Feb. 9, 2018
by Tony Jones
TEMPE, Ariz. – A rally from brief deficits became a hallmark for the University of Notre Dame softball team at the season-opening Kajikawa Classic on Friday at the Tempe Sports Complex. The Irish erased a late deficit in game one of the 2018 season to down Seattle 4-3, before ultimately bouncing back with an 8-3 decision in eight innings over Saint Mary’s in the nightcap.
No. RV Notre Dame (2-0) batted a sizzling .397 as a team in the season’s first day, holding opponents to a .196 clip by comparison. The Irish also won the extra-base hit battle by a count of 8-3 in the Friday sweep.
How It Happened
Alexis Holloway (1-0) got started with a dynamic first inning in her Notre Dame debut. Holloway retired the first three Seattle hitters she faced by strikeout, with the final of the looking variety, to jumpstart the Irish season.
A leadoff double looked to start the Seattle (0-1) cause in the top of the second, but Holloway settled back in from there. Three more swinging strikeouts left the Redhawk runner aboard the bases.
MK Bonamy broke through with the first Notre Dame hit of the season in the bottom of the second, ripping a one-out double to the fence in right field. A ground ball moved Bonamy to third base, but she remained stranded there.
After a solo home run gave Seattle a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, Notre Dame countered in the bottom half of the inning. Melissa Rochford reached with an infield single and later tagged up on a fly ball to right field. With the lead runner in scoring position Bonamy crushed her second double of the game, this time to center, to bring home pinch runner Ali Wester from second base and square the contest at 1-1.
Holloway held Seattle at bay in the top of the fifth inning to keep the game tied at 1-1. A groundout to the mound and a pair of swinging strikeouts sat the Redhawks down in order.
A two-run single with the bases loaded for Seattle in the top of the sixth inning pushed the Redhawks ahead 3-1. An Irish fielding error reloaded the bases with one away, but Holloway and the Notre Dame defense answered the challenge. A pop out to second base and a groundout to third base limited the damage.
Once again, the Irish responded in kind in the bottom of the sixth frame. Cait Brooks drove a one-out, full-count pitch over the fence in left field for her first home run of the season, closing the gap to 3-2. With two outs, Katie Marino ripped a single into right to keep the rally alive. Marino reached third base on a Holloway automatic double that skipped over the fence in center to set the table for Alexis Bazos. Bazos racked up the first two RBI of her career, lacing a single through the right side that cleared the bases and vaulted Notre Dame ahead for the first time at 4-3.
It was a 1-2-3 top of the seventh inning for Holloway to notch her first career victory. A ground ball out to third base, a comebacker to the circle and a harmless lineout to left field capped the Notre Dame rally.
St. Mary’s (Calif.)
Notre Dame offensive threats were quelled in each of the first two innings by Saint Mary’s (0-2). The Irish moved a pair of runners into scoring position with two outs in the top of the second frame, but were unable to push a run across.
Katie Beriont (1-0) fashioned three shutout frames out of the gate, gracefully maneuvering out of trouble in the bottom of the third inning. A Notre Dame error allowed a Saint Mary’s runner to reach second base, but a swinging strikeout and lineout to Katie Marino at second left the runner there.
Saint Mary’s broke through for the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-out RBI single to right, giving the Gaels a 1-0 lead. Beriont came back with a swinging strikeout to limit the damage from there.
The lead would be short-lived for Saint Mary’s. Maddie McCracken drew a walk with one out in the top of the fifth, and a wild pitch moved pinch runner Ellie Richards to second base. A bunt single by Alexis Bazos moved the lead runner to third base. Morgan Reed took hold of the opportunity, driving a three-run home run deep and gone to center. Reed’s first of the year made it 3-1 Notre Dame.
Saint Mary’s chipped in a run in both the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game at 3-3, loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Beriont worked out of the jam by forcing a groundout to third base to send the game to extras.
With the international tiebreaker in effect, Notre Dame put the game away in the top of the eighth. A sacrifice bunt by Abby Sweet moved placed runner Ali Wester to third base, where she remained after Chelsea Purcell was hit by a pitch. Marino saw just one pitch before depositing a three-run home run over the wall in left center. Marino’s first of the year made it 6-3 Irish. After three straight base hits, Melissa Rochford chipped in a two-run single to close the Notre Dame scoring at 8-3.
Morgan Ryan made her Notre Dame debut in the bottom of the eighth inning and quickly retired the Saint Mary’s side. Two strikeouts and a fly ball out to right field highlighted Ryan’s first Irish appearance in the circle.
Notre Dame has now been victorious in its first game of a season dating back to 2014, following Friday’s triumph over Seattle … Alexis Holloway struck out 12 Seattle batters over seven innings to earn the win in her first collegiate start – Holloway’s 12 strikeouts were the most for a Notre Dame freshman since Laura Winter fanned 12 Purdue batters on March 31, 2011 … Holloway’s 12 punch-outs are also believed to be the most by any Notre Dame freshman pitcher in a debut dating back to at least 1998 … Alexis Bazos drove in the first two runs of her Notre Dame career in the bottom of the sixth against Seattle, depositing a 2-1 pitch through the right side to score Katie Marino and Holloway for the winning Irish runs … MK Bonamy ripped a pair of doubles in three trips to the plate against Seattle, including an RBI two-bagger in the fourth inning, before adding a key double in the nightcap against Saint Mary’s … a total of seven of Bonamy’s 11 career hits have officially been recorded as doubles … Cait Brooks connected on the first Notre Dame home run of the season, notching a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth inning against Seattle – It marked the second time in Brooks’ career that she was responsible for the first Irish home run of a season, along with a three-run blast in the seventh inning of her Irish debut against No. 18 Kentucky on Feb. 12, 2016 … Katie Beriont established a career high with 10 strikeouts over seven innings, scattering five hits in the win over Saint Mary’s … Abby Sweet picked up the first two hits of her Notre Dame career against Saint Mary’s, while Morgan Ryan made her first career appearance by spinning a scoreless eighth inning.
The Irish resume the Kajikawa Classic on Saturday, beginning play against South Dakota at 1:30 p.m. (ET) in Tempe, Arizona.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball, men's soccer and swimming and diving programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.