March 1, 2014
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The University of Notre Dame softball team surrendered just its second first inning run of the season on Saturday in the opening game of the day against Ohio State at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. Facing an early deficit, the No. 23 Irish proceeded to outscore their opponents 12-0 over the final 12 innings of play, coming back to defeat Ohio State 3-1 and shutting out Radford 9-0 in six innings at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Notre Dame has won 11 of its last 13 games, and improved to a perfect 4-0 at this season’s Citrus Classic. The Irish have outscored their opponents 23-6 to open the tournament, and hold a 14-5 edge in extra base hits.
Senior captain Chloe Saganowich, senior Lauren Stuhr and junior Jenna Simon led all Notre Dame batters with three hits on the day, with Stuhr chipping in two doubles and Saganowich one two-bagger. Junior Katey Haus added her first home run of the season and a team-high four RBI, while senior Monica Torres picked up an infield single and RBI in the nightcap against Radford.
Senior Laura Winter (8-2) tossed her second complete game of the weekend (78th of her career) against Ohio State, holding the Buckeyes to just two hits and no runs over the game’s final six innings. Winter allowed no walks and struck out six batters for her 91st career victory, one shy of tying Brittney Bargar (’09) for second place on the all-time Notre Dame wins list.
Sophomore Allie Rhodes earned the start in the second game of the day against Radford, tossing 3.1 innings of one-hit ball, walking four and striking out three. Freshman Rachel Nasland (2-0) entered with two runners on in the bottom of the fourth inning and took over from that point, hurling a scoreless final 2.2 innings with two strikeouts.
Notre Dame closes the 2014 Diamond 9 Citrus Classic Sunday with a noon (ET) first pitch against Omaha. The Irish and the Mavericks will meet for the first time in series history.
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Game One – #23 Notre Dame 3, Ohio State 1
Ohio State took a quick lead in the top of the first inning, as a two-out double from Caitlin Conrad and an RBI single off the bat of Erika Leonard put the Buckeyes in front 1-0. Irish starter Laura Winter forced Anna Kirk to foul out to left fielder Karley Wester to end the Ohio State half.
Senior captain Chloe Saganowich made a nice play on a line out from Cammi Pranti in the top of the third inning, quickly firing the ball to first base to double off Taylor Watkins. Winter then induced a Conrad fly out to center field to end the Ohio State half.
Junior All-American Emilee Koerner was the first Notre Dame runner to reach base in the bottom of the fourth inning, as a dropped fly ball in right field by Conrad allowed Koerner to cruise into second base. A sacrifice slap from Wester moved Koerner to third base, A sharp single past the shortstop by junior Katey Haus scored Koerner and tied the game at 1-1. A walk drawn by Winter gave Notre Dame two runners aboard with one out, but Ohio State pitcher Melanie Nichols (1-3) retired the next two Irish hitters in order to strand the runners in scoring position.
Winter retired the Ohio State (6-7) side in the top of the fifth, grounding pinch hitter Keelia Nester out to first base, striking out Watkins looking and inducing a Pranti groundout to Haus at third base.
The Irish finally broke through against Nichols, as senior Lauren Stuhr doubled to the gap in right center field to open the Notre Dame bottom of the fifth inning. A sacrifice bunt from Saganowich moved Stuhr to third base, where a Koerner double to right center two batters later gave the Irish a 2-1 lead. Wester then drilled the first pitch she saw from Nichols into left field for an RBI single, scoring Koerner (3-1).
Another 1-2-3 frame for the Notre Dame defense held the lead in tact in the top of the sixth. A Conrad pop out to the circle, a Leonard strikeout swinging and an Evelyn Carrillo grounder back to Winter retired the Buckeye side. Winter sat Ohio State down in order in the top of the seventh, striking out Kirk, grounding Nichols out to shortstop and striking out pinch hitter Jayla Saibene swinging.
Game Two – #23 Notre Dame 9, Radford 0 (six innings)
A leadoff bunt single for Emilee Koerner and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Karley Wester gave Notre Dame a pair of runners on with nobody out against Radford pitcher Rachael Walters (3-2). A sacrifice bunt from Katey Haus moved both players into scoring position, but consecutive Irish outs stranded both runners.
Notre Dame loaded the bases in the top of the second inning, as a Lauren Stuhr walked and back-to-back infield singles from captain Chloe Saganowich and Jenna Simon loaded the bases, but Walters against escaped the jam with infield putouts to strand all three runners.
Radford’s Summer Robinson picked up the team’s first hit of the game in the bottom of the second inning off Irish starter Allie Rhodes, but was ultimately doubled off trying to advance on a swinging strikeout in the dirt with Brittany Wratchford at the plate to end the inning.
Rhodes sat down the Highlander (3-6) order in the bottom of the third, striking Mackenzie Blackwell and Becky Mantei out swinging before forcing Nia Chiles to fly out to Megan Sorlie in right field.
The Irish fought onto the scoreboard in the top half of the fourth inning, after Simon laid down a bunt single to open the frame. A Koerner groundout to second base moved Simon into scoring position. A hot shot down the third base line by Wester kicked off the third baseman Wratchford, allowing Simon to score the first Notre Dame run and moving Wester to second base (1-0). After a Wester steal of third, Haus stroked a sacrifice fly to left field to extend the Irish lead to 2-0.
Radford chased Rhodes after a pair of one-out walks put runners on first and second base in the bottom of the fourth. Reliever Rachel Nasland got Robinson to line out right to Simon, who doubled off the runner at second base by flipping to Saganowich for a nifty inning-ending double play.
Nasland motored through the Radford order in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kayla Bishton lined out to shortstop, Wratchford popped up to Saganowich at short and Blackwell struck out swinging.
Notre Dame broke the game open in the top of the sixth, plating seven runs in the half. Saganowich started the surge off with a double off the left field wall on the first pitch of the inning against Walters. An infield single to the left side of the infield by Simon advanced Saganowich to third base. Following a Simon steal of second base, Koerner cracked a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Saganowich to extend the Irish lead to 3-0.
Wester followed with an infield single to shortstop, scoring Simon to up the cushion to 4-0. Haus followed with a towering two-run home run over the left field wall, clearing the bags and making it 6-0 Notre Dame. The home run was the first of the season for the Irish third baseman.
After Sorlie worked a full-count walk and stole second base, an error on an Arizmendi ground ball plated Sorlie and kept the inning going (7-0). Singles from Stuhr and Saganowich loaded the bases for pinch hitter Monica Torres. An infield chop single from the senior outfielder scored Arizmendi for the eighth Notre Dame run of the night (8-0). Pinch hitter Kimmy Sullivan stepped in for Koerner, and the freshman infield picked up her first career RBI after being hit by a pitch, allowing Stuhr to score and make it 9-0 Irish.
Nasland shut Radford down in order in the bottom of the frame, earning her second career win by striking Julie Gardner out looking on a 3-2 offering to end the game.
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant