CLEARWATER, Fla. – In search of its second straight win over a top-five opponent, the University of Notre Dame softball team came up on the wrong side of a 6-2 decision against No. 3 Oklahoma on Thursday’s opening night of the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational.
No. RV/24 Notre Dame (2-3) was in search of a repeat win over Oklahoma (7-0), most recently downing the Sooners 5-4 in 2017 before Oklahoma won its second national championship in as many years. The Irish were fresh off a 3-2 triumph against No. 3/2 Washington last weekend in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Notre Dame halted an Oklahoma surge in the first inning, putting out a pair of runners on a 5-3 double play to erase a leadoff single. The Sooners connected on an RBI double to left center with two away, claiming a 1-0 advantage. Alexis Holloway (1-2) forced a lineout to third base to aid the Irish defense.
With a pair of runners aboard for Oklahoma in the top of the second, it was once again Holloway’s time to shine. She forced a strike three looking to hold two Sooner runners on the base paths.
After Oklahoma tacked runs on in the third and fourth innings to increase the lead to 3-0, Notre Dame attacked on offense in the bottom of the fourth. Ali Wester led off with a sharp single up the middle to bring Caitlyn Brooks to the plate. Brooks grooved a 1-2 pitch to center that carried the fence for a two-run home run. Brooks’ third of the year brought the Irish within one at 3-2. A double play following a Melissa Rochford single stalled the Notre Dame rally.
Just like that, an RBI double and two-run home run for the Oklahoma offense in the top of the fifth pulled the visitors forward at 6-2. Payton Tidd earned the final out of the inning by way of a grounder to shortstop.
Notre Dame resumes the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational with two games on Friday, facing No. 6 Tennessee at 10 a.m. (ET) on ESPNU and No. 20/17 Oklahoma State at 3 p.m. (ET) inside the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex.