Feb. 18, 2018
by Tony Jones
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Riding the momentum of a 6-5 Saturday win against No. 14 Minnesota, the University of Notre Dame softball team finished the weekend in style on Sunday at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Irish completed the sweep against Minnesota 3-0 before taking down No. 20/19 Michigan 4-3 at Florida State’s JoAnne Graf Field.
No. RV Notre Dame (6-3) posted a 3-1 combined record against Minnesota (5-4) and Michigan (5-3), holding the opposition to a .175 batting average for the weekend. In just their second trip to the Big Ten/ACC showcase, the Irish now stand at an even 4-4 in the annual tournament.
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How It Happened
Alexis Holloway (4-2) motored through the Minnesota order in each of the first two innings, retiring the side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first. A two-out single for the Golden Gophers in the second was immediately erased by a groundout to MK Bonamy at first base to end the inning.
Notre Dame was the first team on the board in the top of the third inning. Infield singles for Bonamy and Chelsea Purcell, and a base knock into left field for Morgan Reed, loaded the bases with one out. A wild pitch skirted away from the Minnesota catcher and brought Bonamy home for the 1-0 Irish lead.
Following another scoreless frame for Holloway in the bottom of the third, Notre Dame padded its lead in the top of the fourth inning. Katie Marino ripped a single and Bonamy reached by error to set the table for Purcell. Purcell ripped a line drive that kicked off the glove of the Minnesota shortstop and all the way to center field, clearing the bases with a two-run triple for the 3-0 Irish edge.
Holloway followed with 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth against the Minnesota order. The final out of the sequence was a ground ball to third base that Melissa Rochford fired calmly across the diamond.
Notre Dame pushed an insurance run to third base in the top of the seventh inning, as Purcell ripped a double down the left field line to lead off the frame. The Irish left fielder was left standing on the base paths to close the Notre Dame ups.
Holloway polished off the one-hitter and her first career shutout in the bottom of the seventh. Following a leadoff walk, Minnesota went down in order by way of a foul out behind the plate, a lineout to left field and a swinging strikeout.
Notre Dame struck quickly against Michigan in the bottom of the first inning following a 1-2-3 top of the frame by Katie Beriont. Katie Marino singled to right field and stole second, moving to third base on an Abby Sweet single. After Cait Brooks was intentionally walked to load the bags, a wild pitch brought Marino across for the 1-0 Notre Dame lead. MK Bonamy then delivered a sacrifice fly to right that allowed Sweet to tag for the 2-0 Irish edge.
Michigan looked to threaten with its first hit of the game in the top of the second, moving the runner into scoring position with a stolen base. Beriont battled back with a swinging strikeout to get out of the jam.
The Wolverines would break through on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning, blasting a game-tying three-run home run over the wall in center to square the game at 3-3. Beriont forced the next batter to ground out to short to cut the Michigan rally short.
Alexis Holloway entered in the top of the fifth inning and, after walking the first batter she faced, went to work against the Michigan order. She began by getting out of a bases-loaded jam with a swinging strikeout after a nine-pitch at-bat to end the fifth. It was more of the same in the sixth, as a lineout to shortstop, a backward K and a popup to second base halted the Wolverines from threatening.
Notre Dame took command of the game with an offensive surge in the bottom of the sixth. Brooks ripped a leadoff single up the middle, and pinch runner Ali Wester found her way to second on an MK Bonamy sacrifice bunt. Melissa Rochford and Chelsea Purcell were both hit by pitch to load the bases with one out. Madison Heide nearly ripped the go-ahead single through the 3-4 hole, but a diving stab by Michigan on the hot corner kept the game tied and the bases full. Holloway helped her own cause by also being hit by pitch, bringing Wester in for the 4-3 Irish lead.
Michigan laid down a bunt to open the top of the seventh inning, but Holloway made a quick throw to Marino covering at second base. After a one-out walk, the Wolverines brought the go-ahead run to the plate. On a sharp line drive onto the grass behind the bag at first, Marino made an unbelievable diving catch and doubled the lead runner off for the second time of the weekend to secure the win.
Notre Dame capped a 3-1 weekend at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge with its second and third win of the event over top-25 foes – It is believed to be the first time in program history that the Irish have claimed three ranked victories during the same tournament … Notre Dame improved to 2-1 against Michigan in its last three meetings with the Wolverines, and swept Minnesota for the first time ever in a tournament setting – Michigan had previously won 14 straight games against Notre Dame from the year 2000 until a 6-4 Irish win at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last February … The win over Minnesota was the 82nd Irish victory against a top-25 ranked foe since 1992, and the 41st against an opponent in the national top 15 – The Michigan win was the 83rd ranked win … In 14 innings pitched on Sunday, Notre Dame held both Minnesota and Michigan to a 4-for-45 effort (.089) with only one extra-base hit – The Irish were also successful on all 58 attempts in the field on the day … Alexis Holloway spun 9.1 innings of shutout softball on the day, allowing a lone single to Minnesota, with five walks and six strikeouts – The Notre Dame freshman closed the weekend 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA, striking out 14 batters in 16.2 innings with a .140 batting average against … Chelsea Purcell finished the game against Minnesota a home run shy of the cycle, going a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBI. Katie Marino added three hits and a run scored on the day, while MK Bonamy crossed the plate twice.
The Irish travel to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic from Feb. 22-24 at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex in Cathedral City, California.
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, men’s soccer and swimming and diving 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.