March 18, 2018
by Tony Jones
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Despite falling behind 2-0 in the first inning of Sunday’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series finale at Louisville, the University of Notre Dame softball team never wavered from the resolve it showed throughout its spring break slate to battle back from adversity. The Irish blitzed the host Cardinals for seven unanswered runs over the final five innings for a 7-2 win to sweep the three-game set from No. RV Louisville at Ulmer Stadium.
Notre Dame (19-8, 4-1 ACC) closed a 7-1 spring break jaunt that began with a two-game split on March 10 at NC State, and included a perfect 6-0 week that featured stops at North Florida for two games on March 13, a game at Jacksonville on March 14, and this weekend’s series at Louisville (20-8, 0-3 ACC). The Irish outscored the Cardinals 20-6 during their three-game stay at Ulmer Stadium, which featured a 17-6 edge in RBI for the visitors.
Sunday’s win over Louisville put the finishing touches on the first three-game sweep of the Cardinals by Notre Dame in series history. The Irish have now won 11 of their last 14 games against the Cardinals dating back to 2013, the best stretch in the series by either team since Notre Dame and Louisville first met in 2002.
Morgan Reed led the way on offense for Notre Dame with a 2-for-4 showing on Sunday, driving in one and scoring a pair of runs. Cait Brooks and Melissa Rochford each chipped in two RBI, while Alexis Bazos and Abby Sweet joined Reed in scoring two runs apiece. Brooks also finished as the top Irish hitter for the series, batting .571 with a home run, four RBI and .636 on-base percentage in her three starts against Louisville.
Alexis Holloway (13-4) was victorious in her eighth straight start (ninth overall decision) after tossing six innings of five-hit softball on Sunday. Holloway walked three and struck out three Louisville batters on the day, yielding the ball to Katie Beriont for a scoreless seventh inning of relief to stymie the Cardinals. The Irish pitching tandem finished the eight-game spring break road trip with a 1.06 ERA and .208 batting average against, with Beriont 3-1 with a 0.97 ERA and Holloway 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA and three saves in the past eight starts for Notre Dame.
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How It Happened
Louisville raced out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run and an RBI triple to right field. Irish starter Alexis Holloway bounced back with a ground ball out to third base and a swinging strikeout to end the frame.
Notre Dame raced back with three runs in the top of the third to take the lead. Alexis Bazos led off with a slap single through the left side, ultimately taking second base following an Ali Wester sacrifice bunt. An Abby Sweet hit by pitch and Morgan Reed single loaded the bases with one out. Cait Brooks grooved a sacrifice fly to straightaway center to allow Bazos to tag up and trim the deficit to 3-1. Melissa Rochford kept the inning alive by slashing a two-run single into center with two away, plating Sweet and Reed for the 3-2 Irish edge.
A double was all that Louisville could manage against Holloway in the bottom of the third inning. A strikeout looking and a groundout back to the circle kept the Cardinals from tying the game. Louisville threatened once more with two on and two outs in the bottom of the fourth, but a slap hitter stepping out of the box was responsible for the inning’s final out.
It was three-up, three-down for the Notre Dame defense in the bottom of the fifth. A pop out to Reed at shortstop, a groundout to short and a line drive catch by Sweet in center field kept the Irish lead at 3-2.
It was more of the same for the Cardinals in the bottom of the sixth inning. A great diving snag at shortstop by Reed erased what looked like a sure Louisville hit into left field with one out. Holloway then jammed the next hitter into grounding out back to the circle to throw up another zero.
Notre Dame broke the game open in the top of the seventh frame. Sara White led off with a pinch-hit walk, and moved to second base on a Bazos single to the wall in left field. Sweet delivered an RBI base hit through the left side two batters later that scored White and extended the Irish lead to 4-2. Reed followed with an RBI single to left that scored Bazos and made it 5-2 Notre Dame. An RBI groundout to shortstop for Brooks and a throwing error with Rochford headed toward first base brought both Sweet and Reed across for the 7-2 advantage.
Katie Beriont threw a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning in relief out of the Notre Dame bullpen. A one-out single was retired on a fielder’s choice ground ball back to Beriont, and a grounder to Reed at shortstop ended the Louisville ups.
The Irish open their 2018 home slate at Melissa Cook Stadium with a 5 p.m. (ET) nonconference showdown on Wednesday against Western Michigan.
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, men’s soccer and swimming and diving 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.