RALEIGH, N.C. — No. RV Notre Dame swept Day Two of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge by a combined score of 17-2, besting RV Ohio State 7-1 and RV Illinois 10-1. Pitchers Alexis Holloway (4-1) and Payton Tidd (1-1) each earned wins and combined for 16 strikeouts on the day, while four Irish batters (Holloway, Joley Mitchell, Katie Marino and Abby Sweet) hit home runs, including Sweet’s grand slam vs. Illinois.
How It Happened- Game One vs. Ohio State
As the visitors, the Irish were up first to bat. Emma Clark took the first pitch and singled, reaching second as Marino headed to first on an Ohio State error. Sweet reached on a second error in the next at-bat, loading the bases for the Irish, but the top ended with the Irish still scoreless.
Holloway took the mound for her second-straight start, giving up a two-out single but hanging on to strand the runner on base.
Holloway was the next batter for the Irish, and quickly made her mark with a home run, Notre Dame’s first of the season and Holloway’s second of her career, to put the Irish up 1-0. After a Chelsea Purcell single, the Buckeyes retired the next three to head to the bottom of the second. It was three up, three down for Ohio State, as Holloway noted her first strikeout of the day.
Notre Dame and Ohio State were held scoreless in the third, fourth and fifth innings, as Holloway struck out all three batters in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to up her day’s total to seven.
In the sixth, the Irish found momentum, as Sweet singled and stole second before freshman Mitchell fired a home run, the first of her career, to put Notre Dame up 3-0.
Miranda Johnson singled, and after, Holloway reached on a fielder’s choice that put Johnson out at second. Purcell reached base thanks to an Ohio State error, and advanced with Holloway on a Brooke Marquez groundout, but the inning ended with the two still on base.
Ohio State threatened in the bottom of the sixth, as an error and two singles loaded the bases for the Buckeyes. Thanks to a previous strikeout from Holloway, Grimm got the second out at home plate from a Holloway toss. The only OSU run of the day scored on an error, and Holloway struck out the next batter to end the inning and limit the damage.
Continuing the success of the sixth, the Irish entered the batter’s box in the seventh. After Leea Hanks struck out, Marino was hit by a pitch, and Sweet and Mitchell were walked, loading the bases. Johnson singled to drive home Marino and Sweet, putting Mitchell on third and Johnson on second after advancing on the throw, putting Notre Dame up 5-1. Holloway singled to drive home Johnson and Mitchell, but was out at second on the throw. At the end of the inning, the score stood at 7-1.
Morgan Ryan entered in the seventh in relief for Holloway, forcing the Buckeyes into three groundouts to put the game away.
Game Two vs. Illinois
The Irish were again the visitors for the second contest of the day, with Marino in the leadoff spot. She immediately shot a solo home run from the plate, the 21st of her career and the third of the day (including Game One) for the Irish. Sweet was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a Mitchell single, but both were unable to reach home before the third out.
Tidd took the mound for her first game action of the weekend, and Notre Dame quickly retired all three batters, thanks to a popup and two Tidd strikeouts.
The Irish pitcher was walked in her first at-bat and was the only Notre Dame player to reach base in the second. In the bottom half of the inning, Tidd posted another strikeout following a groundout and flyout.
The third inning saw both teams go without a run, as Marino orchestrated a double play with two runners on base to end the inning.
The Irish went three up, three down in the fourth, and the Illini scored their first run on a fielder’s choice with two runners on. Tidd fired two more strikeouts throughout the inning, ending the fourth with three Illinois runners stranded and limiting the damage.
Alexis Bazos led off the fifth inning as a pinch hitter for Grimm and drew a walk to start the Irish off with momentum. Marino reached on a fielder’s choice and Grimm (running for Bazos) advanced to second. Clark singled to load the bases.
Sweet stepped up to the plate and fired a game-changing grand slam to score Grimm, Marino and Clark. It was Sweet’s eighth home run, and first grand slam, of her career, and Notre Dame’s fourth homer of the day. Sweet’s play marked the first grand slam for the Irish since April 27, 2019 (Cait Brooks). Notre Dame ended the inning up 5-1.
Notre Dame made quick work of the bottom of the fifth, retiring the first three batters. In the sixth, the Irish went three up, three down, and Illinois was held without a run, even with a runner on third. Tidd closed the inning with a strikeout, her seventh of the day.
Sweet kept the momentum going for the Irish with a leadoff double in the seventh. After Mitchell walked, Johnson singled to load the bases before Hanks singled to drive in Sweet. Immediately following, Marquez singled, advancing on the throw, to score Mitchell and Johnson.
Macie Eck entered the game to pinch hit for Tidd and grounded out, scoring Hanks. Grimm did the same, scoring Marquez. Marino walked, and Quinn Biggio (hitting for Clark) walked after Marino advanced to second on a wild pitch. Making it all the way through the batting order, Sweet walked, making it three straight Irish go-aheads, and Clark re-entered to run for Biggio. The three were left on base due to a groundout.
Ryan entered at pitcher to finish out the seventh, and the Irish retired the first three, thanks to a groundout and another Marino double play.
Tidd earned her first win of the season, throwing seven strikeouts. Marino and Sweet both totaled two runs, while Johnson and Sweet slapped two hits each.
Notre Dame concludes the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Sunday with a 10 a.m. rematch with Ohio State. Follow along with @NDSoftball for updates.