May 15, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Ball State lived up to its billing as a dynamic offensive team, connecting for a solo home run in the top of the first inning to send an immediate message. The Cardinals would add two runs in the fourth inning and three runs in the fifth inning on their way to a 6-3 win over the University of Notre Dame softball team on Friday in NCAA South Bend Regional play at Melissa Cook Stadium.
No. 21/22 Notre Dame (40-14) will face Northwestern at 3 p.m. on Saturday in the region’s first elimination game. The Wildcats dropped a 5-4 decision to Kentucky in Friday’s first game during a beautiful afternoon session at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Selena Reyna quickly put Ball State (34-23) on the board with a leadoff home run that carried deep and gone over the left field fence in the top of the first inning, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Rachel Nasland (16-8) worked around an additional single by Emily Dabkowski to strike out Loren Cihlar and Jessica Craft swinging to halt the Cardinals threat.
Senior co-captain, two-time All-American and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Year Emilee Koerner legged out a one-out double on a Texas Leaguer that dropped in center field off Ball State starter Nicole Steinbach (19-13) in the bottom of the first inning. After Koerner moved over on a fly ball out by senior Katey Haus, junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi cashed in the RBI chance with a two-out single to right field, plating Koerner from third base to tie the game at 1-1.
It was a three-up, three-down inning for Nasland and the Notre Dame defense in the top of the second. Shelbie Scamihorn grounded out to third, Sammi Cowger struck out swinging and Amanda Arnett flew out to center field to end the frame.
Ball State reclaimed the lead on a two-run home run over the wall in right center by Cowger with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, vaulting the Cardinals in front 3-1. A diving stab in left field one batter later by sophomore All-American Karley Wester robbed Arnett of a base hit and capped the Ball State surge.
Notre Dame threatened with a pair of runners on with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, but a pop out to shortstop stranded both Irish runners and ended the rally attempt.
Ball State kept the offense churning with three runs in the top of the fifth (6-1), but freshman Katie Beriont locked in from there to retire Scamihorn on a ground ball to third for the third and final Cardinal out.
The Irish chipped away at the Ball State lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, after senior co-captain Jenna Simon legged out an infield single and stole second base. Two subsequent Notre Dame outs allowed Simon to score to trim the deficit to 6-2, but Steinbach escaped before further damage ensued.
The Cardinals were able to load the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth trying to increase their lead, but junior Allie Rhodes flew Hanne Stuedemann out to Wester in left field to strand the bases full of Ball State runners.
Notre Dame continued the rally in the bottom of the sixth frame. Arizmendi smacked her team-high 17th double off the wall in right center field to kick the inning into gear, where a sacrifice fly from freshman Morgan Reed two batters later scored pinch runner Carly Piccinich from third to cut the margin to 6-3. Steinbach battled back to strand one Notre Dame runner on the bases and halt the comeback bid once more.
Ball State put the game away in the bottom of the seventh. Simon managed another infield single, but a fielder’s choice erased her at second base one batter later. Koerner chopped into a 6-4-3 double play with the tying run on deck to end the contest.
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