March 29, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The past three weekend Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series for the University of Notre Dame softball team have bridged the gap from the first half into the second stanza of the 2015 softball season. A total of 23 team hits and a masterful pitching performance carried the upward trending Irish to a 6-1 win and an 11-1 victory in five innings over No. 24 Virginia Tech on Sunday at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Along with Saturday’s 2-0 shutout of the Hokies (24-9, 3-8 ACC) in the series opening contest, No. RV Notre Dame (23-11, 7-5 ACC) officially claimed its second straight ACC sweep after taking three games from Georgia Tech last weekend. The Irish also ran their overall winning streak to nine games dating back to a 12-0 decision in five innings at No. 9/10 Florida State on March 15, and have now won eight games over top 25 opponents thus far in 2015.
Notre Dame closed the three-game set against Virginia Tech with a sizable 31-11 hits edge, including a remarkable 28 singles. The Irish also improved to 21-2 (.913) this season when outhitting opponents, including a perfect 11-0 when posting 10 or more hits in a contest, after Sunday’s pair of wins.
Junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi was the Notre Dame leader with four hits on Sunday, scoring two runs. Freshman Sara White, junior Megan Sorlie, senior co-captain Jenna Simon and senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner each added three hits during the twin bill, with Koerner and Sorlie scoring a pair of runs. Senior Cassidy Whidden also contributed a home run and a team-high four RBI, while sophomore All-American Karley Wester successfully stole two bases.
Sophomore Rachel Nasland (12-6) continued to dazzle in the circle in winning her sixth straight decision, spinning a complete game three-hitter to open the Sunday doubleheader. Nasland allowed one run (by way of a wild pitch), walked one and struck out six Virginia Tech batters to win her fifth straight ACC start. Nasland has allowed a mere five runs (0.92 ERA) in her last 38 innings pitched during her current six-game winning streak.
Junior Allie Rhodes (9-4) was virtually lights out herself for Notre Dame in game two, allowing one run on two hits in four full innings for her third straight win. Rhodes walked three and struck out two Virginia Tech hitters on 55 pitches to secure the victory. Freshman Katie Beriont logged her sixth straight scoreless relief appearance by pitching a shut out top of the fifth inning out of the bullpen for the Irish.
Notre Dame closes its nine-game homestand with a midweek showdown against Eastern Michigan at 4 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday. A live video stream of the game will be available via WatchND.
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.
Game 1 — No. RV Notre Dame 6, No. 24 Virginia Tech 1
Virginia Tech’s Breanna Davenport led off the top of the first inning with a four-pitch walk, but that was the only real damage the Hokies managed in their first ups. Sophomore Rachel Nasland grounded out Lauren Gaskill to senior Katey Haus at third base, struck out Kylie McGoldrick swinging and Katey Smith chopped out to third on another great play from Haus.
The Hokies broke through in the top of the second inning, which began on a Kelsey Mericka leadoff double to the left center field gap. Nasland forced a strikeout of Michelle Prong and a ground out of Vanessa Gonzalez for the first two outs, but a wild pitch with Logan Spaw at the plate scored Mericka to give Virginia Tech a 1-0 lead. Spaw would later fly out to center field to end the frame.
After allowing a lone single to the Virginia Tech order in the top of the third, Nasland struck out Gaskill swinging and induced a lineout to shortstop off the bat of McGoldrick to emerge from the inning unscathed.
Freshman Sara White and junior Megan Sorlie heated up the Irish order in the bottom of the third inning, with White lacing a single to right center and Sorlie chopping an infield hit to shortstop. Three straight Notre Dame outs stranded two runners on the base paths.
Notre Dame was able to claw back and tie the contest in the bottom of the fourth against Virginia Tech starter Maggie Tyler (11-6). Junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi grooved a one-out double off the wall in right center, and pinch runner Kimmy Sullivan ultimately came around to score on an RBI single up the middle from senior Cassidy Whidden to square the game at 1-1.
Nasland held the Hokies at bay during the top of the fifth inning, sitting the Virginia Tech side down in order. Spaw grounded out to third base, Bailey Liddle struck out swinging and Davenport grounded out to senior co-captain Jenna Simon at second base.
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester reached on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the fifth, cleanly stealing second base when Virginia Tech catcher Smith tried a pickoff play to first. Senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner ripped an RBI single through the right side one batter later, scoring Wester to give Notre Dame a 2-1 lead. After an Arizmendi single to right center, freshman Morgan Reed scored both runners with a gap single to up the Irish advantage to 4-1.
A White two-out single loaded the bases for Sorlie, who worked a walk to bring home another Notre Dame run (5-1) in the Notre Dame fifth. Simon capped the five-run Irish half with an infield single pulled to the right side, scoring Reed from third to make it 6-1 Notre Dame.
It was another three-up, three-down inning for Nasland and Notre dame in the top of the sixth inning. Gaskill struck out swinging, McGoldrick flied to center field and Smith lined out to third base.
Game 2 — No. RV Notre Dame 11, No. 24 Virginia Tech 1 (5)
Junior Allie Rhodes made quick work of the Virginia Tech order in the top of the first inning, allowing only one baserunner. Katey Smith reached by way of a full-count walk, but Breanna Davenport flew out to left field, Kylie McGoldrick grounded out to shortstop and Kelsey Mericka flew out to right field to stall the Hokies offensive.
Notre Dame kept the momentum rolling from game one and put the pressure on Virginia Tech starter Mikaela Aiken (5-2) from the outset. Following a two-out single by junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi to extend the bottom of the first inning, senior Cassidy Whidden cleared the bags with a three-run home run that carried deep and gone to left field. Whidden’s sixth home run of the year gave Notre Dame a 3-0 lead.
Rhodes shut Virginia Tech down again in the top of the second, grounding Michelle Prong out to second base, flying Vanessa Gonzalez out to right field and striking out Jessie Mehr swinging for the final out.
Junior Megan Sorlie drove a one-out single up the middle in the Notre Dame second inning, moving into scoring position thanks to a passed ball charged to Virginia Tech catcher Smith. Sophomore All-American Karley Wester took the RBI chance in stride by also singling up the middle, upping the Irish advantage to 4-0.
Notre Dame put the game away in the bottom of the third frame with seven runs on six hits against Aiken and reliever Maggie Tyler. Senior Katey Haus opened the inning with a single, and a second straight single from Arizmendi moved pinch runner Carly Piccinich to second base. Freshman Morgan Reed ultimately pushed Piccinich across with a fielder’s choice to shortstop, extending the Notre Dame cushion to 5-0.
The Irish would add six additional runs in the third with two outs on the scoreboard. A Sorlie single to right field brought Reed across from second base (6-0). Senior co-captain Jenna Simon added an infield hit one batter later to score freshman Sara White and make it 7-0 Notre Dame. Wester clocked her second hit of the day into left field, and a fielding error by Virginia Tech’s Gonzalez enabled Sorlie to score (8-0). After senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner walked to load the bases, Haus ripped a three-run double to left center for her second hit of the inning to clear the bases and give the Irish a commanding 11-0 lead.
Mericka ended Rhodes’ no-hit bid on the first pitch of the top of the fourth inning, crushing a solo home run off the scoreboard in left field to cut the deficit to 11-1. Prong followed with a single to try to start the rally, but Rhodes recorded three straight outs to keep the 10-run lead intact.
Freshman Katie Beriont got the call for Notre Dame in the top of the fifth inning to close out the contest. A Davenport walk and McGoldrick single put a pair of Virginia Tech runners aboard with one out, but Beriont fouled Smith out to Arizmendi near the Hokie dugout before inducing a Mericka fly out to center to close the series.