PUERTO VALLARTA, Jal., Mexico – The opening game of 2019 did not end the way the University of Notre Dame softball team envisioned. After Notre Dame wrestled a lead away from Duke late in the contest, the Blue Devils rallied for a 7-3 win over the Irish on Thursday to cap the opening day of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
No. RV Notre Dame (0-1) secured a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning over Duke (1-0), but a five-run rally for the Blue Devils in the sixth frame put the designated hosts over the top of the Irish.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Duke struck first in the bottom of the first inning, clocking a two-run triple to right field for the early 2-0 lead. Alexis Holloway (0-1) bounced back by forcing a ground ball out to shortstop to escape the frame.
The Notre Dame defense responded with a 1-2-3 bottom of the second. A groundout to the circle, a nice pick by Melissa Rochford at third base and a swinging strikeout forced by Holloway turned Duke aside.
Solid defense was the name of the game for the Irish once again in the bottom of the third. After catching a soft liner in foul ground for out number one, Rochford made a diving throw across the diamond to get a streaking Duke runner for the second out. A Holloway strikeout ended the inning and kept the momentum rolling.
Notre Dame got its offense going in the top of the fourth inning. Rochford reached on a one-out error, MK Bonamy singled through the left side and Quinn Biggio drew a full-count walk. In her first career plate appearance, Emma Clark ripped an RBI single to left to score Anna Grace Wagner and Bonamy, leveling the score at 2-2.
A two-out single for Duke stalled the Notre Dame defensive surge in the bottom of the fourth, but Holloway made a nice snag on a comebacker to retire the Blue Devil side.
Notre Dame claimed its only lead of the game in the top of the fifth. Ali Wester ripped a double to right center field against the slapper shift, and took third base on a fielding error in center. Abby Sweet reached by way of an infield single, and later took second on a stolen base. Caitlyn Brooks brought Wester home with an RBI groundout to the right side, pushing the Irish ahead 3-2.
Duke erupted for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to push the game out of reach at 7-3.
Notre Dame resumes the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge on Friday against No. RV Liberty at 1:30 p.m. (ET).