April 15, 2017
by Tony Jones
RALEIGH, N.C. – Early offense set the tone for the University of Notre Dame softball team in its Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series finale at NC State on Saturday. The Irish pitching staff took the ball and ran with it, bringing Notre Dame across the finish line with a 5-2 game three win and series sweep of the Wolfpack.
How It Happened
Notre Dame (26-15, 11-7 ACC) raced out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. Karley Wester reached by way of a full-count walk, and moved into second base on a sacrifice bunt. Morgan Reed followed with her third home run of the series, sending a 3-2 offering over the wall in left center field to bump the Irish ahead 2-0.
Two quick outs for Notre Dame starter Katie Beriont in the bottom of the first were countered with a walk and single to right field to place a pair of NC State (15-28, 8-7 ACC) runners aboard. A hard line drive out to left field held the Wolfpack duo on the pond.
A hard-luck hit by pitch and back-to-back NC State base hits with two outs in the bottom of the second inning tied the game at 2-2. Rachel Nasland entered in relief and forced a popout to Katie Marino at second for the final out of the frame.
Notre Dame leapt back in front in the top of the third inning. Ali Wester reached by way of a leadoff walk, and eventually took third base following a wild pitch. A fielding error on a hard-hit ball off the bat of Caitlyn Brooks brought Wester home for the 3-2 Irish edge.
Nasland shut it down in relief for Notre Dame in the bottom of the fourth inning. A flyout to left field, a swinging strikeout and a ground ball dragged to second base represented the NC State ups.
Notre Dame pushed two additional runs across in the top of the fifth. Ali Wester reached with a bunt single to third, and moved to second base on a Reed walk. Brooks deposited an RBI single into right center to score Wester for the 4-2 Irish lead. A sacrifice fly for Melissa Rochford later in the stanza allowed Reed to tag up from third base (5-2).
Nasland withstood the NC State order over the final three innings to secure the victory. The Wolfpack managed two singles in their last three ups, but were unable to officially advance a runner past second base.
Notre Dame won its fourth straight ACC series by posting a 3-0 mark at NC State – The Irish completed their first ACC series sweep at NC State with the three weekend wins, avenging a setback to the Wolfpack in 2015 at Dail Softball Stadium … Morgan Reed’s eight RBI led all players in the series, as three of her four hits left the park for home runs – Caitlyn Brooks chipped in an impressive 6-for-10 series with four RBI of her own … The Irish pitching staff held the powerful NC State batting order to five runs over 21 innings, posting a 1.67 team ERA.
The Irish return to Melissa Cook Stadium to host Western Michigan in nonconference play on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (ET). 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.