March 11, 2017
by Tony Jones
ATLANTA – Late leads did not stand the test of time for the University of Notre Dame softball team on Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets found two late-inning rallies in downing the Irish 8-7 and 9-8 in nine innings to take the opening Notre Dame conference series of the year at Mewborn Field.
How It Happened
Notre Dame (10-10, 0-2 ACC) wasted zero time making an offensive impact in the top of the first inning. Facing a 3-1 count, Irish leadoff hitter Karley Wester sent a moon shot to straightaway center field off Georgia Tech starter Emily Anderson. Wester’s first home run of 2017 made it 1-0 Notre Dame. After loading the bases with one out, the Irish added an insurance run on an RBI single to left off the bat of Kimmy Sullivan, bringing home Morgan Reed for the 2-0 Notre Dame lead.
Georgia Tech (8-14, 2-3 ACC) answered with a solo home run and added a run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 2-2. Rachel Nasland forced a strikeout looking with two outs and a runner on third to stall the Yellow Jacket offense.
Georgia Tech added a pair of runs in the bottom of the second stanza on a triple to right field and a sacrifice fly to take a 4-2 lead.
Following a scoreless inning of relief for Katie Beriont in the bottom of the third inning, Notre Dame responded with two runs in the top of the fourth to re-tie the game. Back-to-back singles from Karley Wester and Ali Wester put a pair in scoring position, where an RBI single smashed into right field by Reed cleared the bases and squared the score.
An Ali Wester single up the middle and a deep single off the wall in center by Reed started the top of the Notre Dame sixth, and a Caitlyn Brooks walk loaded the bases with one out. Melissa Rochford ripped a 1-0 pitch into left field one batter later to clear the pond and vault the Irish back in front at 6-4.
Georgia Tech tied the game at 6-6 with two runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. After the teams traded runs in the eighth, the Yellow Jackets won with a walk-off solo home run in the ninth.
Notre Dame’s Karley Wester started the Irish offense in high gear to begin the top of the first inning. After being hit by the first pitch of the game, Wester cleanly stole second and third base to move into scoring position. Wester came home to score on a Georgia Tech fielding error for the 1-0 Notre Dame lead.
The Irish broke the offense open in the top of the second inning. Following two walks to open the inning, Karley Wester reached by way of an infield single with two outs. Ali Wester followed with an RBI single to center to score Sara White and put Notre Dame ahead 2-0. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Morgan Reed allowed Karley Wester to score from second base (3-0). Melissa Rochford followed two batters later with a two-run single to right, and a Georgia Tech error brought Caitlyn Brooks in for the 6-0 Irish edge.
A Notre Dame wild pitch with runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second stanza allowed Georgia Tech to clip the Irish lead to 6-1. Brooks induced a groundout to second base against the subsequent batter to leave two Yellow Jacket runners aboard.
Georgia Tech answered with four runs over the next two innings, including a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth frame, to make it 6-5. A groundout to second base got Brooks out of the jam.
After Notre Dame claimed a 7-5 lead after the top of the sixth inning, Georgia Tech scored four of the final five runs in the game to walk-off in the bottom of the ninth once more.
The Irish close their series with Georgia Tech on Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET) in Atlanta, with first pitch moved back due to expected inclement weather in the area.
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.
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.