March 3, 2018
by Tony Jones
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Following much of the recipe that carried it to a day one sweep at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, the University of Notre Dame softball team remained on the winning trail Saturday. A 10-2 win in five innings over UC Santa Barbara carried the momentum into a 4-1 triumph for the Irish over a game FIU squad at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
No. RV Notre Dame (11-7) out-hit the opposition by an 18-7 count on the day, adding three stolen bases. Melissa Rochford posted four hits, two RBI and two runs scored to power the Irish offense, with Ali Wester also adding four hits, a pair of RBI and two runs of her own. Alexis Bazos and Morgan Reed both chipped in two RBI apiece, while Abby Sweet and Alexis Holloway both hit their first career home runs.
The Irish pitching staff posted a combined 1.17 ERA on the day, allowing a mere two extra-base hits and no walks. The duo of Katie Beriont and Holloway combined to throw 10.2 innings of one-run softball without surrendering a walk, and adding nine strikeouts.
How It Happened
Morgan Ryan looked great out of the blocks in her first career start, retiring the UCSB side in order in the top of the first inning. A fly out to center and groundouts to both second and first base ended the Gaucho ups 1-2-3.
Notre Dame pushed a run across in the bottom of the first off the bat of Abby Sweet. Sweet drove a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left field for her first career home run, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead.
UCSB managed to pull in front 2-1 in the top of the third inning following a sacrifice fly, but Katie Beriont (3-3) entered in relief and got out of the jam with a ground ball back to the circle.
The Irish tied the game in the bottom of the third. Ali Wester led off with a single, took second base by way of a steal and cruised into third following a throwing error. Cait Brooks brought the run home with a sacrifice fly to right field to score Wester and even the score at 2-2.
Notre Dame broke the game open with seven runs in the bottom of the fourth. Morgan Reed drew a bases-loaded walk to push the first run in and make it 3-2 Irish. Wester followed with a two-run single up the middle that plated Alexis Bazos and Ellie Richards (5-2). Reed ultimately came around on a wild pitch for the 6-2 Notre Dame lead, before MK Bonamy added an RBI single and Melissa Rochford a two-run double to push the Irish cushion to 9-2.
Notre Dame put the game away for good in the bottom of the fifth inning. A Sweet infield single moved Wester all the way to third base with one out, after Sarah Genz drew a walk as a pinch hitter and Wester re-entered the game. With Brooks at the plate, a wild pitch to the backstop allowed Wester to score and gave the Irish their eight-run margin of victory.
Following a scoreless first inning, Notre Dame was the first team to attack in the top of the second frame. Katie Marino walked, Melissa Rochford was hit by a pitch and Alexis Holloway walked to load the bases with two outs. Alexis Bazos slapped a single into left center that brought both Marino and Rochford across for the 2-0 Irish lead.
Alexis Holloway (8-4) kept her momentum rolling in the bottom of the second inning. A swinging strikeout, and a lineout and groundout back to the circle kept FIU off the bases.
FIU broke through for its lone run in the bottom of the third. On a two-out fly ball to left field, Cait Brooks made a pinpoint throw from the outfield to gun the runner down at home and end the inning. Until the play was ruled obstruction at the plate, providing the Panthers with a run to claw back into the game at 2-1.
Holloway remained unfazed by the minor rally, clocking her first career home run in the top of the fourth inning on a deep drive to left center. She also picked up two strikeouts each in the fourth and fifth innings to keep Notre Dame ahead 3-1.
Notre Dame continued to chip away at the FIU resolve and was rewarded with an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Morgan Reed delivered a clutch two-out double to the gap in left center, allowing Bazos to come all the way around to score from first and extend the Irish lead to 4-1.
Holloway capped off the complete game in the home half of the seventh with a strikeout, fly out to center and groundout to second base to seal the win.
The Irish close the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic against Robert Morris at 11:30 a.m. (ET) on Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
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, 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.