Feb. 21, 2016
by Tony Jones
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – Riding the emotional high of a gritty win over No. 8/7 UCLA on Saturday night, the University of Notre Dame softball team kept the momentum rolling on the final morning of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Irish pounded 14 hits over four offensive ups to shut out George Washington 12-0 in five innings on Sunday at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
No. RV Notre Dame (7-3) won its third straight game and capped the Mary Nutter Classic with a 4-1 record for the second consecutive season. The Irish outhit George Washington (0-5) 14-2, slugging five extra base hits. Notre Dame was also successful on both of its stolen base attempts.
George Washington leadoff hitter Megan Linn was hit by the second pitch of the game to take first base in the top of the first inning, but Allie Rhodes (3-2) took command from there. A swinging strikeout of Monica Macchiarulo and a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Carlee Gray ended the Colonial first frame.
Co-captain Karley Wester led off the bottom of the first with a single up the middle off George Washington starter Jayme Cone (0-2). After stealing second base, Ali Wester laced a single of her own to center field to put Notre Dame in front 1-0. With the bases loaded and one out, Kimmy Sullivan drew a four-pitch walk to score Melissa Rochford and make it 2-0. Casey Africano followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, plating Micaela Arizmendi (3-0).
Karley Wester got the offense rolling again with an infield single with one out in the bottom of the second inning. A sacrifice bunt and passed ball moved Wester to third base, where Rochford drove her in with a towering home run. Rochford’s second long ball of the year made it 5-0 Notre Dame.
Rhodes worked an economical three-up, three-down top of the third with three swinging strikeouts. Riley Tejcek, Rochelle Draper and Aiyana Leal-Robles each went down cutting to sit the George Washington side down in order.
Rhodes scattered two hits over her five innings, walking no batters and tying a season-high with eight strikeouts. Rhodes earned her third decision of the weekend, logging two victories and a save at the Mary Nutter Classic.
A one-out single by Sullivan in the bottom of the third inning set the table for Africano, who blasted a two-run home run well beyond the left center wall. Africano’s first home run of 2016 pushed Notre Dame in front 7-0. Karley Wester would add an RBI groundout to first base to score the eighth Irish run of the day (8-0).
George Washington managed its first hit of the game in the top of the fourth inning, but Rhodes forced three straight ground ball outs to keep the Colonials off the scoreboard.
The Irish capped their scoring with four runs in the bottom of the fourth frame. Rochford led off with a double down the left field line against George Washington reliever Ashley Pilcher. After Morgan Reed walked two batters later, Sullivan blasted a three-run home run deep and out to left field. Sullivan’s first of the year upped the Notre Dame lead to 11-0. Sara White came through later in the inning with a pinch-hit single through the left side, plating Africano to cap the Notre Dame offensive day at 12-0.
Five Notre Dame players finished the day with two hits apiece, while Rochford scored a team-high three runs. Sullivan logged four RBI, while Africano added three runs batted in on a pair of hits. Each Irish field starter reached base safely at least once during the contest.
Rhodes worked around a one-out single in the top of the fifth inning with two swinging strikeouts, getting Draper to chase strike three for the final out of the ballgame.
Notre Dame travels to the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic next weekend, competing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The Irish open with East Carolina at 1:15 p.m. (ET) on Feb. 26.
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 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 at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.