March 10, 2015
BUIES CREEK, N.C. – In a back and forth midweek battle, Campbell gave the University of Notre Dame all it could handle in nonconference softball action on Tuesday night. In the end, clutch hitting and a strong pitching performance by the visitors led the Irish to an inspired 4-3 victory over Campbell at Amanda Littlejohn Stadium.
No. RV Notre Dame (13-9) improved to 3-0 against Campbell (13-8) in the all-time series between the teams, with Tuesday’s contest being the first held on North Carolina soil. The Irish are now a combined 28-10 (.737) against opponents hailing from North or South Carolina.
Notre Dame tied a season-high with four stolen bases and added a pair of extra base hits against Campbell pitching. With a slim 6-5 hits lead against the Camels on the night, the Irish improved to an impressive 11-2 (.846) when outhitting their opponent in 2015.
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester singled to left center off Campbell starter Katie Baker (7-4) to lead off the top of the first inning. During the next Irish at-bat, Wester stole second base cleanly and advanced to third on a wild pitch as the play continued. An RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of senior co-captain Jenna Simon brought Wester in from third base, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. After senior Katey Haus reached on a fielder’s choice, junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi sent a no doubt home run deep over the wall in right center field. Arizmendi’s fourth home run of the year extended the Irish lead to 3-0.
Sophomore Rachel Nasland (6-5) worked around a walk issued to Campbell’s Stephanie Jones to retire the Camel side in the bottom of the first inning. Ericka Nesbitt lined out to third base, Baker flied out to left field and Chandler Patterson fouled out behind home plate.
Brittany Bruce picked up the first Campbell hit of the day in the bottom of the second, roping a one-out double to the gap in left center to push Melissa Tullar to third base. Nasland dug back in to strike out Bailey Bjorson and force Karsen Leonhardt to line out to Haus at third base, stranding both Camel runners on base.
Nasland found her groove in the Campbell half of the third frame, sitting the Camels down in order 1-2-3. Nesbitt and Jones each struck out looking, with Baker fouling out to Haus next to third base for the inning’s final out. Nasland ran it to three straight strikeouts to pick up the first two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning before Tullar stung a 1-1 pitch to the warning track in left. Wester took a great angle to the ball and snagged the high fly on the run to end the Campbell ups.
Nasland threw 109 pitches (77 strikes) during her seventh complete game of 2015, yielding five hits over seven full innings. The Notre Dame right-hander walked two and struck out a career-high 11 Campbell batters to claim the victory.
Notre Dame added one run to its lead in the top of the fifth. Junior Kimmy Sullivan worked a leadoff walk to open the frame, and Wester followed with a double to left field against Baker. Simon reached on an infield single to load the bases with nobody out, and Haus delivered an RBI ground ball out to shortstop to push the Notre Dame lead to 4-0.
Campbell answered in the bottom of the fifth inning when Baker clubbed a three-run blast over the left field wall to draw the Camels within one run at 4-3. The damage could have been much worse in the frame had it not been for the heroics of senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner.
Bruce looked to connect on a solo home run to open the fifth on a high fly ball to the deepest part of the park in center, where Koerner arrived on the scene to lunge over the fence, snow cone the ball in her glove and bring back the would-be jack, stunning the Camel lineup.
Nasland finished off the victory by allowing one hit over her final two innings. Bjorson and pinch hitter Maggie Christopher each struck out swinging in the bottom of the seventh, and Nesbitt grounded out to freshman Morgan Reed at shortstop to end the game.
Notre Dame is scheduled to close its midweek slate against North Carolina Central on Wednesday in Cary, with a planned first pitch time now scheduled for noon (ET) due to the potential for inclement weather in the area.
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