April 14, 2017
by Tony Jones
RALEIGH, N.C. - A three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning of game one by Morgan Reed flipped the day on its head for the University of Notre Dame softball team. Reed's home run powered the Irish to a 4-3 comeback against NC State in the opener before Notre Dame shut down the Wolfpack 5-0 in the nightcap Friday night at Dail Softball Stadium.
How It Happened
Notre Dame (25-15, 10-7 ACC) found its first run of the ballgame in the top of the first inning. Ali Wester reached by way of a one-out single, and took second by way of a stolen base. Caitlyn Brooks drove Wester in with an RBI double to the gap in right center to give the Irish a 1-0 advantage.
NC State (15-27, 8-6 ACC) tied the game with a solo home run in the bottom of the first, squaring the game at 1-1. Rachel Nasland shook off a subsequent single and walk by forcing a foulout to Madison Heide behind the plate, and a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play that went Morgan Reed to Katie Marino to Sara White.
Nasland worked through a quick three-up, three-down bottom of the second inning against the NC State order. A foulout to left, a swinging strikeout and a popout to Reed at shortstop retired the Wolfpack 1-2-3.
NC State took the lead with its second home run of the day, driving a two-run shot out of the park in the bottom of the third inning for a 3-1 Wolfpack edge. Heide made a nice play on a pitch in the dirt to throw out a runner at second base later in the frame to end the inning.
Notre Dame loaded the bases in the top of the fourth inning, but a fielder's choice groundout with two outs on the scoreboard left the bags full.
The Irish surged back ahead in the top of the seventh inning. Alexis Bazos led off with a pinch-hit single to left center, and moved along on a Karley Wester infield bunt single. Reed delivered in the clutch two batters later, crushing the first pitch she saw over the wall in straightaway center. Reed's third home run of the season vaulted Notre Dame in front 4-3.
Nasland slammed the door on NC State in the bottom of the final inning. A pair of ground ball outs to Reed at shortstop and pop out to Melissa Rochford at third base ended the Notre Dame victory.
Notre Dame manufactured a pair of runs to begin the top of the first inning in game two. Karley Wester opened with a double to right center field and Ali Wester followed with an infield bunt single to third base. Morgan Reed drove a sacrifice fly to center and Caitlyn Brooks a sacrifice fly to right field to score both Westers for the 2-0 Irish advantage.
Katie Beriont got off to a fast start against the NC State order in the bottom of the first. Two strikeouts swinging by the Wolfpack bats ended the frame 1-2-3 for the Notre Dame left-hander.
Beriont worked around a two-out walk in the bottom of the second frame to keep NC State off the scoreboard. A ground ball out to second base closed the Wolfpack ups.
Kimmy Sullivan jumpstarted the Notre Dame offense herself in the top of the fourth stanza. Sullivan smashed a line drive over the wall in left center field with a 1-1 count and one out, and her fourth long ball of the year put the Irish ahead 3-0.
NC State loaded the bases by way of two singles and a walk with one out in the bottom of the fourth to do its first damage of the game against Beriont. The Notre Dame starter was undeterred, snatching a hard grounder up the middle to start a 1-2-3 double play that ended the inning.
Beriont limited the NC State damage in the bottom of the fifth inning. Two ground balls to the circle and a hot shot to Katie Marino at second base capped the 1-2-3 stanza.
Maddie McCracken opened the top of the seventh inning with a sharp single through the right side, and pinch runner Alexis Bazos moved into scoring position on a ground ball out. Reed drilled her second home run of the day in the seventh inning, clubbing a pitch over the wall in left center field to push the Notre Dame lead to 5-0.
Beriont hammered down the win with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh inning. Groundouts to shortstop and first base, and a flyout to right field capped Beriont's second ACC shutout in as many starts.
The Irish and NC State will clash in the series finale on Saturday at noon (ET) at Dail Softball Stadium. Live coverage will be available 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.