March 31, 2018
by Tony Jones
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Opening the day with a gritty 5-4 win over Virginia Tech, the University of Notre Dame softball team went all-in for the series victory in the second game of the afternoon on Saturday. Three runs in the top of the eighth inning book-ended a complete-game gem for Alexis Holloway in a 3-1 triumph to clinch the series at Tech Softball Park.
Notre Dame (23-12, 7-4 ACC) bounced back from a 2-1 defeat at the hands of host Virginia Tech (13-20, 2-9 ACC) to earn its second Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series win of the year. The Irish have won the last four series against the Hokies dating back to the 2015 season.
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How It Happened
Notre Dame wasted no time jumping on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. Ali Wester led off with a single up the middle and Abby Sweet was put aboard thanks to a hit by pitch. On a deep fly ball off the bat of Cait Brooks with two outs, the Virginia Tech left fielder was unable to make the catch and both Irish runners scored for a 2-0 Notre Dame lead.
Notre Dame tacked on an insurance run in the top of the second. Alexis Bazos slapped a one-out single to second base, and moved to scoring position on a wild pitch. Following a Marino walk, Sweet slugged an RBI single up the middle to plate Bazos for the 3-0 Irish advantage.
After Virginia Tech tied the game at 3-3. the Irish re-took the lead in the top of the third inning. Melissa Rochford connected on her first home run of the season, taking a solo shot over the wall in left field to push Notre Dame in front 4-3.
Back-to-back shutout innings for Beriont kept Virginia Tech off the scoreboard in the third and fourth innings. A nice play at third by Rochford with two outs erased the Hokie ups in the bottom of the fourth.
Sweet rocked a solo home run over the wall down the line in left on the first pitch of the top of the fifth inning. Sweet’s second home run of the year extended the Notre Dame lead to 5-3.
Virginia Tech drew within one run in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run to left that trimmed the deficit to 5-4. Alexis Holloway entered in relief and picked up a key swinging strikeout to end the inning.
Holloway worked around a one-out single to earn the save in the bottom of the seventh inning. A lineout to Sweet in center and a fielder’s choice at second base ended the game.
Alexis Holloway (14-8) threw two straight shutout innings out of the gate for Notre Dame to begin the rubber match. A three-up, three-down showing in the bottom of the second turned Virginia Tech aside.
Holloway mowed through the Hokies order with a three-up, three-down stanza in the third inning. A two-out walk in the bottom of the fourth was left on the bases with a ground ball out to shortstop.
Holloway helped her own cause in the top of the sixth inning, lacing a one-out single into left center for the first Notre Dame hit of the day. She would advance as far as second base before consecutive grounders put the Irish out.
Notre Dame got the better of Virginia Tech in the top of the eighth inning. MK Bonamy smacked a one-out single up the middle, and cruised into second base on a Hokie fielding error. A second hit for Holloway, this time an infield single to the left side, loaded the bases for Alexis Bazos. Bazos artfully soft-slapped an RBI single into play to bring Bonamy home for the 1-0 lead. Ali Wester added a rocket two-run single through the right side to score Holloway and Melissa Rochford for the 3-0 Irish advantage.
Virginia Tech scraped one run back with a sacrifice fly to right field that trimmed the Notre Dame lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth. A walk with two outs brought the tying run to the plate, but a foul ball out to Bonamy near first base capped the win.
Notre Dame travels to Michigan State for a midweek contest on Tuesday in East Lansing, 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.