March 12, 2017
by Tony Jones
ATLANTA - If the first two games of the series were any indication, a slugfest of epic proportions was likely to break out in Sunday's series finale between the University of Notre Dame softball team and Georgia Tech. An eighth-inning grand slam by Morgan Reed, part of her record eight RBI on the day, proved to be the difference in an 8-6 Irish win over the Yellow Jackets. The Notre Dame triumph closed a wild three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) set at Mewborn Field.
How It Happened
Georgia Tech (8-15, 2-4 ACC) took a 2-0 lead with a two-run home run following a Notre Dame error in the bottom of the second inning.
Morgan Reed did her part for the Notre Dame (11-10, 1-2 ACC) offense in the top of the third inning. After a one-out double for Ali Wester, Reed sent a two-run shot screaming over the wall in left field. Reed's first home run of the year tied the game at 2-2.
Following a scoreless inning of relief in the bottom of the third, Notre Dame starter Katie Beriont ran into trouble after back-to-back hits to open the bottom of the fourth frame. Rachel Nasland worked around a walk that loaded the bases to force three straight outs and get the Irish out of danger.
Notre Dame took its first lead of the game in the top of the fifth inning. Alexis Bazos opened with a pinch-hit single past the bag at third base, moving into scoring position on a Karley Wester infield single. A fielder's choice pushed both runners into scoring position with two outs, where Reed ripped a two-run single up the middle to clear the bags and put the Irish ahead 4-2.
A shutout inning for Nasland in the bottom of the fifth quelled the Georgia Tech momentum briefly, but the Yellow Jackets continued their weekend mantra and rallied for two runs on a home run in the home half of the sixth. Nasland showed great character in the face of adversity, striking out the next three Georgia Tech batters in order to keep the game tied at 4-4.
With the winning run on second base with one out in the seventh inning, Nasland again shut the door on the Georgia Tech offense. Back-to-back strikeouts sent the teams to extras for the third straight game.
Unlike on day one, the eighth inning belonged to Notre Dame. Madison Heide began the rally by reaching after a hard ground ball to the left side, and moved up on the bases after an artful Karley Wester bunt single. Caitlyn Brooks drew her team-high seventh walk of the weekend two batters later to load the bases with two outs for Reed. The Irish shortstop stayed alive at 3-2 and blasted her second home run of the day to opposite field over the wall in left, stunning the Yellow Jackets with the grand slam for an 8-4 Notre Dame lead.
Living by the power game throughout the weekend, Georgia Tech answered with a two-run blast of its own in the bottom of the eighth to trim its deficit to 8-6. Two walks, including the second with two outs, brought the winning Georgia Tech run to the plate in extras again, but Nasland forced a shallow fly ball to Karley Wester in center with two outs to end the wild series.
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech are believed to have played the first three-game series in Irish program history where each contest was decided in extra innings ... Morgan Reed established a Notre Dame program record with her eight RBI in game three against Georgia Tech, finishing the weekend a combined 6-for-14 (.429) with two home runs, 10 RBI and five runs scored ... Karley Wester moved into a tie with three-time All-American Emilee Koerner ('15) for the Notre Dame career lead in runs scored (196), and second on the all-time hits list with All-American Stephanie Brown ('07) at 277 ... All told, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech finished the weekend deadlocked at 23 runs scored apiece, on 69 combined hits. The Irish held a 6-3 edge in successful stolen bases.
The Irish travel to Georgia State for a Tuesday nonconference game while still in Atlanta. First pitch at Heck Softball Complex is set for 5 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday.
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 and men's soccer 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.