CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Notre Dame Softball team faced two defeats in the opening day of the 2020 NFCA Leadoff Classic, falling 3-1 to RV MIssouri and 4-1 to No. 23 Auburn. In both matchups, the Irish kept it close, holding opponents to just one run each in the first six innings.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Starting pitcher Payton Tidd and the Irish battled Missouri to start, holding each other scoreless in the first two innings. The Tigers struck first in the third inning, as Kendyll Bailey singled up the left side to score Brooke Wilmes. Thanks to quick defensive play, catcher Shelby Grimm tagged Cayla Kessinger out at home.
Notre Dame quickly answered in the bottom of the third, as Leea Hanks singled to first and stole second, as Joley Mitchell reached first on a walk. Katie Marino singled to bring home Hanks, who scored Notre Dame’s first run, while Marino advanced to second on the throw.
Tidd and the Irish held the Tigers scoreless through the next three innings, and entered the seventh tied. Morgan Ryan entered the game in the seventh as relief for Notre Dame. Missouri scored two runs in the top of the seventh, before Ryan struck out the final batter. Unable to answer, Notre Dame fell, 3-1.
In the game immediately following, Auburn got on the board in the first inning as Abby Tissier singled to drive in Tyler King.
Notre Dame made impressive defensive plays to hold the Tigers without a run for five innings, including a fourth inning with three straight Joley MItchell-Miranda Johnson connections for outs, and a fifth-inning speedy diving catch by outfielder Leea Hanks in left field to end the inning with bases loaded. In the next outing, Shelby Grimm caught a pop foul and turned it to Katie Marino for a double play to end the top of the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Hanks marked a base hit, advancing to second on a passed ball and third on a wild pitch. She scored for Notre Dame on a Katie Marino bunt, tying the game heading into the seventh inning.
Despite an impressive complete game from starting pitcher Alexis Holloway, Notre Dame ultimately fell to Auburn, as the Tigers scored three runs in the seventh.
The Irish will return tomorrow to take on Missouri State (3 p.m.) and Ole Miss (5:30 p.m.) in Day 2 of the NFCA Leadoff Classic, finishing out the weekend against South Alabama (Noon) on Sunday.