April 14, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team earned its third BIG EAST Conference sweep of the season Sunday with a 5-1 and 8-6 victory over Rutgers at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The Irish (29-10, 10-1 BIG EAST) took the nightcap after a seven-run bottom of the seventh inning erased a 6-1 deficit. Catcher Cassidy Whidden hit her second home run in as many days for the game-winning tally, capping one of the greatest comebacks in program history.
Laura Winter (18-8) was masterful in the circle, allowing a combined three runs in 10 innings of work, walking none and striking out 12 Rutgers batters. Winter added a clutch leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning of game two to kick start the Notre Dame rally.
Kelsey Thornton paced the Irish attack with four base hits on the day, while Micaela Arizmendi added a solo home run and scored a team-high four runs. Whidden, Chloe Saganowich and Casey Africano shared the Notre Dame RBI lead with three each.
The Irish travel to East Lansing, Mich. for a midweek contest with Michigan State Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Chloe Saganowich ripped a two-run single off Rutgers pitcher Abbey Houston (2-4) in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring Laura Winter and Casey Africano to bring the Irish within three runs at 6-3. An RBI single by Kelsey Thornton two batters later scored pinch runner Monica Torres to cut the margin to 6-4. An Emilee Koerner seeing-eye single up the middle scored Micaela Arizmendi to trim the deficit to just one run at 6-5. Facing a 0-2 count against Alyssa Landrith with runners at first and second, Cassidy Whidden ripped a walk-off three run blast over the left center field wall to complete the thrilling comeback.
Saganowich made a great play in the field with two runners aboard in the top of the second inning, snagging an Ashley Alden grounder and turning an unassisted double play to keep Rutgers (23-18, 6-8 BIG EAST) off the scoreboard.
Saganowich helped her own cause in the home half of the second, lacing a two-out RBI single through the left side to score Whidden from second base, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Rutgers answered in the top of the third inning, as a Loren Williams RBI double off Brittany O’Donnell scored Kaci Madden from second base to tie the game at 1-1. A Chandler Howard single up the middle scored Williams to give the Scarlet Knights a 2-1 lead.
Alexis Durando blasted a two-run home run over the center field fence in the top of the fifth inning to give Rutgers a 6-1 lead. Winter retired the next two Scarlet Knight hitters to halt the visitors’ momentum.
Laura Winter posted her second straight scoreless frame in the top of the second inning, striking out Jennifer Harabedian swinging and Ashley Alden looking.
Casey Africano hit her second home run in as many at-bats in the bottom of the second, sending a 3-2 Alyssa Landrith (13-10) offering into the left field bleachers for a two-run shot that upped the Notre Dame lead to 3-0.
Winter kept the momentum rolling in the top of the third inning, punching out Kaci Madden and Loren Williams swinging to maintain Notre Dame’s 3-0 advantage.
After Micaela Arizmendi reached on a two-out fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third, Africano kept her hot weekend going with an RBI double to the gap in right center, extending the Irish cushion to 4-0.
Notre Dame showed off its gloves in the top of the fourth inning, as a Jackie Bates grounder back to Winter in the circle started a 1-6-3 double play. Alexis Durando grounded out to third base to end the Scarlet Knight half of the inning.
Arizmendi drilled the first pitch she saw from Landrith over the wall in left center field in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the solo home run put Notre Dame in front 5-0.
Bates turned on the first pitch she saw from Winter in the top of the sixth and clipped the top of the center field wall, scoring Chandler Howard from second base on the RBI double (5-1).