Photo credit: David Campbell, Alabama State University
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — RV Notre Dame opened the 2021 softball season at Alabama State’s Stinger Classic Saturday with a 1-1 record on the day. First, the Irish blasted to a 9-0 win over North Alabama, and battled with No. 8 Alabama through five innings until the Tide opened it up to end it 0-10.
Junior outfielder Emma Clark wrote her name in the history books against North Alabama, stealing four bases to match a single-game program record. She joined Ruth Kmak as the only two players in Irish history to steal four bases in a game. Kmak’s record came vs. Loyola-Chicago (April 16, 1990). Clark batted 1.000 in her three at-bats, also notching an RBI.
Senior pitcher Alexis Holloway (1-0) earned the complete game shutout of North Alabama, contributing eight strikeouts and giving up just one hit in the game that lasted six innings.
Graduate student infielder Katie Marino and senior outfielder Abby Sweet had productive games in the batter’s box against UNA, as Sweet notched three hits (single, double and triple) and two RBI and Marino’s triple drove in three runs before she scored on an error on the same play.
Against No. 8 Alabama, the Irish held steady within two runs through four innings, but a series of Irish errors in the fifth inning proved costly, as the Tide quickly increased the lead further. Junior pitcher Payton Tidd (0-1) shouldered the loss for the Irish.
Two Irish players, infielder Karina Gaskins and catcher/outfielder Carlli Kloss, made their first-career starts for Notre Dame, seeing their first collegiate game action and each notching their first hits in an Irish uniform.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After a scoreless first inning, Clark began her steal campaign after a leadoff single in the second inning. With Kloss up to bat, Clark stole second. After a Kloss popup, Clark stole third on Holloway’s at-bat, and continued home on a UNA error to score Notre Dame’s first run of the season.
To follow it up, Holloway retired all three batters in the second inning, her first three strikeouts of the day.
Quinn Biggio led off the third inning with a single, and Leea Hanks followed, forcing a UNA error to reach first and advance Biggio to second. Marino notched a sacrifice bunt to advance both one base. Sweet stepped up to the plate and fired a triple to score both Biggio and Hanks, giving the Irish a 3-0 lead, and Clark followed with a single to bring Sweet home. Before the inning was over, Clark stole her third base of the day, and the Irish ended the inning up 4-0.
In the field in the third, Holloway posted another strikeout, as Marino dished the second out to Sarah Genz at first, and Brooke Marquez made a diving catch on an infield popup.
Holloway tacked on three more strikeouts in the fourth and fifth innings combined, and brought the Irish up to bat in the sixth.
Clark again singled to lead off the inning and stole her record-tying fourth base of the day on the next at-bat by Gaskins. Gaskins, on her first collegiate at-bat, then doubled to score Clark. After Macie Eck, batting for Holloway, flew out, Marquez forced a UNA error to take first, advancing Gaskins to third.
Marquez then stole second, bringing the team total on the game to five stolen bases. After a Biggio groundout, Hanks was walked to load the bases. Next up to bat, Marino sent a long triple to score Gaskins, Marquez and Hanks, and due to a UNA error, Marino got home. The Irish ended the inning up 9-0, and made quick work of North Alabama in the bottom half of the inning, as Holloway notched her eighth strikeout and Shelby Grimm caught a UNA runner stealing. Grimm then snagged an infield popup to secure the Irish win, 9-0.
Tidd started in the circle for the Irish, and struck out the first batter. After an Alabama HBP, Kloss, in her first-career start behind the plate, caught the Tide runner stealing for the second out. Tidd tossed another strikeout to end the inning.
The game remained scoreless through the second inning, with no hits recorded by either squad in the second. In the third, Alabama scored its first two runs on four hits, until the Irish got the final out with bases loaded to limit the damage at 0-2. In the bottom of the third, Kloss led off with her first-career hit, a single, before the subsequent three batters were called out.
In the fourth inning, Tidd walked an Alabama batter with one out. On the next play, the Tide singled, and ran to second after an errant throw from third base. While the runner from first advanced to third, the batter was tagged out on the throw to second, leaving a runner on third with two outs. Marquez fielded a grounder to end the inning with no runs scored.
Sweet singled for the Irish in the fourth, but was called out on a subsequent Genz fielder’s choice, and Clark struck out to end the inning.
In the fifth inning, the Tide hit a single, and trapped the Irish in a fielder’s choice in which both runners were safe due to a Notre Dame error. Sweet snagged the first out on a fly ball to CF, and Tidd walked the next batter to load the bases.
On the next fielder’s choice, a run scored due to an Irish throwing error, and Tidd responded by striking out the next batter to make it 3-0 with two outs. On the next at-bat, after a battle at the plate and near strikeout, Alabama doubled to score three RBI. The next batter reached on an Irish error, scoring another Tide run.
Senior pitcher Morgan Ryan entered the circle for Tidd, and recorded a HBP. The runner stole second, and the next Tide batter doubled, scoring both runners, and advancing to third on the third and home on another Irish error. Ryan struck out the final batter to end the inning.
Notre Dame was unable to respond in the bottom of the fifth, and the contest ended in five innings, 0-10.
Notre Dame returns to action Sunday, Feb. 14, to face host Alabama State at 10 a.m. ET. The live broadcast can be accessed at youtube.com/AlabamaStAthletics, and live stats can be found at bamastatesports.com/coverage.aspx. Follow @NDSoftball on Twitter for updates.