April 3, 2015
PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Momentum. Heart. Aggression. Determination. Offense. Any and every one of those words fit the University of Notre Dame softball team’s approach entering Friday’s conference doubleheader in the “Steel City”. Some 27 runs on 31 hits later, the Irish rolled to 13-5 and 14-0 (in five innings) victories over No. RV Pittsburgh at Vartabedian Field. The sweep officially gave Notre Dame its third straight Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series victory.
The Irish (26-11, 9-5 ACC) increased their current overall winning streak to 12 games, the longest such string for Notre Dame since the 2012 season. In their past nine ACC victories, the Irish have outscored league foes a remarkable 82-8.
Notre Dame put on the offensive display in the face of potential inclement weather throughout the Pittsburgh area. First pitch in game one was delayed for 10 minutes due to rain, at which point the skies and the Irish offense opened up for the remainder of the afternoon.
“I love the way that we came out because we completely kept our composure on a day where if anyone would have asked ahead of time, there is no way we would have played,” Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “The forecast gave us no chance to finish (even) the first game, so I love how the girls came out and attacked inning to inning.”
Perhaps the most unique part of the Notre Dame offensive success was the variety of way in which the team’s 27 runs were scored. Two home runs by senior Katey Haus were the only hits to leave the ballpark during game one, although the Irish added four other extra base hits. Game two was a power surge that featured five home runs and three additional doubles.
“I thought we did a great job of getting better as the day went on,” Gumpf said. “What you saw with the power was our hitters focusing in, and we were able to have a good idea of what they were going to throw us. We kind of zeroed in on that and did a great job with the pitches.”
Haus had the hot hand for Notre Dame throughout the day, capping her two starts with a 4-for-8 (.500) effort with a double, three home runs, seven RBI and four runs scored. While drawing an addition walk, the Irish third baseman added three putouts and three assists in the field at the hot corner.
“Haus is so zoned in right now and just hitting the right pitches,” Gumpf said. “What she is doing great is making them throw her strikes. When they don’t she’ll take the walk, and that’s what great hitters do. They don’t swing at pitches they shouldn’t be swinging at, and that’s what Haus is doing.”
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester reached a career milestone during the sweep, hitting for a doubleheader cycle against Pittsburgh (25-13, 6-8 ACC). Wester went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, two RBI and two runs scored in game one before saving her best for last, crushing a one-out grand slam to right in the top of the fourth inning in the nightcap for her first collegiate home run. For the dynamic Irish left fielder, there was no other way to hit her first career homer.
“The whole time she was at bat, I was like `Just make something happen kid, just make something happen. No big thing, just hit the ball up the middle.’ And then boom, she crushes the ball,” Gumpf said. “I’m so happy for her. She was able to show her power today and that was really cool.”
Senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner shook off a slow start in game one to storm to the forefront in the second game of the twin bill. The recent draft pick of the National Pro Fastpitch’s (NPF) USSSA Pride went 3-for-4 in game two, crushing two solo home runs and scoring three runs. Koerner’s second home run officially broke the Notre Dame career record for total bases (413) that was previously held by former All-American Jarrah Myers (’02) at 409.
“That is exactly what you can say about Emi Koerner, she is the complete hitter for us,” Gumpf said. “She is able to do so many things for this team, and I love the way she got better as the day went on today.”
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh will close the three-game ACC series on Saturday with a noon (ET) scheduled first pitch. Coverage of the contest will be available on ESPN3.
“We’re going to focus on attacking good pitches on Saturday, because when we do that we are really good,” Gumpf said. “We’re hitting the ball well when we make them throw us strikes, and when we got ourselves into trouble today it was swinging at pitches we shouldn’t have been. We need to make them throw good pitches at us and attack again. I would tell them don’t change a thing (in our approach).”
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 13, No. RV Pittsburgh 5
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester crushed a leadoff double to left off Pittsburgh starter Savannah King (15-6) in the top of the first inning. After Wester stole third base, senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner worked a walk. A sharp grounder to shortstop by senior Katey Haus sent Wester, who beat the throw home to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. Back-to-back singles from junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi and freshman Morgan Reed brought Koerner across, upping the Irish lead to 2-0. Junior Megan Sorlie then worked a bases-loaded walk to push across the third Notre Dame run (3-0). Pittsburgh committed a two-out fielding error later in the frame, allowing seniors Cassidy Whidden and Jenna Simon to score to cap the inning’s scoring (5-0).
Sophomore Rachel Nasland (13-6) surrendered a full-count walk to Shelby Pickett in the bottom of the first frame, but settled in from there. Maggie Sevilla popped out to Haus at third base, Jenna Modic flew out to right field and Carly Thea grounded out to third base.
Wester expertly pulled a pitch from King into the right center gap to lead off the top of the second, blazing into third base with her third triple of the season. Koerner drew another walk, and Haus brought Wester in from third with a groundout to shortstop to extend the Irish cushion to 6-0.
Nasland sped through the Panthers order in the bottom of the second inning to hang another zero on the Pittsburgh side. McKayla Taylor grounded out to first base, Jordan Fannin grounded out to second and Arizmendi made a nice flip to Simon covering first to retire Kaitlin Manuel on a sneaky ground ball up the line.
With Simon on base after a fielder’s choice and Sorlie aboard following an infield single in the top of the third, Wester laced a two-out single through the left side to empty the bases and push Notre Dame in front 8-0.
Haus took the first pitch she saw from Pittsburgh reliever Alexis Larkin in the top of the fourth inning and crushed a monster home run to straightaway center field off the press box at nearby Ambrose Urbanic Soccer Field. Haus’ career-high ninth home run of the season upped the Notre Dame count to 9-0.
Pittsburgh began chipping away at the Irish lead in the bottom of the fourth, as Modic nailed a line drive to center that just found its way over the fence for a solo home run. Modic’s long ball trimmed the Panther deficit to 9-1. Nasland bounced back strong, forcing consecutive fly outs to right, left and center fields to limit the Pittsburgh rally.
Sophomore Carly Piccinich got the Notre Dame offense rolling in the top of the fifth inning, reaching on a nicely placed bunt single and a steal of second base. Haus did the damage three batters later, crushing her second home run of the day deep and over the scoreboard in left field to vault Notre Dame in front 11-1. An Arizmendi double and a pinch-hit RBI single by junior Casey Africano capped the inning scoring and left the Irish with a 12-1 lead.
Pittsburgh kept the game going in the bottom of the fifth, as Pickett crushed a three-run home run over the wall in left center field to cut the Notre Dame lead to 12-4. Sevilla followed with a solo shot to left field to further trim the deficit to 12-5.
Arizmendi legged out a one-out infield single in the top of the sixth inning, and after pinch runner Kimmy Sullivan moved to second base on an Irish groundout, Whidden stung an RBI double to right center field to extend the Notre Dame lead to eight at 13-5.
Freshman Katie Beriont worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning to shut the door on the Panthers in their final ups. Ashlee Sills struck out swinging, Pickett grounded out to third base and Sevilla grounded out back to the circle to close the 1-2-3 frame and clinch the win.
Game 2 — No. RV Notre Dame 14, No. RV Pittsburgh 0 (5)
Senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner started the Notre Dame order off with a sharp single to right field in the top of the first off Pittsburgh starter Kayla Harris (8-7). Senior Katey Haus wasted no time cashing in, sending her third home run of the day screaming off the scoreboard in left field to give the Irish a quick 2-0 lead.
Pittsburgh looked to break through in the bottom of the first inning after Carly Thea sent a base hit back up the middle. Koerner came up firing from center and threw a strike to senior Cassidy Whidden behind the dish, gunning down Shelby Pickett streaking for the plate. Junior Allie Rhodes (11-4) then struck out McKayla Taylor swinging to strand two Panthers runners on base.
Rhodes worked around a two-out walk in the bottom of the second to ring up Ashlee Sills on a swinging strike three to retire the Pittsburgh side in the frame.
Notre Dame cranked up the offense again in the top of the third inning. A Haus walk and a single by junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi kick started the Irish frame, and a Harris wild pitch two batters later scored pinch runner Carly Piccinich and put Notre Dame in front 3-0. An RBI single by Whidden down the left field line subsequently scored Arizmendi (4-0).
Koerner grooved a no-doubt shot off the soccer stadium bleachers in right field with one out in the top of the fourth inning. Her fifth home run of the season upped the Notre Dame edge to 5-0. An RBI double from Arizmendi later in the frame scored Haus (6-0) and helped chase Harris from the contest.
Whidden made reliever Jenna Modic’s first batter faced less than welcoming, drilling a three-run home run to left field to make it 9-0 Notre Dame. The Irish weren’t done, as sophomore All-American Karley Wester drilled her first collegiate home run with one out and the bases loaded, sending a screaming liner over the right field fence to clear the bags and make it 13-0 Notre Dame. A solo home run from Koerner broke the Irish career total bases record and capped the inning with the 10th Notre Dame run (14-0).
A leadoff double was the only damage done by the Pittsburgh offense in the bottom of the fourth. Rhodes struck out Kaitlin Manuel, Jordan Fannin and Erin Hershman all swinging to get out of the inning.
Freshman Katie Beriont forced Pickett to ground out to second base, Maggie Sevilla to ground out to first base and Modic to ground out to second base to secure the shutout.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant