April 8, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the second straight night, it was a four-run inning that got the University of Notre Dame softball team humming on offense. After posting a four-spot in the bottom of the third frame, the Irish would add four additional runs over the final three innings to claim an 8-0 shutout of Butler in six innings at Melissa Cook Stadium on Wednesday.
No. RV Notre Dame (29-11) continued its midseason march with its 15th consecutive victory, remaining unbeaten since a 12-0 win in five innings at No. 9/10 Florida State on March 15. The Irish have outscored their opponents 130-18 during the duration of the winning streak, batting at a team clip of .407 in their last 15 games. Notre Dame has also won seven of its last 15 games in six innings or less as a result of the NCAA run rule.
The Irish closed Wednesday’s contest with an 11-4 hits edge over Butler (15-20), improving to 17-0 in 2015 when logging 10 or more hits in a game. Notre Dame added four extra base hits and three stolen bases to its offensive output.
Brandyce Sallee got the Butler order rolling in the top of the first inning, lacing a two-out double to the gap in left center field. Alex Kotter drew a full-count walk against junior Allie Rhodes (12-4) to put runners on the corners with two away, but senior catcher Cassidy Whidden threw out Kotter attempting to steal second base to stall the Butler offense.
Rhodes worked around a Notre Dame fielding error in the top of the second to escape a potential jam. Riley Carter flew out to right field and Sarah Dixon hit a lazy fly out to center field to strand one Bulldog runner on base.
Junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi managed the first Irish hit of the ball game off Butler starter Kristin Gutierrez (7-10) in the bottom of the second inning, legging out an infield single that was hit toward the bag at second. Gutierrez induced three straight fly ball outs to left field to turn Notre Dame away in the frame.
A bunt single in the top of the third by Butler’s Sarah Gronowski was ultimately erased by a strong response from Rhodes. Kristen Boros flew out to center and Sallee struck out swinging to leave Gronowski at second base.
Senior co-captain Jenna Simon legged out an infield single to lead off the bottom of the third inning, moving to second base on a fielder’s choice off the bat of sophomore All-American and 2015 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Top 26 Finalist Karley Wester. As Simon and Wester both advanced on a double steal, a throwing error from the Butler catcher Carter found its way into left field, scoring Simon to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
Senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner made sure that all of the runs in the third would be earned, crushing a two-run home run deep and gone to right field. Koerner’s seventh homer of the year made it 3-0 Irish. Senior Katey Haus clocked a one-out double down the left field line, and Whidden brought her home two batters later with an RBI double of her own into the left center gap (4-0).
Kotter led off the Butler fourth with a single to center field, but Rhodes took control of the inning from there. Alyssa Lach grounded out to shortstop to retire Kotter on a fielder’s choice, and Chelsea Norwood and Carter each flew out to junior Megan Sorlie in right field.
Rhodes yielded only three hits during her five full innings of work, walking one and striking out two Butler batters on 72 pitches. Rhodes has now earned a positive decision (six wins, one save) in her last seven outings overall dating back to a 13-0 Notre Dame victory in five innings over Georgia Tech on March 21.
Notre Dame extended its lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Singles from Sorlie and Wester put two runners on with two outs, where Haus connected on a two-run single into left field to clear the bases and make it 6-0 Irish.
Junior Casey Africano was the only offense the Notre Dame lineup would need in the bottom of the fifth. After entering as a defensive substitution the previous inning behind the plate for Whidden, Africano smacked the first pitch she saw from Mikeila Boroff and easily cleared the wall in left field. Africano’s third home run of the season ran the Notre Dame lead to 7-0.
Freshman Katie Beriont worked a scoreless top of the sixth inning against the Butler lineup, a frame that featured Sorlie robbing Sallee of a hit on an opposite field shot to right. Sorlie fielded the ball on one hop and made a perfect throw to first, retiring Sallee on the uncommon 9-3 putout. With two runners on and two outs, Beriont got Norwood to swing through a 1-2 pitch to strand both runners on base.
Notre Dame closed out the win in the home half of the sixth inning for the second straight night. Pinch hitter Dana Bouquet reached on a Butler throwing error with one out in the frame, and a re-entering Wester stole her second base of the contest to move into scoring position. A fly out to center field by pinch hitter Kimmy Sullivan advanced Wester over to third and brought Haus to the plate. The reigning Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Week lined a one-out RBI single through the left side, scoring Wester to end the game at 8-0.
Haus led all players with a 3-for-4 night at the plate, posting three RBI while scoring one run. Koerner added a pair of RBI, while Wester tied a career-high by scoring three runs for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame resumes ACC play this weekend with a three-game conference set at Boston College. The series is scheduled to open at 1 p.m. (ET) on Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
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