Feb. 11, 2017
by Tony Jones
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Returning for a second day of play at the Long Beach State Kickoff Tournament, the University of Notre Dame softball team carried a winner’s momentum throughout the mild California Saturday. A 2-1 victory over South Dakota set the stage for a 5-2 triumph over San Diego State to sweep the day at the LBSU Softball Complex.
How It Happened
Caitlyn Brooks attempted to help her own cause in the bottom of the second inning after opening with two scoreless frames in the circle. Brooks laced a leadoff double down the left field line, and then moved to third after a Kimmy Sullivan sacrifice bunt. A pair of Notre Dame (3-1) strikeouts left Brooks stranded at third base.
The Notre Dame offense broke through on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the third inning. Captain Karley Wester reached by way of an infield single with one out, stealing second base to move into scoring position. Ali Wester followed up with a base knock into the left center gap, vaulting the Irish ahead 1-0.
Brooks kept the momentum rolling on the mound in the top of the fourth inning. A groundout and a pair of flyouts by South Dakota (1-4) hitters got the Notre Dame right-hander out of the frame in order.
Notre Dame added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ali Wester reached second base on a one-out error, where Morgan Reed drove her home with an RBI single through the right side for the 2-0 Irish edge.
South Dakota clawed back with one run in the top of the sixth inning on a two-out double to right field that narrowed the Coyote gap to 2-1. A great relay from Bailey Bigler in right to Reed at second to Melissa Rochford at third finished the play with the third out that ended the frame.
Brooks worked around a one-out single by forcing three groundouts in the top of the seventh. The sophomore hurler capped the win by forcing South Dakota’s Jamie Holscher to ground out to Chelsea Purcell at shortstop.
San Diego State
Notre Dame wasted no time getting the offense moving in the top of the first inning. Ali Wester set the table by lining a one-out double down the line past third base. Morgan Reed continued her stellar offensive weekend with a comeback single up the middle, plating Wester for the 1-0 Irish lead.
San Diego State (1-2) battled for the tying run in the bottom of the second inning. A leadoff walk and wild pitch put an Aztec runner at second base, and a Notre Dame error on a stolen base attempt squared the contest at 1-1. Katie Beriont forced back-to-back groundouts to Katie Marino at second base to end the frame.
Notre Dame stormed back in front in the top of the fourth inning. Ali Wester legged out an infield single to shortstop, and Reed pushed her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Caitlyn Brooks rocked an infield single off the glove of San Diego State pitcher Erica Romero to put two on with one away. Melissa Rochford saw just one pitch before depositing her first home run of the season deep and gone over the left field fence. Rochford’s blast put the Irish in front 4-1.
Beriont and the Notre Dame defense worked out of danger in the bottom of the fifth after consecutive singles for San Diego State tried to spark a rally. Successive fielder’s choice putouts kept the Aztecs from trimming the Irish lead.
The Irish added an insurance run during the top of the sixth stanza. After loading the bases with one out, Marino connected on a sacrifice fly to center that scored Kimmy Sullivan and upped the Notre Dame edge to 5-1.
Rachel Nasland entered the game in the bottom of the seventh inning and notched her first save of 2017. A pair of infield pop outs and a strikeout from the senior right-hander secured the Notre Dame win.
Notre Dame finished the Beach Kickoff Tournament with a 3-1 record … Caitlyn Brooks earned her first career win with a complete game five-hitter, walking one and striking out two South Dakota batters … Morgan Reed finished her second straight 4-for-6 day at the plate, adding a double and driving in two runs against South Dakota and San Diego State, while Ali Wester went a combined 4-for-7 with a double, RBI and three runs scored … Katie Marino notched her first career RBI with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning against San Diego State … Melissa Rochford homered during a season-opening tournament for the second straight year, crushing a three-run shot against San Diego State.
The Irish travel to the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament to face No. 8 UCLA on Sunday at noon (ET) in Los Angeles.
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.