April 25, 2017
by Tony Jones
EVANSTON, Ill. – The University of Notre Dame softball team slammed on the gas pedal from the outset of Tuesday’s nonconference matchup with Northwestern and never let up. The Irish scored eight runs over their first three innings to jump start a 10-2 win in five innings over the Wildcats on a beautiful night at Drysdale Field.
How It Happened
Karley Wester opened the game with an infield single to third base, took second with a successful steal and moved to third on a bunt single from Ali Wester. A double-steal brought Karley Wester across the plate for the 1-0 Notre Dame (28-18) lead. After Morgan Reed walked on four straight pitches, Caitlyn Brooks deposited a three-run home run over the wall in right center. Brooks’ sixth home run of 2017 put the Irish ahead 4-0.
Brooks took the circle in the bottom of the first inning and walked three Northwestern (20-24) batters working against a rigid strike zone. A great play from Maddie McCracken to throw out a base stealer while standing at the backstop, a groundout back to the circle and a popout to second to leave two Wildcats aboard.
The Irish added a run in the top of the second. Karley Wester reached second base by way of a two-out Northwestern error to keep the inning alive. Ali Wester chopped an RBI single up the middle to plate her elder sister for the 5-0 Notre Dame cushion.
Northwestern tried to get its offense rolling in the bottom of the second with a one-out walk, but a great stab on a liner at first base by Sara White finished off an unassisted double play that took the wind out of the Wildcat sails.
A Kimmy Sullivan walk and Katie Marino single off the wall in left center set the table for Notre Dame in the top of the third inning. White made the Wildcats pay one batter later, blasting a three-run home run deep and gone to left center field. White’s fourth home run of the season upped Notre Dame’s lead to 8-0.
Northwestern answered with an infield RBI groundout to the left side of the Notre Dame infield in the bottom of the third, closing the gap to 8-1. Brooks continued her effective outing in the circle one batter later, forcing another grounder to Reed at shortstop to end the Wildcat ups.
Brooks followed with a scoreless bottom of the fourth frame. A lone Northwestern single was erased by a swinging strikeout and ground ball directly to White at first base.
Notre Dame effectively pushed the game out of reach in the top of the fifth. McCracken led off with a walk, but pinch runner Alexis Bazos was left standing on second after a pair of quick Northwestern outs. Reed came through with two away, ripping an RBI single through the right side to plate Bazos for the 9-1 Irish advantage. A Brooks double to the gap in left center drove Reed home from second base (10-1).
Rachel Nasland worked around a Northwestern solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to end the contest early. A diving stab at short by Reed, a swinging strikeout and a pop fly to Melissa Rochford at third base closed the ballgame.
Notre Dame earned its first victory in its sixth trip to Drysdale Field, and just its third run-rule win ever against the Wildcats in 22 meetings (10th overall win) … The Irish finished with 10 or more hits in a game for the 17th time this season, scoring 10 or more runs for the fifth different game … Caitlyn Brooks was one run batted in from tying a career-high with four against Northwestern, while Sara White equaled a career-high with three RBI on her home run in the third inning … Notre Dame’s first four hitters, the Wester sisters, Morgan Reed and Brooks, finished the game a combined 8-for-14 with six RBI and six runs scored.
Notre Dame hosts Southeastern Conference (SEC) foe Arkansas for a three-game series this weekend at Melissa Cook Stadium. The nonconference set will be part of the festivities for the program’s seventh annual Strikeout Cancer weekend.
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.