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Early UNC Offense Outlasts Irish In Series Finale

April 9, 2017

by Tony Jones

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A six-run surge out of the gate for visiting North Carolina stood the test against a rallying University of Notre Dame softball team on Sunday. The Irish scored five of the game’s final six runs before ultimately dropping a 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) decision to the Tar Heels at Melissa Cook Stadium. Notre Dame claimed the three-game series by way of a doubleheader sweep on Saturday.

How It Happened

North Carolina (31-11, 10-5 ACC) took an early 2-0 lead with a two-run home run over the wall in right center field in the top of the first inning. A popout to third base ended the initial Tar Heel ups.

Rachel Nasland tossed shutout innings in the second and third before a pair of inherited North Carolina runners scored on an RBI single against Katie Beriont in the top of the fourth inning, pushing the Tar Heels ahead 4-0. A nice play in the field put out the North Carolina batter trying to stretch the play into a double to end the frame.

With North Carolina ahead 6-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Notre Dame (21-15, 8-7 ACC) began to find its offense. Katie Marino led off with a double to right center, and was ultimately brought home on a Maddie McCracken RBI single to trim the Irish deficit to 6-1.

The Tar Heels picked up a key insurance run against Caitlyn Brooks in the circle in the top of the sixth (7-1) before Nasland re-entered the game and stranded three North Carolina runners.

Notre Dame again tried to re-ignite the rally in the bottom of the sixth. Ali Wester led off with a single up the middle, and a Brooks RBI double and two-base North Carolina error suddenly made it a 7-3 ballgame. Doubles for Melissa Rochford and Kimmy Sullivan closed the gap even further to 7-4.

Following a three-up, three-down effort for Nasland in the top of the seventh, Notre Dame would ultimately bring the winning run to the plate with less than two outs in the bottom half. A wild pitch with the bags full plated Karley Wester to cut the North Carolina lead to just two at 7-5. A sharp lineout to third and a testy fielder’s choice ground ball to the same spot allowed North Carolina to work out of the jam.

Up Next

The Irish and Detroit Mercy will collide in a nonconference matchup on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. (ET) at Melissa Cook Stadium. The game will air live on ACC Network Extra.

For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at, and Like the team at


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 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 Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.