March 11, 2015
CARY, N.C. – Building on the momentum of a nonconference road victory the previous night at Campbell, the University of Notre Dame softball team was in search of an offensive spark to cap the North Carolina portion of its Spring Break game schedule. The Irish scored early and often on Wednesday, downing North Carolina Central 9-0 in five innings during a midweek showdown at Thomas Brooks Park.
No. RV Notre Dame (14-9) won its ninth nonleague game in its past 10 starts out of conference, and have outscored opponents 62-24 during that span. The Irish outhit NCCU (7-6) 13-2 on the day, adding two doubles, one triple and a pair of home runs to the offensive attack. Notre Dame improved to 12-2 (.857) this season when outhitting the opposition, including a perfect 7-0 when posting 10 or more hits.
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester got the game off to a fast start in the top of the first inning, lacing a triple into the left center field gap off NCCU starter London Booker (5-3). An RBI ground out to the circle by senior co-captain Jenna Simon scored Wester from third base, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
Following a full-count walk later in the inning to senior Katey Haus, junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi connected on her second home run in as many games, crushing a two-run shot to straightaway center to extend the Irish advantage to 3-0. Singles by senior Cassidy Whidden and senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner pushed the Irish cushion to 4-0.
Junior Allie Rhodes (6-3) motored through the NCCU half of the inning during the bottom of the first. Casey Hargett grounded out to Simon at second base, Jenny Tracy struck out swinging and Emerie Germ grounded out to Arizmendi at first base to retire the Lady Eagles side in order.
Back-to-back bunt singles from Wester and Simon opened the Notre Dame top of the second inning. While trying to put Simon out at first base, an errant throw by Booker rolled into the right field corner and allowed Wester to score all the way from second base (5-0). An Arizmendi sacrifice fly to left field two batters later enabled Simon to tag up at third, upping the Notre Dame margin to 6-0.
Rhodes kept her momentum rolling in the circle during the home half of the second. A ground out to third base and a pair of swinging strikeouts by Kayle Brueck and Demi Briones sat NCCU down 1-2-3.
Freshman Sara White drilled her second double of the day into left field with one out in the top of the third inning, advancing to third on a bunt single from junior Carly Piccinich. Junior Megan Sorlie deposited an RBI single into right field one batter later, scoring White to up the Notre Dame lead to 7-0. Wester followed with her third hit of the game against Booker, a hard slap to shortstop, to bring Piccinich across the plate (8-0).
Whidden upped the Irish lead in the top of the fourth inning with a moon shot to left field against NCCU reliever Dominque Wilson. Whidden’s third home run of the year put Notre Dame in front 9-0.
Wester led all Notre Dame offensive players with a 3-for-3 outing at the plate, adding an RBI and two runs. The sophomore left fielder leads all Irish batters with 13 multiple-hit games in 23 starts, and Wednesday’s contest was her team-high fourth three-hit game of 2015. Whidden, White and Piccinich each chipped in two hits apiece, while Arizmendi paced the Notre Dame lineup with three RBI.
It was another three-up, three-down inning for Rhodes and the Notre Dame defense in the bottom of the fourth. Germ grounded out to the circle, Wilson grounded out to first base and Brueck chopped out to third base.
Rhodes scattered two hits over four innings, striking out four NCCU batters on 54 pitches. The Notre Dame southpaw has now earned a victory in four of her past five decisions.
Freshman Katie Beriont tossed a scoreless top of the fifth inning to close out the Notre Dame win. Birones grounded out to freshman Morgan Reed at shortstop, Martha Batie was retired on a ground ball to Arizmendi at first and Markel Wylie ended the contest with a chopper to Simon at second base.
Notre Dame resumes Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play this weekend, traveling to No. 9/10 Florida State for three games at Joanne Graf Field in Tallahassee, Florida.
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