deficit to just 8-3. Notre Dame starter Alexis Holloway quickly bounced back and forced a swinging strikeout to escape the would-be jam.
Notre Dame would tack on an insurance run in the top of the fifth stanza. Heide led off with a sharp double down the line in left, and moved into scoring position after a single to center by Wester. Sweet brought Heide in with a deep sacrifice fly to left, pushing the Irish edge to 9-3.
An additional run would be pushed across by Notre Dame in the top of the sixth. Reed led off with an infield single to shortstop, and advanced to second as Brooks was walked. A Rochford sacrifice bunt moved the runners along, and Marino skied a sacrifice fly to straightaway center to allow Reed to tag up and come in to score for the 10-3 Notre Dame lead.
Holloway sat the Cardinals down in order in the bottom of the sixth inning with a fly ball out to center and a pair of groundouts on the infield. Louisville made a pair of quick outs with a line drive back to Holloway and a fly out to Alexis Bazos in right field in the bottom of the seventh before managing a two-out infield single. A deep fly ball to center field was hauled in by a charging Sweet on the run for the game’s final out.
The Irish and Louisville square off in game two of the three-game ACC series on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET) at Ulmer Stadium.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director 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, men’s soccer and swimming and diving 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 Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.