April 22, 2017
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Opportunistic offensive production that yielded 10 unearned runs for Virginia led the visiting Cavaliers to 6-3 and 12-6 victories over the University of Notre Dame softball team on Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play at Melissa Cook Stadium.
How It Happened
Rachel Nasland got off to a fast start in the top of the first inning against the Virginia (19-29, 7-13 ACC) order. A swinging strikeout and a strikeout looking balanced out a two-out walk, which was erased on a popout to Katie Marino at second base.
Notre Dame (27-17, 11-9 ACC) opened the scoring in the bottom of the first after a Virginia fielding error, allowing Ali Wester to reach and Karley Wester to score for the 1-0 Irish lead. Caitlyn Brooks chipped in an RBI single later in the frame to plate Ali Wester for the 2-0 Notre Dame edge.
Virginia took a lead it would not relinquish in the top of the second inning, riding a three-run home run, fielding error and RBI single to a 5-2 advantage.
Brooks entered in relief for Notre Dame in the top of the third stanza and battled back with shutout frames in the third and fourth. Virginia ultimately left the bases full in the third and two more runners on in the fourth without adding to the lead.
The Cavaliers did break through once more with an RBI double in the fifth inning (6-2), but Brooks stranded two more Virginia runners on to end the inning.
Melissa Rochford blasted off for a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, sending a long ball deep and gone to right center. Rochford’s fourth home run of the season trimmed the Notre Dame deficit to its final margin of 6-3.
Notre Dame erased a Virginia run in the top of the first by scoring four runs of its own in the bottom of the opening frame. Two-run home runs for Morgan Reed and Kimmy Sullivan to right field sent the Irish ahead 4-1.
Virginia found its second crucial three-run homer of the afternoon in the top of the third inning, drawing the game even at 4-4. Notre Dame starter Katie Beriont limited the Cavaliers to a lone single the rest of the inning.
Notre Dame re-took the lead in the bottom of the third. A two-out double for Caitlyn Brooks and an RBI single up the middle by Melissa Rochford lifted the Irish to a 5-4 edge.
Virginia responded with seven unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning to blow the game open at 11-5. Notre Dame would get a run back on the third home run of the season by Sara White in the bottom of the sixth (11-6), but the Cavaliers struck for a solo blast of their own in the top of the seventh to complete the scoring.
The Irish and Virginia face off in the series finale on Sunday at noon (ET) inside Melissa Cook Stadium.
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.