Feb. 24, 2017
by Tony Jones
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – Shaking off a disappointing 3-1 defeat to No. 21/19 Arizona State in Friday’s opening game, the University of Notre Dame softball team responded with grit and determination in the nightcap at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. A four-run fourth inning and five-run sixth inning powered the Irish past No. 11/12 Georgia 10-7 on Fenway Field at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
How It Happened
After a 1-2-3 top of the first inning on defense, Notre Dame (5-8) took the first lead of the game in the bottom half of the frame. Morgan Reed came through with a two-out single to third base, taking second with a stolen base. Caitlyn Brooks ripped an RBI double off the fence in center one batter later to score Reed and vault the Irish ahead 1-0.
Georgia (12-3) pushed the tying run as far as third base in the top of the second inning with two outs following a wild pitch. Irish starter Rachel Nasland induced a pop fly to Brooks at first base one batter later to leave the Bulldog runner stranded.
Nasland went back to work in the top of the third with a three-up, three-down frame. Two ground ball outs and a lineout to center sat Georgia down in order.
The Bulldogs answered with a run on a Notre Dame fielding error in the top of the fourth, tying the game at 1-1. A bunt single kept the Georgia offense moving, but a pop up to Notre Dame’s Katie Marino at second base ended the threat.
Notre Dame erupted for four runs on three hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to open the largest lead of the game at 5-1. Georgia remained unfazed in the top of the fifth, as a three-run home run for the Bulldogs re-tied the game at 5-5.
A two-run home run from Georgia in the top of sixth inning lifted the Bulldogs to a 7-5 advantage. After previously moving to the circle in relief, Brooks forced a strikeout looking to end the stanza.
Notre Dame would not go away, posting its second massive offensive inning of the night in the bottom of the sixth. Madison Heide got things going with a one-out walk, and pinch runner Alexis Bazos moved into scoring position on a Bailey Bigler single. Karley Wester roped an RBI single through the box one batter later to score Bazos and cut the Georgia lead to one (7-6). Ali Wester walked on four straight pitches to load the bases, where a Reed RBI single to left field squared the game at 7-7.
The Irish rally was yet to be complete. A hard-hit grounder to third by Brooks was thrown wide of the plate, allowing both Wester sisters to cross as the go-ahead runs (9-7). A Kimmy Sullivan sacrifice fly to right field plated Reed to stretch the Notre Dame lead to 10-7.
Georgia attempted to cobble one final rally together in the top of seventh, on the strength of two hits. A play at the plate from MK Bonamy at first to Heide behind the plate nailed down the final out.
Arizona State (10-2) took the lead early in the top of the first inning, following an infield single, steal and an RBI base hit for the 1-0 lead. Notre Dame starter Caitlyn Brooks worked around a two-out walk to leave a pair of Sun Devils on the bases.
Arizona State appeared to hit a solo home run to lead off the top of the second, but Notre Dame captain Karley Wester climbed the fence in center to bring the ball back into the yard. Wester’s heroics, and a strong inning from Brooks, held the Sun Devils in the frame.
Without the aid of a hit, Notre Dame pushed the tying run across in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ali Wester reached by way of a one-out Arizona State error, and took second base on the play. An illegal pitch moved Wester to third base, where a Morgan Reed RBI ground ball squared the game at 1-1.
Notre Dame errors in the field pushed the go-ahead Arizona State run across in the top of the fifth, inching the Sun Devils ahead 2-1. A sacrifice fly later in the frame made it 3-1 in favor of Arizona State.
Notre Dame earned its second straight win over Georgia at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, previously dropping the then No. 7/8 Bulldogs 5-3 on Feb. 21, 2015 – Notre Dame enjoyed a four-run third inning in the earlier win against Georgia … The Irish are the only ACC team with two wins over top 15 national opponents in 2017, pairing Saturday’s victory along with a 6-4 win over No. 11/10 Michigan on Feb. 18 … Morgan Reed went 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored against Georgia, as part of a 5-for-7 (.714) day with two RBI and a stolen base … Notre Dame improved to 4-0 thus far in 2017 when holding a lead to start the seventh inning.
The Irish conclude the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Saturday against defending NCAA champion and No. 4/5 Oklahoma at 1 p.m. (ET).
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 and men’s soccer 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.