March 15, 2014
BLACKSBURG, Va. – The University of Notre Dame softball team suffered its first series setback as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, falling by a pair of slim 5-4 and 3-2 decisions to host Virginia Tech Saturday at the Tech Softball Park. The Hokies claimed the three-game series with the wins, and game three between the teams is tentatively scheduled for noon (ET) on Sunday on ESPN3.
Sophomore Micaela Arizmendi paced the Irish offense during the doubleheader, batting .429 (3-for-7) with a pair of solo home runs and three RBI on the day. Senior captain Chloe Saganowich added a pair of base hits, including a double, and drove in one run, while junior All-American Emilee Koerner slugged her sixth home run (fourth leadoff) of the season to open the first game of the series.
Winter (12-3) took the loss in game one after allowing five earned runs over six innings, walking one and striking out five Virginia Tech batters. The defeat snapped her seven decision winning streak. Sophomore Allie Rhodes (4-3) tossed 5.1 innings after getting the start in game two, surrendering three earned with three strikeouts.
Game One – Virginia Tech 5, #22 Notre Dame 4
Junior Emilee Koerner wasted no time in putting the Irish on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning, crushing a 3-1 pitch from Virginia Tech starter Maggie Tyler over the wall in left center field for the early 1-0 Notre Dame lead. It was Koerner’s team-leading sixth home run of the season, including her fourth long ball to open a game, in 2014.
Senior Laura Winter ripped a laser double down the left field line with two outs, and advanced to third base when junior Cassidy Whidden moved her to third base with a single into left field. Sophomore Micaela Arizmendi made the most of the RBI chance, chopping an RBI base hit up the middle to score Winter and make it 2-0 in favor of the Irish.
Winter hung a second straight zero on the Virginia Tech (13-11, 4-3 ACC) side in the bottom of the second, striking out Dani Anderson swinging and Elizabeth Birle looking to offset a Hokie base hit, ending the home teams ups in the inning.
Junior Katey Haus ripped a one-out double to the gap in right center in the top of the third inning, but Tyler forced an Irish strikeout and groundout to second base to stand Haus in scoring.
A double down the left field line with two outs in the bottom of the third by Vanessa Gonzalez scored Kylie McGoldrick to bring Virginia Tech within one run at 2-1. A hard single by Katey Smith scored Gonzalez to tie the game at 2-2.
The tie did not last for long, as Arizmendi sent the third pitch she saw from Tyler in the top of the fourth inning deep and gone over the fence in left center field, moving Notre Dame back in front 3-2.
Winter retired the Virginia Tech side in the bottom of the fourth, forcing Bailey Liddle to pop up to the circle, Birle to strike out swinging and Kat Banks to ground out to Haus at third base.
Smith scored Gonzalez with two outs in the bottom of the fifth on a towering double to left field that eluded the glove of freshman Karley Wester, tying the game at three. Winter induced a pop up back to the circle from Amanda Ake to end the inning.
With the bases loaded against Kelly Heinz in the top of the sixth inning, Koerner did the job with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Megan Sorlie from third base (4-3). Notre Dame was unable to do any more damage, and stranded two runners on the bases.
Back-to-back solo home runs put Virginia Tech ahead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning at 5-4.
Game Two – Virginia Tech 3, #22 Notre Dame 2
Micaela Arizmendi continued her solid day after a dropped foul out by Virginia Tech catcher Katey Smith gave her new life in the top of the second inning. Arizmendi crushed a 0-2 pitch over the wall to opposite field, ringing up her second long ball of the day and giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
Cassidy Whidden followed with a stinging single up the middle one batter later, and senior Lauren Stuhr moved pinch runner Carly Piccinich into scoring position with a nicely executed sacrifice bunt. Captain Chloe Saganowich cashed in the RBI opportunity, lacing a double to right field off Hokie starter Maggie Tyler to score Piccinich and extend the Irish advantage to 2-0. Reliever Kelly Heinz (7-7) allowed Saganowich to move to third, but retired the Notre Dame half without any further damage.
Starter Allie Rhodes kept cruising along in the bottom of the second, surrendering one single but not before striking out Bailey Liddle swinging to end the frame.
Virginia Tech climbed back into the contest in the bottom of the third, as an RBI double to the left field gap by Amanda Ake scored Lauren Gaskill from second base to bring the hosts within one run at 2-1. A hit batsman with the bases loaded earned Dani Anderson a free RBI and scored Ake, tying the game at 2-2. Rhodes showed great heart to get through the jam, striking out Liddle swinging and getting Elizabeth Birle to ground out to shortstop to end the Virginia Tech surge.
A Notre Dame fielding error and a hard-hit single past shortstop gave Virginia Tech runners on with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Birle then crushed a pitch back at the rubber, but Rhodes made a nice stab to snag it out of the air, doubling off pinch runner Toni Erwin at first base.
Virginia Tech manufactured one final run to take the lead in the sixth, as Kylie McGoldrick laced a double to center that scored Gaskill from second (3-2).