March 29, 2017by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A combined three-hitter tossed by Katie Beriont, Caitlyn Brooks and Rachel Nasland was the catalyst for the fifth straight win for the University of Notre Dame softball team on Wednesday night. The strong Irish pitching effort set the tone in a 1-0 nonconference shutout of Eastern Michigan at Melissa Cook Stadium.
How It Happened
Notre Dame (17-13) starter Katie Beriont motored through a three-up, three down top of the first inning. A collection of three strikeouts, the third of which was looking, sat Eastern Michigan (12-15) down in its half.
The Irish loaded the bases in the bottom of the first following an Ali Wester single, Morgan Reed walk and Melissa Rochford hit by pitch. A strong flyout to center field left the bases full for Notre Dame.
After Beriont strung together a second straight scoreless frame in the top of the second, Kimmy Sullivan opened the Notre Dame half of the second with a double to right center field. A Sara White sacrifice bunt moved Sullivan further into scoring position at third base, but two more Irish outs on the infield left the go-ahead run stranded there.
Caitlyn Brooks took the ball in relief in the top of the third stanza and held Eastern Michigan at bay. A two-out single to right field and full-count walk were erased on a line drive out to Sullivan in right field, leaving two Eagle runners aboard.
Brooks remained stellar in the top half of the fourth. With an Eastern Michigan runner on second after a walk and sacrifice bunt, the Notre Dame right-hander forced a pair of strikeouts looking to turn the Eagles away in their half.
Rachel Nasland found a pitching groove of her own after entering in relief in the top of the fifth inning. Nasland induced a strikeout looking and consecutive flyouts to Ali Wester in left field to sit Eastern Michigan down in order 1-2-3.
Notre Dame went on the offensive and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the fifth. Karley Wester led off with a four-pitch walk, stealing her second base of the day by cleanly taking second without a throw. Ali Wester moved her older sister to third base with a sacrifice bunt to set the table for Brooks, who cashed in the RBI chance with a sacrifice fly to left that put the Irish in front 1-0.
A leadoff single to second base was all that Eastern Michigan could muster against Nasland in the top of the sixth inning. Following a sacrifice bunt, Nasland forced a pair of foulouts to Rochford at third base to keep the shutout intact.
Nasland worked around a two-out single to right field in the top of the seventh inning to clinch the victory. With the go-ahead Eastern Michigan run at the plate, a flyout to Karley Wester in center on the first pitch of the at-bat ended the ballgame.
Notre Dame closed its opening homestand of the 2017 season a perfect 5-0 at Melissa Cook Stadium ... The shutout of Eastern Michigan was the first at home for the Irish this season, and the first Notre Dame nonconference shutout at Melissa Cook Stadium since an 8-0 win over DePaul in five innings on April 27, 2016 ... The Irish have won their last 24 nonconference midweek games at Melissa Cook Stadium dating back to the 2013 season ... Notre Dame earned its first 1-0 win over any opponent since blanking Pacific by that score on Feb. 20, 2014 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic - It was just the second 1-0 Notre Dame win ever at Melissa Cook Stadium, and the first since the third game in the history of the facility on April 14, 2008 against Rutgers ... Kimmy Sullivan registered her second straight two-hit game, and third in four starts, with a pair of base knocks against Eastern Michigan ... Karley Wester notched her 20th career game with two or more stolen bases by swiping a pair of bags against Eastern Michigan - Wester previously set the Melissa Cook Stadium single-game stolen bases record with three steals in her home debut as a freshman against the Eagles on March 26, 2014.
The Irish travel to Louisville for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) set this weekend. Game one is set for Saturday at noon (ET), game two for Sunday at 2 p.m., and game three for Monday at 7 p.m. inside Ulmer Stadium. Games two and three are scheduled to air on ESPNU.
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.