CLEARWATER, Fla. – The University of Notre Dame softball team raced out to a 3-0 lead on Sunday against Ohio State, and the Irish weathered a late Buckeye surge to claim a 3-2 victory on the final day of the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational.
No. RV/24 Notre Dame (4-6) capped off a stretch of nine straight Irish opponents either ranked or receiving votes in the two major national polls against No. RV/23 Ohio State (4-4). All four Notre Dame wins this season have come against ranked opposition.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Notre Dame scraped a run across in the top of the first inning. Melissa Rochford drilled a one-out double off the wall in center and two batters later MK Bonamy deposited an RBI double to right center to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Morgan Ryan strung together two impressive innings out of the gate, yielding only two hits but picking up a pair of strikeouts. A strikeout swinging and a foul out to Rochford at third base wrapped up Ryan’s strong start.
The Notre Dame offense got cooking again in the top of the fourth inning. Abby Sweet doubled to center field to lead off the frame, and Quinn Biggio brought her home with an RBI single up the middle to up the Irish edge to 2-0. Sarah Genz followed with a pinch-hit RBI base knock that plated Biggio (3-0).
Ohio State answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 2-2, but Payton Tidd (1-2) ended the rally with a foul ball out down the line at third base to erase two Buckeye baserunners.
It was a three-up, three-down inning in the bottom of the fifth. A fly out to center, a pop up to second and a swinging strikeout motored through the Ohio State order in the frame.
Alexis Holloway took over in the circle in the bottom of the sixth inning and held it together around two errors in the field with two outs to keep the intensity rolling. A foul ball down the line in left to Ali Wester kept the tying run aboard.
Ohio State attempted one more rally in the home half of the seventh inning. A leadoff walk and a fielding error put two Buckeyes on with only one out. Holloway remained undeterred and forced a ground ball out to second base and a pop up to third base to slam the door and claim a save.
Notre Dame is set to play four games at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic next weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Kissimmee, Florida.