April 12, 2017
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Answering the bell after a four-run counterpunch from IUPUI in the top of the sixth inning, the University of Notre Dame softball team responded with an eight-run haymaker of its own to walk-off the visiting Jaguars 13-4 in six innings on Wednesday night at Melissa Cook Stadium.
How It Happened
Notre Dame (23-15) starter Rachel Nasland worked around two IUPUI (15-22) singles with two swinging strikeouts in the top of the first inning. The final strikeout stranded two Jaguar runners aboard.
The Irish quickly gained the lead in the bottom of the first. Ali Wester legged out a one-out double on a looping hit to center field to start the sequence. Morgan Reed followed with an RBI single through the right side, plating Wester for the 1-0 Notre Dame advantage.
It was another three-up, three-down inning for Nasland in the top of the second frame. A swinging strikeout, a flyout to right field and a lineout to second base ended the IUPUI ups.
Notre Dame padded its lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Kimmy Sullivan led off with a double down the left field line. Sara White crushed a two-run home run two batters later, depositing the ball into the bleachers in left field. White’s second home run of the season put the Irish ahead 3-0.
Nasland kept the momentum rolling with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third against the IUPUI offense. A strikeout, flyout and groundout were all the Jaguars could muster in their ups.
Sullivan led off an inning with a double for the second time on the day, ripping a two-bagger down the line in left to open the home half of the fourth. White followed up with an RBI single up the middle that brought Sullivan across for the 4-0 Notre Dame lead. Ali Wester then muscled an RBI base hit through the right side later in the inning to score White (5-0).
IUPUI woke up the bats in the top of the sixth inning, clawing within one run thanks to a two-run home run and consecutive RBI singles with one out, and all of a sudden it was a 5-4 ballgame. Nasland rebounded with a backward K and by forcing a popout to Katie Marino at second base to leave the bags full.
Notre Dame responded with one of its most dynamic offensive halves of the year to close the game in the bottom of the sixth. Marino and White each singled through the infield to get things started, and Alexis Bazos laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. It would be the final Irish out of the evening.
Karley Wester slapped an RBI single up the middle one batter later that scored Marino for the 6-4 Notre Dame lead. Ali Wester followed by driving in White on the first pitch she saw to up the host’s advantage to 7-4. Reed walked to load the bases, setting up Caitlyn Brooks for a two-run single that scored pinch runner Bailey Bigler and Ali Wester (9-4). Melissa Rochford did not pass up the RBI chance either, bringing Reed home with a single up the middle to push the Irish in front 10-4. Sullivan put an exclamation point on the eight-run inning, crushing a three-run home run deep and gone to left field. Sullivan’s third long ball of the season closed the night’s scoring at 13-4.
Notre Dame’s eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning secured the most runs (13) and hits (16) for the Irish in a game thus far in 2017 – It was the second time Notre Dame has scored eight runs in an inning this season, and the first since the Irish opened with eight runs against Chattanooga on March 5 … Karley Wester successfully stole her 117th career base in the bottom of the second inning to pass baseball great Steve Stanley (1999-2002) as the all-time Notre Dame softball/baseball leader in stolen bases … Five Notre Dame players finished the game with multiple hits, including Ali Wester, Kimmy Sullivan and Sara White with three each – Sullivan and White each tied career-highs in hits, while White equaled her previous best in RBI (3) for a single game … In her last 10 starts, Sullivan is batting .438 with a team-high eight extra-base hits, 11 RBI and a .781 slugging percentage … Notre Dame improved to 9-1 at Melissa Cook Stadium this season, and has outscored foes a combined 68-26 in those contests.
The Irish return to Raleigh, North Carolina for the second time this season, and are set for a Friday-Saturday Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series with NC State at Dail Stadium. All three games will air live on ACC Network Extra.
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.