PUERTO VALLARTA, Jal., Mexico – In just her eighth career pitching appearance for the University of Notre Dame softball team, Friday was the time to shine for Morgan Ryan. Ryan spun five solid innings for the Irish in the circle, newcomer Payton Tidd tossed a scoreless final two frames and MK Bonamy blasted a three-run home run to lead Notre Dame over Liberty 4-1 at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
No. RV Notre Dame (1-1) improved to 4-0 all-time against No. RV Liberty (1-1), derailing the Flames following their dynamic 13-3 win over BYU earlier in the day. Liberty, ranked as high as No. 22 nationally in certain polls, was limited to a mere 1-for-12 effort by the Irish pitching staff while runners were on the bases.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After a leadoff single, Notre Dame starter Morgan Ryan (1-0) settled in and retired the next three Liberty batters in order in the top of the first. It was more of the same for the Irish in the second inning, with three more outs on the infield to back up the sophomore right-hander.
The Notre Dame offense heated up in a big way in the bottom of the second. Caitlyn Brooks led off with a single to center, and Melissa Rochford followed with a single of her own through the middle. Facing a 1-2 count, MK Bonamy crushed a three-run home run deep and gone over the left field fence. Bonamy’s first homer of the year gave the Irish a 3-0 advantage.
Ryan threw up a third straight scoreless frame in the third, setting the table for the offense in the bottom of the inning. Brooks roped a two-out double to center, and ultimately scored on a Rochford RBI base knock one batter later to push the Notre Dame lead to 4-0.
It was a quick three-up, three-down inning for Ryan in the circle in the top of the fourth inning. She recorded a pair of putouts herself on ground balls back to the circle before forcing a strikeout swinging on a full-count offering.
Ryan would hang one more zero in the Liberty run column in the top of the fifth inning. After the Flames managed two singles during the stanza, a ground ball out to second base ended the threat.
In just her second career start, Ryan earned her first collegiate victory with five innings of five-hit softball, walking one and striking out one. Her five innings in the circle were also a career high.
A solo home run and single to lead off the Liberty sixth trimmed the Notre Dame lead to 4-1, but freshman Payton Tidd made an impactful first career appearance in relief in the circle. Tidd struck out the first batter she faced swinging, and following a walk induced a grounder to Katie Marino at second base. With two runners still on and a hard-hit ball headed up the middle, Marino dove through the air to her right and corralled the line drive for a huge out number three.
Tidd made an equally impressive field and throw of a bunt to open the top of the seventh inning for an out, and ultimately retired the Flames side for good on a ground ball to Marino at second for the final out.
Notre Dame wraps up play at the Puerto Vallarta Collegiate Challenge on Saturday with a pair of games against No. 9 South Carolina (11 a.m. ET) and No. 3/2 Washington (7 p.m. ET).