CLEARWATER, Fla. – Bouncing back from a defeat at the hands of No. 6 Tennessee during morning action, the University of Notre Dame softball team rode four runs in the third inning to shut out No. 20/17 Oklahoma State 6-0 on Friday at the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational.
No. RV/24 Notre Dame (3-4) earned its third win over a ranked opponent thus far in 2019 with the triumph over Oklahoma State (4-3), including its second over an NFCA top-20 foe. The Irish out-hit the Cowgirls 9-4 in the late contest, rebounding from an 8-0 defeat at the hands of Tennessee (6-0) to open the day.
HOW IT HAPPENED
ND vs. OK ST
Ali Wester led off the top of the first inning with a single through the left side, and a pitch hit Emma Clark to kick-start the Notre Dame offense. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position. Melissa Rochford drove Wester home on an RBI fielder’s choice to second to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. Katie Marino then dropped a perfect bunt single in front of the circle to bring Clark across (2-0).
Alexis Holloway (2-2) worked around a one-out walk with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the first. A swinging strikeout ended the Oklahoma State ups. It was three-up, three-down for Holloway and the Irish in the home half of the second inning. A groundout to the circle, a groundout to second and a strikeout swinging kept the Notre Dame momentum rolling.
The Irish upped the offensive stakes in the top of the third inning. RBI singles from MK Bonamy, Quinn Biggio and Madison Heide capped a four-run frame for Notre Dame, stretching the lead to 6-0.
Holloway ultimately erased a one-out single for Oklahoma State in the bottom of the fourth inning. A fly out to Ali Wester in left and a swinging strikeout held Oklahoma State at bay.
Some heads-up fielding for Notre Dame in the bottom of the fifth stalled another Cowgirl chance with runners aboard. Rochford and Bonamy earned a pair of outs on a 5-3-5 connection, and Holloway picked up a strikeout swinging for the final out of the stanza.
After Notre Dame loaded the bases and came away without any runs in the top of the sixth frame, Holloway and the Irish defense picked up the intensity in the bottom half. A one-out single moved a runner into scoring position, where a fly out to center and ground ball out to third stopped Oklahoma State in its tracks.
Holloway put an exclamation point on the victory with a three-up, three-down half in the top of the seventh inning. A strikeout swinging, a groundout to second base and a chopper back to the circle retired Oklahoma State 1-2-3.
ND vs. UT
Notre Dame loaded the bases in the top of the first with two outs following an Ali Wester single, Katie Marino walk and MK Bonamy walk. A swinging strikeout with two outs left the Irish runners on the pond.
An RBI single with two on for Tennessee in the bottom of the first inning gave the Lady Vols a 1-0 lead. Payton Tidd (0-2) responded in kind, forcing a strikeout looking and a ground ball out to third base to escape the frame.
Tennessee touched up the Irish pitching staff for three runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 4-0 advantage. Quinn Biggio made a nice play at shortstop to stab a liner up the middle for the final out of the Lady Vols ups.
Back-to-back walks drawn by Melissa Rochford and Marino kicked off the top of the third for the Notre Dame offense, but three straight outs picked up by the Tennessee defense stalled the Irish surge.
Notre Dame answered the challenge in the bottom of the third inning. Line outs to shortstop and a strikeout swinging erased the Tennessee order.
Tennessee scored two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to close out the game in five innings.
Notre Dame resumes the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational with two games on Saturday, facing No. RV Minnesota at 4 p.m. (ET) and No. RV California at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN3 inside the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex.