March 17, 2018
by Tony Jones
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Seven different University of Notre Dame softball players found the hit column on Saturday, manufacturing the needed offense against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) host Louisville. A two-run single in the second inning by Ali Wester and a stellar start in the pitching circle for Katie Beriont provided the Irish the difference in a 3-1 victory over the No. RV Cardinals to clinch the league series at Ulmer Stadium.
Notre Dame (18-8, 3-1 ACC) officially claimed its first conference series of the season after splitting two games with NC State last weekend and downing Louisville 10-3 on Friday afternoon. The Irish have now won or tied their last seven conference series with Louisville (20-7, 0-2 ACC) dating back to the 2007 BIG EAST Conference campaign, adding overall victories in 10 of their last 13 games with the Cardinals since 2013.
Wester’s two-RBI single in the top of the second inning provided the only runs batted in for Notre Dame on the day, as seven of the nine Irish starters notched a base knock on the afternoon. Abby Sweet reached base twice by way of a single and hit by pitch, while Katie Marino, MK Bonamy and Ellie Richards each crossed home plate for Notre Dame.
Beriont hurled six innings of one-run softball for the Irish on the mound, allowing seven hits while walking one and striking out four. She won her third straight start in the process, and is 4-1 with an 0.83 ERA in her last six appearances overall (four starts) since March 3. Alexis Holloway notched her third save of the year by throwing a spotless bottom of the seventh inning, logging one strikeout.
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How It Happened
Notre Dame was the first team to break through on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning. Katie Marino led off the frame with a walk, and MK Bonamy ripped a single off the pitcher up the middle to put a pair of Irish runners aboard with nobody out. A Madison Heide sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, where Ali Wester drove them home two batters later with a two-run single up the middle to vault Notre Dame in front 2-0.
Notre Dame starter Katie Beriont worked around a walk and a single through the left side in the bottom of the second to shut out Louisville, picking up two strikeouts swinging to leave runners on the bases.
A leadoff single up the middle looked to get Louisville started in the bottom of the third inning, but the Notre Dame defense had other ideas. Beriont made a great grab on a line drive to her left to not only catch the ball on the fly, but whip around and throw the lead runner out at first for a crucial double play. The Irish southpaw ended the frame with a swinging strikeout to turn the Cardinals aside.
Beriont fashioned a 1-2-3 inning of work in the bottom of the fifth to maintain the three-run lead for Notre Dame. Three ground ball outs, one to Morgan Reed at shortstop, one in front of the plate fielded by Heide and the final back to Beriont in the circle, kept Louisville at bay.
Notre Dame scraped out an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning. Cait Brooks ripped a one-out single up the middle, and pinch runner Ellie Richards moved into scoring position by way of a hard single to left by Melissa Rochford. With one out still on the board, Marino rocked a deep fly ball to center that was caught by the Louisville center fielder, but after the Cardinals fielder lost her footing Richards was able to advance all the way home by tagging up at second to push the Irish edge to 3-0.
A one-out double and RBI single past Marino up the middle in the bottom of the sixth gave Louisville its first run and trimmed the Cardinals deficit to 3-1. Marino responded almost immediately, fielding a hot shot nicely on the very next pitch to turn a 4-6-3 double play with Reed and Bonamy to end the inning.
Alexis Holloway entered in relief in the bottom of the seventh inning and sat the Louisville offense down in order. Reed made a nice charge on a slower roller to shortstop to throw out the first batter of the stanza, then snagged a soft line drive headed to left field for the second out. Holloway froze the final batter of the game looking on a 2-2 offering for her third save of the season.
The Irish and Louisville conclude this weekend’s ACC series with game three on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for Noon (ET) at Ulmer Stadium.
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.