PUERTO VALLARTA, Jal., Mexico – A wild game met a wild ending to settle the showdown between the University of Notre Dame softball team and Washington on Saturday night at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. After the Irish had taken the lead, 3-2, in the top of the eighth inning, an incorrect substitution by the Huskies in the bottom of the frame resulted in the final out and a 3-2 Notre Dame victory.
MK Bonamy delivered the winning hit for Notre Dame (2-2), ripping an RBI single into right field in the bottom of the eighth inning to take the first Irish lead of the night over #3/2 Washington (1-1). The victory over the Huskies, the first for Notre Dame against Washington since Feb. 17, 2001 (also 3-2), was the 87th win for the Irish against a ranked foe in program history. The win over Washington was the first for Notre Dame against a national top-three foe in its history.
Bonamy (.300, one home run, four RBI) and pitcher Morgan Ryan (1-0, 1.11 ERA) were Notre Dame representatives on the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge All-Tournament Team.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Washington raced out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first following an RBI triple and wild pitch, but Payton Tidd weathered the storm by striking out the Huskies side in the inning.
MK Bonamy looked to kick start the Irish offense in the top of the second by drawing a one-out walk, moving to second base on an Abby Sweet sacrifice bunt. A grounder to third base ended the Notre Dame ups.
Tidd worked around an infield single in the bottom of the second to force a swinging strikeout and a fielder’s choice groundout to third base.
Tidd struck out the Washington side once more in the bottom of the third inning, offsetting a Notre Dame fielding error and holding the Huskies at bay.
Notre Dame threw its first hit on the board in the top of the fourth inning, when Melissa Rochford ripped a two-out single to right field. Washington was able to induce a force-out to second base on the following play to escape the inning.
A Notre Dame hit and error looked to get Washington back going in the bottom of the fourth, but Tidd responded by stranding both runners thanks to a fly ball out to left.
In her first career start, Tidd scattered five hits in four full innings of work, walking one and striking out a career-high eight batters on 83 pitches.
Alexis Holloway (1-1) took over in relief of Tidd in the bottom of the fifth and forced three straight outs on the ground to erase a leadoff Washington walk. Rochford, Katie Marino and Holloway herself starred in the field during the half inning.
The Irish tied the game thanks to an Ali Wester RBI single and a Rochford RBI fielder’s choice in the top of the sixth, leveling the score at 2-2. Sarah Genz led off the inning with a pinch-hit single, and Shelby Grimm ultimately advanced to third base on a Marino fielder’s choice thanks to a Washington throwing error. Wester ripped a single up the middle one batter later to score Grimm and pull Notre Dame within one (2-1). Caitlyn Brooks moved both runners into scoring position with a deep fly ball to right field, where a Rochford ground ball to the right side one batter later was beaten out at the plate by the speedy Marino.
Two ground outs back to Holloway in the circle and a strikeout looking were the highlights of the Notre Dame defensive half in the bottom of the sixth inning, holding Washington off the scoreboard once more.
Emma Clark led off the Notre Dame seventh inning with a sharp single to left field, and was later bunted into scoring position at second base by Holloway. Both Clark and Marino were ultimately stranded aboard, giving Washington final ups in regulation with the game still tied 2-2.
Holloway motored through the Huskies order in the bottom of the seventh, needing only seven pitches to retire the Washington side and send the game to extra innings. Holloway’s relief appearance spanned four innings with only one hit allowed, while she walked two and struck out one.
Notre Dame travels to the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational, available on the ESPN Family of Networks, from Feb. 14-17 in Clearwater, Florida.