May 5, 2017
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Digging out of an early 3-0 deficit is never easy, especially in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play. Instead of turning down that challenge on Friday night, the University of Notre Dame softball team passed the test with flying colors. A four-RBI night for Melissa Rochford, and six scoreless innings from Rachel Nasland, served as the Irish catalysts in a 7-3 triumph over Boston College at Melissa Cook Stadium.
How It Happened
Boston College (30-20, 13-8 ACC) struck the first blow of the game in the top of the first inning, as an RBI double and two-run home run quickly made it 3-0 Eagles. Notre Dame starter Rachel Nasland shut the door from that point on, working around a two-out walk to a flyout to Ali Wester in left field for out number three, and the final true Boston College offensive surge of the night.
After Nasland retired Boston College in order in the top of the third and fourth frames, part of a string of 10 straight outs for the Irish right-hander, Notre Dame (31-19, 12-10 ACC) broke through for the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Following a fielder’s choice, Caitlyn Brooks drew a walk that pushed Morgan Reed into scoring position with one out. Melissa Rochford left no doubt one batter later, clubbing a 2-0 pitch deep and gone to center field. Rochford’s fifth home run of the season tied the contest at 3-3.
Kimmy Sullivan reached by way of a fielding error and Katie Marino an infield single to set the table for Sara White to continue the sequence later in the fourth stanza. The inning’s scoring ended with White driving an RBI single up the middle to score Sullivan and vault the Irish ahead 4-3.
Boston College managed to string together back-to-back walks with two outs against Nasland in the top of the fifth, but those would be the final Eagle baserunners of the night. Notre Dame stranded the two Boston College runners aboard after Nasland forced a foulout down the left field line.
The Irish would pad their lead thanks to aggressive baserunning by Ali Wester in the bottom of the fifth inning. A well-hit fly ball to left off the bat of Reed for the second Notre Dame out allowed Wester to cleanly tag up from first base. That move would pay dividends, as an errant throw on a tricky Brooks grounder up the middle brought Wester all the way home from second for the 5-3 Irish lead. Rochford followed by drilling an RBI double to center to plate Brooks, and a second Boston College error in the inning carried Rochford herself across the plate for the 7-3 Notre Dame advantage.
Following a 1-2-3 top of the sixth, Nasland closed the complete game out in the top of the seventh inning. A flyout to Karley Wester in center and two groundouts to the Notre Dame middle infield capped Nasland’s sixth and final shutout frame of the ballgame.
Notre Dame won its ninth straight game against Boston College dating back to the 2005 season, improving to 7-0 against the Eagles in ACC regular season play since 2014 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ The Irish are now 20-1 this season when leading after five innings, and are 22-3 when outhitting the opposition ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Melissa Rochford established a career-high with her fifth home run of the season in the fourth inning, and her double in the fifth tied a single-game best with four runs batted in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Sara White continued her recent hot streak with the go-ahead RBI single in the fourth inning, striking for her seventh RBI in her last seven starts ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Following the two-run home run that gave Boston College a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, Rachel Nasland threw 6.2 innings of one-hit softball, yielding three walks and adding three strikeouts – No Boston College baserunner advanced past second base for the remainder of the game.
Notre Dame and Boston College meet for game two of the three-game ACC set on Saturday. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. (ET) on ACC Network Extra.
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.