April 19, 2014
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Pitching was the key for the University of Notre Dame softball team in its two wins on Friday over Virginia, but it was the offense that kicked into another gear during the series finale between the teams. The No. 21/22 Irish tallied 18 hits on their way to securing an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sweep with a 15-8 win over the Cavaliers on Saturday at The Park.
"Virginia took what we gave to them, they did a great job of taking what we gave to them," Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said. "They were going to go down swinging, and were so overly aggressive that it finally worked in their favor in the fourth inning. The coaches wanted them to swing, they made something happen in the fourth, but we came back and it was fine."
Sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi tied a Notre Dame (29-9, 9-4 ACC) program record with five hits during a 5-for-5 day, contributing five RBI and a run scored. Arizmendi finished the series 9-for-11 (.818) with three doubles, one home run, eight RBI and four runs in three starts.
"I was focused on hitting the ball up the middle," Arizmendi said. "I knew that they were going to throw me a lot of changeups, so I was trying to hit early in the count, avoid the changeup.
"(During the series) I was landing and getting my front foot down, and being aggressive early in the count," Arizmendi added. "Usually, I am more successful when I do that."
Junior All-American Emilee Koerner reached base safely in all four plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and four runs scored. Koerner's four runs also tied a Notre Dame program mark.
"The top of the lineup was just tough to get out," Gumpf said. "We were hitting the ball really well. Luckily this was a day where we needed to hit really well, and we did."
Freshman Karley Wester and junior Jenna Simon both worked four-pitch walks against Virginia starter Marcy Bowdren (0-4) in the top of the first inning. Koerner laid a nice sacrifice drag bunt down the first base line to advance both runners into scoring position. Arizmendi then crushed a two-out single that struck the pitcher Bowdren's leg and carried into right field, scoring Wester and Simon to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.
"I've just been more relaxed this year," Arizmendi said. "If I make a mistake, I just shake it off. Also, I have focused on hitting the ball hard even if it is an out, and scoring runs, most importantly."
On the second pitch from senior Laura Winter (18-4) in the bottom of the first, Cavalier leadoff hitter Heidi Velk crushed what looked to be a sure double to the gap in left center field. Koerner made a terrific catch on her horse from center, laying out full extension near the warning track to rob Virginia (6-38, 1-22 ACC) of an extra base hit. A groundout to Arizmendi at first base by Iyana Hughes and a strikeout swinging by Katie Park ended the Virginia half.
Junior Cassidy Whidden needed to see just one pitch from Bowdren in the top of the second inning, drilling a no doubt solo home run over the wall in straightaway center, to up the Irish cushion to 3-0.
Three straight fly ball outs for Virginia allowed Winter to post a scoreless bottom of the second inning. Senior Lauren Stuhr made a nice diving grab in right field for the third and final out.
Koerner led off the top of the third with her 18th double of the season, grooving Bowdren's first offering of the inning off the wall in center field. After junior Katey Haus reached base due to a fielding error, Arizmendi added her second run-scoring single through the right side, plating Koerner from second base to extend the Notre Dame advantage to 4-0.
Winter struck out the side swinging in the bottom half of the third inning, retiring Taylor Sarcone, Karli Johnson and Bowdren on strikeouts.
Three straight singles from Stuhr, Wester and Simon loaded the bases with one out. A passed ball with Koerner at the plate allowed pinch runner Monica Torres to score from third base (5-0). Koerner drew a four-pitch walk to reload the bases, and a Haus hit by pitch brought Wester across for a 6-0 Notre Dame lead.
Arizmendi continued her hot day at the plate, as an RBI double down the left field line scored two more runs, upping the lead to 8-0 Irish. Whidden added her second long ball of the game two batters later, crushing a three-run shot down the left field line to clear the bases (11-0). A solo home run one batter later by senior captain Chloe Saganowich to dead center capped the inning's scoring at eight runs, making it 12-0 Notre Dame.
Virginia struck back in the bottom of the fourth inning, as a double off the wall by Lindsay Mayer scored the first Cavalier run of the day (12-1). A two-run home run from Megan Harris two batters later chased Winter with Notre Dame in front 12-5. Freshman Rachel Nasland came on in relief and escaped the inning with a strikeout and ground ball out to end the wild frame.
Notre Dame put the pedal down in the top of the fifth inning, plating a pair of runs off Virginia reliever Aimee Chapdelaine. RBI singles from Koerner and Haus re-upped the Irish lead to nine runs at 14-5.
Virginia added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to keep the game alive, but Allie Rhodes inherited the bases loaded with nobody out and retired the side without allowing a run, bailing the Irish out of the jam at 14-7.
After Virginia added a run in the bottom of the sixth, Koerner crushed her second double of the ballgame to lead off against Chapdelaine in the top of the seventh inning. Arizmendi then tied the Notre Dame single-game hits record with an infield single that advanced Koerner to third base. Winter cashed in the RBI opportunity with a single through the left side, extending the Irish lead to 15-8.
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant