Feb. 17, 2018
by Tony Jones
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Responding from a difficult 6-0 setback to No. 20/19 Michigan earlier in the day, the University of Notre Dame softball team attacked early against No. 14 Minnesota on Saturday. A four-run fourth inning lifted the Irish to a 6-5 win over the top-15 ranked Golden Gophers to split at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Florida State’s JoAnne Graf Field.
No. RV Notre Dame (4-3) secured its first ranked victory of the season by defeating No. 14 Minnesota (5-2), extending the Irish streak of seasons with at least one win against the national top 15 to five straight since 2014. Notre Dame, which was scheduled to open the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Michigan (4-3) on Friday, was forced to postpone that game due to travel issues after not arriving in Tallahassee until well after the scheduled 4 p.m. (ET) first pitch on Friday evening.
Morgan Reed reached base in five of her seven plate appearances on Saturday for Notre Dame, hammering out three hits, an RBI and a run scored. Katie Marino, MK Bonamy and Abby Sweet all added a pair of hits for the Irish, while Madison Heide delivered a clutch two RBI single to give the Irish the lead against Minnesota in the fourth inning.
Alexis Holloway (2-2) was the game two winner for Notre Dame, throwing a gritty 3.2 innings of relief with three strikeouts against Minnesota after starting the Michigan game and racking up five punch-outs in that contest. Fellow freshman Morgan Ryan spun 2.1 innings of two-hit softball against the Wolverines earlier in the day.
In order to make up for the postponed game with Michigan from Friday, Notre Dame begins Sunday’s schedule against Minnesota at 8 a.m. (ET) at JoAnne Graf Field. The Irish and Michigan will follow at approximately 10:30 a.m.
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.
How It Happened
A leadoff walk looked to start the top of the first inning for Minnesota, but Irish starter Katie Beriont kept the Golden Gophers off the scoreboard. Katie Marino turned a great 4-3 double play at second base, and Beriont forced a fly ball out to right field to close the Minnesota ups.
Notre Dame struck quickly by way of a pair of Minnesota miscues in the bottom of the first inning. Morgan Reed reached on a throwing error as the Irish leadoff batter, and came around to score on a throwing error with Abby Sweet at the dish two batters later, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. Cait Brooks drove a sacrifice fly to right field with one out to plate Sweet for the 2-0 Irish edge.
Minnesota tied the game with a two-out home run to left field in the top of the third inning. Beriont would then force a foul out behind the plate to keep the game square at 2-2.
The Golden Gophers took the lead in the top of the fourth inning to make it 3-2, but Notre Dame regained control shortly thereafter. Marino singled up the middle to lead off the bottom of the fourth, moving to second base on an MK Bonamy infield single to third. With the bases loaded after a Melissa Rochford walk, Madison Heide ripped a two-run single down the right field line to vault the Irish back ahead at 4-3. RBI singles for Reed and Sweet capped the Notre Dame scoring at 6-3.
Alexis Holloway sped through the Minnesota order in the top of the fifth and sixth innings, notching six straight outs. Three Golden Gopher batters were rung up on strikes during Holloway’s surge.
Minnesota looked to rally in the top of the seventh, ripping a two-run single into center field with one out to trim the deficit to 6-5. With two runners still aboard, Marino snagged a liner near the bag at second base and quickly flipped to Reed for the game-ending double play.
After Alexis Holloway blanked Michigan in the bottom of the first inning, the Wolverines struck in the second frame. Following two quick outs, a passed ball on a swinging strike three kept Michigan alive. A walk and a double to left field later, the Wolverines claimed a 1-0 lead. Holloway forced a grounder back to the circle to end the mini rally.
Holloway helped her own cause by reaching by way of an error to lead off the top of the third, but back-to-back bunts went awry for Notre Dame and could not move Holloway along. The Irish ended the frame with a runner stranded on the bases.
Morgan Reed led off the top of the fourth inning with a double to left field, and ultimately moved to third base by way of a Michigan wild pitch. A swinging strikeout kept the tying run at third.
Michigan would add four runs in the bottom of the fourth and a single run in the bottom of the fifth, but reliever Morgan Ryan held her ground for the Irish. The freshman right-hander scattered two hits and allowed one run in her 2.1 innings of work to hold the Wolverines in check.
Notre Dame claimed a ranked win for the second straight trip to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, after previously downing No. 11/10 Michigan 6-4 on Feb. 18, 2017 in Raleigh, North Carolina ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ The win over Minnesota was the 81st Irish victory against a top-25 ranked foe since 1992, and the 40th against an opponent in the national top 15 – Notre Dame had not defeated Minnesota since March 3, 1995, when the No. 19 Irish stopped the No. 25 Golden Gophers 3-2 at the Aggie Invitational in College Station, Texas ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Katie Marino was responsible for a team-high seven assists at second base for Notre Dame on the day, adding four putouts and starting a pair of double plays to go with her two hits, two walks, two steals and one run scored on offense ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Abby Sweet extended her current hit streak to six straight games after picking up a base knock against both Michigan and Minnesota – The freshman outfielder is batting .348 with an RBI and three runs scored over her first seven career contests ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Madison Heide picked up the first two RBI of her sophomore season with a key two-run single for Notre Dame in the bottom of the fourth against Minnesota – Four of Heide’s seven career RBI have been driven in on either a game-tying, go-ahead or game-winning hit for the Irish.
The Irish close the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Sunday, finishing with Minnesota at 8 a.m. and Michigan at approximately 10:30 a.m. (ET) at JoAnne Graf Field.
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.