March 13, 2018
by Tony Jones
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the going got tough, the University of Notre Dame softball team got going on Tuesday night at North Florida. A gritty offensive performance from the Irish and dominance from reigning Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Co-Pitcher of the Week Alexis Holloway yielded 4-0 and 3-1 wins for Notre Dame at the UNF Softball Complex.
Notre Dame (15-8) outhit the host Ospreys (13-13) 16-8 on the evening, led by a 5-for-7 effort with two RBI and two runs scored by Ali Wester. Abby Sweet added three hits, an RBI and a run scored, while Alexis Bazos was responsible for the game-winning hit and RBI in the nightcap. Melissa Rochford scored a team-high three runs to match each plate appearance in which she reached.
Holloway (11-4), officially named conference co-pitcher of the week during the opening game on the strength of a no-hit weekend at NC State, was virtually unhittable again at North Florida. In nine full innings of work, Holloway allowed a lone infield single with five walks and 14 strikeouts to claim one victory and one save. In her last nine appearances (41.0 innings), Holloway is a sterling 7-0 with an 0.34 ERA, one save, an .089 batting average against and 47 strikeouts.
Katie Beriont (4-4) spun five innings of one-run softball, which was unearned, to go along with two strikeouts for the game two win. Beriont has fashioned a 1.19 ERA herself in her past five appearances (three starts) since Feb. 24.
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How It Happened
Both teams battled through a stalemate for the first five innings, with North Florida not able to register a hit against Notre Dame starter Alexis Holloway. Holloway picked up one strikeout in the first, two in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth inning to blank the Ospreys.
Notre Dame broke through on offense in the top of the sixth inning. Ali Wester slapped an infield single to third base, and both Abby Sweet and Morgan Reed reached by way of sacrifice bunt attempts without being retired by North Florida. Consecutive sacrifice flies for Cait Brooks and Katie Marino allowed Wester and Sweet to tag up at third base and score, giving Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.
A softly hit infield single to the left side to lead off the bottom of the sixth was the only real damage North Florida was able to inflict in the game against Holloway. A groundout to Marino at second, a strikeout swinging and a strikeout looking sent the Ospreys away in their half.
The Irish tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning. Melissa Rochford set the table with a leadoff single up the middle, moving all the way to third base after a throwing error on a one-out sacrifice bunt by Alexis Bazos. Wester chopped an RBI single out to second base to score Rochford and make it 3-0 Notre Dame. Abby Sweet then followed with a laser beam RBI double down the left field line, plating Bazos for the 4-0 Irish advantage.
After a leadoff walk to open the bottom of the seventh for North Florida, Holloway slammed the door from there. A groundout to Marino at second and the final two ground ball outs to Rochford at third capped the Notre Dame shutout.
Ali Wester kept her hot day at the plate rolling with a leadoff single to shortstop in the top of the first inning, with Abby Sweet following up with a bunt single to third base. Morgan Reed cashed in the RBI chance with a single up the middle, bringing Wester around for the 1-0 lead.
A throwing error with two outs in the bottom of the second inning provided North Florida with its only run of the day to tie the game at 1-1. Irish starter Katie Beriont stranded the bags full of Ospreys in the first, fourth and fifth innings to keep Notre Dame in relative command.
Notre Dame re-took the lead in the top of the fourth. A leadoff walk for Melissa Rochford and a passed ball put her in scoring position, before moving to third base after Madison Heide reached via an error. Alexis Bazos calmly dropped an RBI single into left field to score Rochford and vault the Irish back ahead 2-1.
An insurance run was also in the cards for Notre Dame in the top of the sixth stanza. Rochford remained the fire-starter with a single to right field, advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sarah Genz. Bazos reached on a North Florida throwing error that took Rochford to third, where Wester again drove in another run with an RBI single up the middle for the 3-1 lead.
Alexis Holloway made her second appearance of the day in the bottom of the sixth and mowed through the Ospreys from there. A total of four strikeouts, including striking out the side swinging in the bottom of the seventh, gave the Notre Dame right-hander her first career save.
The Irish travel across the city to face Jacksonville on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (ET) at the Pruitt Softball Complex.
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.