Feb. 23, 2017
by Tony Jones
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – The University of Notre Dame softball team opened play on Thursday in a jam packed field at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. During the squad’s first two games of the weekend, the Irish fell to Texas 4-3 before surrendering an 8-0 decision to No. 20/22 Missouri in five innings at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
How It Happened
Texas (8-3) raced out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run home run that soared over the left field fence. Notre Dame starter Rachel Nasland bounced back with three straight swinging strikeouts to end the Texas ups.
Caitlyn Brooks did her part to pull Notre Dame (4-7) back into the ballgame in the top of the second. Brooks crushed a 1-1 pitch from Texas starter Erica Wright deep and gone to left field. Brooks’ third long ball of 2017 trimmed the Irish deficit to 2-1.
A one-out single up the middle by Chelsea Purcell and an infield single for Ali Wester started the Notre Dame offense in the top of the third frame. Melissa Rochford came through with an RBI base knock up the middle one batter later, scoring Purcell to tie the game at 2-2.
Nasland continued her momentum with 1-2-3 outings in the second and third innings against the Texas lineup. A groundout and a pair of fly ball outs in the bottom of the third sat the Longhorns down in order.
Texas connected on its first hit since the first inning with one out to place a pair of runners on the bases in the bottom of the fifth. Nasland forced a pop fly behind the plate for Madison Heide and a ground ball to Morgan Reed at second base to escape the jam.
The Longhorns retook the lead in the home half of the sixth inning after an infield single and Notre Dame fielding error pushed the go-ahead run across at 3-2. Nasland forced a foulout to third base and a line drive back to circle to get out of the Texas half.
Kimmy Sullivan struck for Notre Dame with one out in the top of the seventh, connecting on her first home run to tie the game at three. Sullivan drove a 2-1 pitch over the fence in right center field to level the score.
Texas loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, where an infield single to shortstop brought across the winning run.
A bloop single at the edge of the dirt in the bottom of the first inning provided Missouri (6-2) with its first run and a 1-0 lead. A strikeout and groundout forced by Notre Dame starter Katie Beriont ended the Tiger threat.
Missouri erupted for five runs on five hits in the bottom of the third to open a 6-0 lead, capped off by a two-run home run.
After Notre Dame placed a pair of runners on with nobody out in the top of the fourth, the Missouri defense held firm. Three straight outs left the Irish runners stranded on the bases.
A throwing error and RBI single extended the Missouri advantage to 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Notre Dame attempted to start a rally with a walk and an infield single in the top of the fifth, but a strikeout ended the game.
The Irish resume the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Friday against No. 21/19 Arizona State and No. 11/12 Georgia.
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.