April 13, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame softball team nearly claimed two comeback victories over national power Florida State on Sunday, splitting with the Seminoles during the first official Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The No. 23/25 Irish (25-9, 6-4 ACC) scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning of game one to stun the No. 7/8 Seminoles (39-6, 16-3 ACC) 8-5, before Florida State rallied for six runs in the final three innings to down Notre Dame 9-7 in nine innings during the nightcap.
Notre Dame's victory in game one was the program's 22nd all-time win against a top 10 opponent, and the team's highest ranked opponent defeated since a 3-2 win over No. 4 Nebraska on April 23, 2002. Head coach Deanna Gumpf also tied former baseball coach Paul Mainieri for second place on the all-time Notre Dame wins list for baseball and softball coaches with career victory number 533.
"Our hitters just brought it today," Gumpf said. "We had great base running, made things happen, and we did it all day long. We played well enough to win two today."
Notre Dame closed the day with a 15-14 run advantage in a matchup of the ACC's two premiere offensive teams, along with 22 hits (five for extra bases) and 12 RBI. Irish base runners were also a perfect 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts.
Freshman Karley Wester led all Notre Dame hitters with a combined 7-for-9 (.778) day at the plate, adding two stolen bases and two runs. Junior Katey Haus smashed a sixth-inning grand slam in game two for the Irish, while sophomore Micaela Arizmendi chipped in a .667 batting average (4-for-6) with a home run and three RBI.
"Our offense did such a great job, but honestly, our defense was solid," Gumpf said. "We played two great games, but the pitching staff got behind, and when we got behind, we didn't do our job on the mound. We have three pitchers who are capable of getting ahead and making things happen the way they want to, and that didn't happen."
Both teams are scheduled to meet in the rubber match on Monday at Melissa Cook Stadium. Notre Dame will look for its second straight ACC series win, and first ever ACC set victory at home.
"(The key tomorrow is) get ahead, attack their hitters," Gumpf said. "And continue to not change how we are playing defensively. We also want to keep hitting the ball on the ground."
Game One - #23 Notre Dame 8, #7 Florida State 5
Simon picked up the first Notre Dame hit of the ballgame, chopping a single over the head of the Florida State third baseman Brianna Hamilton. Seminoles ace Lacey Waldrop (26-4) forced consecutive ground outs to stall the Irish half.
The Seminoles had a runner reach after a single in the top of the second inning, but a fielder's choice to junior Katey Haus at third base and a hot shot line drive from Courtney Senas to senior captain Chloe Saganowich at shortstop kept Florida State off the scoreboard.
Sophomore Micaela Arizmendi was hit by pitch to open the bottom of the second, and a fielding error allowed pinch runner Monica Torres to move to second and Winter to reach first safely one batter later. Junior Cassidy Whidden successfully moved the runners up on the base paths with an infield groundout. A fielding error on a sharp grounder to short by Saganowich scored Torres and Winter to give Notre Dame a 2-1 lead. Freshman Karley Wester followed two batters later with a crucial infield single, scoring Saganowich to up the Irish lead to 3-1.
National player of the year candidate Maddie O'Brien got the Seminoles back into the contest with a mammoth solo home run in the top of the third inning, touching them all to close the gap to 3-2 in favor of Notre Dame. Hensley tied the game with a solo shot of her own into the field bleachers (3-3) before the half inning was complete.
A leadoff slap single from Simon off Waldrop began the bottom of the third inning, before Simon advanced to second base on a successful steal attempt. Junior All-American Emilee Koerner cashed in the RBI opportunity, roping her 14th double of the season to score Simon and give Notre Dame a 4-3 lead. Arizmendi followed with an RBI single two batters later to the gap in left center, plating Koerner from second base (5-3).
Haus made a terrific diving stab on a sharp grounder from Senas with two away in the top of the fourth, making the turn at first to escape the inning unscathed for Notre Dame.
O'Brien uncorked her second home run of the day, another of the solo variety to right field, to trim the margin to 5-4. A two-out RBI double to center by East tied the game at 5-5.
The Irish loaded the bases against Waldrop in the bottom of the sixth inning following two-out infield singles from Wester and Simon. An intentional walk to Koerner loaded the bases with two away. A throwing error by the shortstop O'Brien on what could have been an inning-ending ground ball left Haus safe at first base, scoring Wester and Simon to give Notre Dame a 7-5 edge. A double down the left field line by Arizmendi scored Koerner to make it 8-5 in favor of the Irish.
Game Two - #7 Florida State 9, #23 Notre Dame 7 (nine innings)
Florida State got on the board in the top of the second, as Tiffani Brown laced an RBI single up the middle to score Celeste Gomez and make it 1-0 Seminoles. Irish starter Allie Rhodes (5-4) forced Courtney Senas to fly out to Emilee Koerner in center field to leave the bases loaded with Florida State runners.
Arizmendi stung a single up the middle off Florida State starter Jessica Burroughs in the bottom of the second inning, and Laura Winter worked a full-count walk to move the lead run into scoring position with one out. Burroughs retired the next two Notre Dame hitters in order to strand a pair on the base paths.
Rhodes posted a 1-2-3 frame in the top of the third, forcing Maddie O'Brien and Schinella to ground out to third base and Kelly Hensley to ground out to shortstop to cap the Seminole half of the inning.
Florida State went quietly again in the top of the fourth inning, as a two-out walk drawn by Alex Kossoff was the only Seminole base runner to reach safely. Rhodes picked up her first strikeout of the contest, punching out Brianna Hamilton swinging for out number three.
Arizmendi tied the game with a tomahawk swing on a 2-1 Burroughs pitch over the wall in straightaway center in the bottom of the fourth, squaring the game with her eighth home run of the season (1-1) A single from Winter was the last damage of the Notre Dame half, as Burroughs retired the remainder of the Irish side.
The Seminoles reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth, as Senas hit a solo home run to right center field to put Florida State in front 2-1.
Senior Lauren Stuhr opened the bottom of the fifth inning with a leadoff double to the gap in right center field, and advanced to second base on an infield single from Karley Wester. An infield hit for Jenna Simon loaded the bases full of Notre Dame base runners. A sacrifice fly from Koerner to left field allowed Stuhr to tag and score, tying the game at 2-2.
Florida State retook the lead in the top of the sixth, as an infield single for Kossoff upped the Seminole advantage to 3-2. Saganowich turned a nifty double play on a hard hit line drive to shortstop to end the surge one batter later.
With two runners on and one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Wester came through with a hard-hit, high chopping single into right field, scoring Cassidy Whidden to tie the game at 3-3. After a Burroughs strikeout, Koerner was intentionally walked to load the bases. Facing a 2-1 count, Katey Haus rocketed a bases-clearing grand slam over the left field wall, stunning the Seminoles and vaulting Notre Dame in front 7-3.
O'Brien cut into the Irish lead in the top of the seventh, grooving a sacrifice fly into foul ground down the left field line to allow the runner Brown to tag up at third base to make it 7-4. A double off reliever Rachel Nasland from East scored Senas and brought Florida State within two at 7-5. Celeste Gomez tied the ball game with a two-run single to left field (7-7).
Florida State took the lead for good in the top of the ninth inning, as a pinch-hit, two-run single from Alex Powers plated two runs and gave the visitors the edge back at 9-7.