NOTRE DAME, Ind. — University of Notre Dame senior Cait Brooks belted her ACC-best 20th home run and freshman Emma Clark added a three-run triple as the Irish held off Georgia Tech, 6-4, Sunday afternoon at Melissa Cook Stadium.
It was the ninth straight win for the Irish (35-15, 18-6 ACC), who enter next week’s 2019 ACC Tournament as the third seed. Notre Dame will play sixth-seeded Duke.
Brooks, who homered twice and drove in six in the series with Georgia Tech, moved into a tie for second place on Notre Dame’s all-time home run list. She has 48 career round trippers, which equals Dani Miller’s (2009-12) total. Brooks is just two home runs shy of the school record, which is 50 held by Christine Lux (2007-10).
Brooks went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.
Junior Katie Marino, senior Melissa Rochford and Clark each picked up a pair of hits.
Clark went 2-for-3 and added critical insurance with a three-run triple in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Payton Tidd (24-7) allowed four runs, only two of which were earned, over 6.0 innings. She worked around four hits and a career-high seven walks. Tidd’s 24 victories this season are the third-most of any freshman in the NCAA this season.
Alexis Holloway tossed a scoreless inning of relief to secure her fourth save of the season.
Bottom 1 | The Irish jumped out to an early lead for the third consecutive day. Marino laced a one-out single to left field. After a passed ball and wild pitch allowed Marino to reach third, Rochford roped an RBI single to left centerfield.
Top 3 | Tidd worked around a pair of walks in the third inning. With runners on first and second, Tidd got Tricia Awald to strikeout looking to end the scoring threat.
Bottom 3 | Similar to the bottom of the first inning, Marino got the rally going with a one-out single to left field. Brooks followed with a mammoth two-run home run to straight-away centerfield that extended the Notre Dame lead to 3-0.
Top 4 | Cameron Stanford finally got Georgia Tech on the scoreboard. She hit a one-out solo home run to left field to bring the Jackets within two runs, 3-1.
Top 5 | Georgia Tech threatened again in its half of the fifth. Rebecca Prairie reached base on an error to open the frame. Breanna Roper followed with a walk and Bailee Zeitler loaded the bases with a bloop single to right field. Katie Krzus brought Georgia Tech within a run, 3-2, with a sacrifice fly, but Tidd escaped further damage thanks to a stellar 6-4-3 inning-ending, twin-killing.
Bottom 5 | Notre Dame answered with three runs in its half of the fifth. Rochford opened the inning with a double off the top of the fence in left centerfield — missing out on a home run by mere inches. After Abby Sweet was plunked and MK Bonamy flied out, Sarah Genz laced a pinch-hit single right back up the middle to load the bases. Clark would deliver a clutch two-out, three-run triple to give the Irish a 6-2 lead.
Top 6 | The Yellow Jackets responded with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning. Back-to-back, two-out singles from Puckett and Prairie, and an Irish throwing error, allowed Georgia Tech to draw within two runs, 6-4.
Top 7 | Holloway worked out of a jam, thanks to a couple walks, in the bottom of the seventh. The Jackets brought the winning run to the plate, with the tying run on base, but Holloway got Stanford to ground out to end the game.
Notre Dame turns its attention to the upcoming 2019 ACC Softball Championship (May 8-11) in Tallahassee, Florida. The Irish are the No. 3 seed and will play their first game on Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. against No. 6 seed Duke.
Notre Dame did not play the Blue Devils in ACC action this season, but the two did face one another in the season opener back on Feb. 7. Duke upended the Irish, 7-3.
Tickets are on sale and the games on Wednesday-Friday will be broadcast on the Regional Sports Networks (RSN), while Saturday’s championship game will air nationally on ESPN. Links for tickets, the broadcasts and live stats will be available on the Florida State softball schedule page of Seminoles.com.