April 1, 2017by Tony Jones
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A two-run rally in the top of the seventh inning, with both runs scoring on a Melissa Rochford single to center, capped a 5-4 rally for the University of Notre Dame softball team over Louisville on Saturday at Ulmer Stadium. The defeat was the first setback for the Cardinals in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play in 2017.
How It Happened
Notre Dame (18-13, 5-5 ACC) picked up its first hit early in the top of the first inning after an Ali Wester single to the gap in left center field. Wester moved into scoring position with a ground ball to shortstop, but a deep flyout to left kept the runner stranded aboard.
Louisville (20-9, 4-1 ACC) leapt in front with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, taking the quick 1-0 lead. Irish starter Rachel Nasland shook off a follow-up single by forcing a popout to first and a lineout double play to second to get out of the opening inning.
Notre Dame took the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third inning. An RBI single for Morgan Reed and a run-scoring groundout for Caitlyn Brooks to plate Ali Wester vaulted the Irish ahead of Louisville 2-1.
The Cardinals answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth frame to reclaim the lead. Two Notre Dame errors pushed across the tying and go-ahead Louisville runs for a 3-2 advantage.
Louisville added a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend its lead to 4-2. Nasland escaped the inning with a foulout to third base.
Notre Dame chipped away at the Louisville cushion in the top of the sixth. Brooks walked to open the stanza, and a single through the left side by Melissa Rochford moved pinch runner Bailey Bigler to second base. A sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, where a Louisville fielding error enabled Bigler to score from third to trim the deficit to 4-3.
Notre Dame reclaimed the edge in the top of the seventh inning. Karley Wester clocked a leadoff single through the left side, ultimately taking second base on a groundout. With two outs and runners at second and third base, Rochford drilled a 2-0 pitch to center that scored both Wester and Reed to vault the Irish ahead 5-4.
Katie Beriont worked around an error in the bottom of the seventh inning to shut the door in her second shutout inning of work out of the Notre Dame bullpen. A huge play by Beriont on the mound to throw out the lead runner at second base for the second out deflated the Louisville rally. The game ended with a flyout to right field to leave a runner aboard.
Notre Dame won its fourth straight game in ACC play, and its second consecutive league game on the road ... The Irish picked up their first win at Ulmer Stadium since a BIG EAST Conference series victory against Louisville in 2010 ... Melissa Rochford delivered her second two-RBI, game-winning hit with two outs in the top of a seventh inning this season - Rochford struck for a two-run double in a similar spot against FIU on March 4 ... Ali Wester notched her team-high 12th multi-hit game of 2017 with a pair of base knocks against Louisville.
The Irish and Louisville collide in game two of a three-game ACC set on Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET) 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.