CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The bats came alive for the Notre Dame softball team Saturday, as the Irish struck for 34 runs in three wins over Virginia at The Park on the UVA campus.
The Irish and Cavaliers played parts of three games after rain washed out the first game of the series Friday in the bottom of the fourth with Virginia leading 6-4. The Irish clawed back to win that contest, erasing a 10-4 deficit to win 14-10 in nine innings. The offense continued in a 13-2 win in six innings in game two, while wrapping the day with a 7-0 win in game three.
Payton Tidd picked up wins in both games one and two, totaling 10 innings pitched — including six in a complete game in the second contest — scattering nine hits and allowing five earned runs with five strikeouts and two walks. Alexis Holloway turned in six shutout innings in the third game, allowing just four hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Ali Wester led the Irish with seven hits with four runs and three runs batted in. The Irish had six other players with at least three RBI on the day: Cait Brooks (3-for-8, HR, 4 RBI, 5 runs), Melissa Rochford (4-for-12, 5 RBI, 2 runs), Katie Marino (4-for-9, 3 RBI, 6 runs), Abby Sweet (3-for-10, HR, 3 RBI, 3 runs), MK Bonamy (3-for-8, 2 RBI, 3 runs) and Sarah Genz (1-for-2, HR, 4 RBI). Emma Clark added six hits with two RBI and six runs.
Bottom 4 | In the continuation of the inning suspended by Friday’s rain, Virginia added an extra run to go up 7-4 when Abigail Barber poked an RBI single up the middle to score Erika Osherow, who was on second after reaching on a fielder’s choice before play was halted.
Bottom 5 | The Cavaliers added three runs on three hits and two Irish errors to extend their lead to 10-4.
Top 6 | Notre Dame got three back in the sixth, using two hit batters and a walk to their advantage. Ali Wester led off with a single to left before Katie Marino took a pitch to the leg to put runners on first and second for Cait Brooks. The senior slugger ripped a single up the middle to score the speedy Wester and moved to second on a fielder’s choice by Melissa Rochford. Abby Sweet reached on the second hit-by-pitch to load the bases, and MK Bonamy walked in Marino for an RBI. Chelsea Purcell then plated Brooks on a fielder’s choice to make it 10-7 before the Cavaliers worked out of the inning.
Top 7 | The Irish tied the game in the seventh as Cait Brooks tied the Notre Dame season record in home runs with her 17th of the season. After Emma Clark reached on an infield single and moved to second on a Wester groundout, Marino sent a single to left to drive in the run. Brooks then sent a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right center to tie the game.
Bottom 7 | Virginia threatened to walk it off, loading the bases with no outs after Morgan Ryan gave up a pair of hits and Payton Tidd walked the first batter she faced in relief. Tidd worked out of it, however, inducing a fielder’s choice to get the runner at home, striking out Tori Gilbert for the second out of the inning and forcing a groundout to second to end the inning and force extra frames.
Top 8 | The Irish loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t push the go-ahead run across as Marino struck out to end the inning.
Top 9 | Two hit batters and a walk loaded the bases for the Irish in the top of the ninth and Sarah Genz, pinch-hitting for Purcell, launched her second career home run — this one of the go-ahead grand slam variety — to give the Irish a 14-10 lead. The lead would hold as Tidd, who started the game on Friday, closed it out for her 18th win of the season.
Top 1 | The Irish batted around in the first as they struck for five runs, highlighted by a three-run home run to center by Sweet. Rochford added an RBI on an error by the shortstop, while Clark brought in the fifth run on an infield hit.
Bottom 1 | Tidd surrendered three straight doubles and a walk to open the inning, resulting in two Virginia runs before settling in and recording three straight outs to end the stanza. Tidd didn’t allow another baserunner until giving up a pair of singles in the bottom of the sixth inning, retiring 15 straight batters in that span.
Top 6 | The Irish erupted for eight runs in the sixth, plating seven before an out was recorded. Marino and Brooks drilled back-to-back RBI singles for the first two runs of the inning, and Rochford brought them home in short order on an RBI double to the gap in right-center. After a Virginia pitching change, Sweet reached on a fielder’s choice and Bonamy scored Rochford with an RBI double of her own. Sweet came home on an error, and Bonamy scored on Madison Heide’s single to right field. Clark rounded out the Irish scoring after another pitching change, singling to left to bring Biggio home.
Top 3 | With two outs, Clark slapped a single to left before stealing second for Wester, who picked up her first RBI of the weekend on a single to the left side.
Top 5 | The Irish added insurance when Marino blasted a double to the wall in center, scoring Clark and Wester with two outs to make it 3-0 in Notre Dame’s favor.
Top 6 | Notre Dame struck for four more runs in the sixth, starting the frame with back-to-back doubles by Sweet and Bonamy, with Sweet scoring on Bonamy’s shot. Holloway then doubled to bring in Bonamy. Clark legged out an infield single to put runners on first and third, then stole second before Wester smashed a triple to the right-field wall to bring the score to 7-0.