May 3, 2017
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A game-winning two-run double down the line at third by Morgan Reed was the latest clutch hit for the University of Notre Dame softball junior infielder. Reed's walk-off rip capped a late Irish comeback to stun Butler 4-3 on an emotional Wednesday night in the final 2017 nonconference game at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Notre Dame (30-19) wore its navy blue uniforms with orange accents in honor of Brody Stephens, an 8-year-old two-time leukemia survivor who died on April 29 as a result of a viral complication from his battle with pediatric cancer. Along with sporting their traditional Strikeout Cancer jerseys, belts and stirrups, the Irish adorned the Melissa Cook Stadium backstop with the saying `Brody Strong' in memory of the New Palestine native and Riley Hospital for Children patient.
-- Notre Dame Softball (@NDsoftball) May 3, 2017
How It Happened
Butler (20-28) earned the first hit of the game by smacking a double to the gap in right center field in the top of the second inning. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third base, but Rachel Nasland bounced back with a swinging strikeout and a ground ball out to second base to end the Bulldog half.
Notre Dame broke through for the first run of the ballgame in the bottom of the third. Karley Wester reached by way of a one-out infield single to the circle, taking second base on a successful steal. Caitlyn Brooks cashed in the RBI chance by ripping a single up the middle, plating Wester for the 1-0 Irish lead.
Nasland worked out of danger in the top of the fourth inning to stone the Butler order. The Bulldogs loaded the bases by way of a full-count walk with two outs, but the Notre Dame right-hander answered with a strikeout looking to turn Butler aside.
Butler erupted for three runs in the top of the sixth inning, thanks to a two-run home run and RBI single, to take a 3-1 lead. Notre Dame reliever Katie Beriont stranded two Bulldogs on the pond to limit the damage.
After Notre Dame scraped one run across to close the gap to 3-2 after six innings, Beriont went back to work in the top of the seventh. A two-out double and wild pitch was artfully erased by a swinging strikeout, leaving one Butler insurance run on.
The Irish rally began at the outset of the bottom of the seventh inning. Sara White continued her productive day with a leadoff single through the left side. A productive groundout moved White to second base, where she remained after Bailey Bigler was hit by a pitch. Bigler was later retired at second base on a fielder's choice by Karley Wester, but Wester not only beat the play at first, she later stole second with Morgan Reed at the plate and two outs on the board. Facing a full-count, Reed rocked her lone hit of the night past the bag at third base to bring both White and Wester around for the walk-off win.
Notre Dame closed the 2017 regular season a perfect 6-0 in nonconference home games, winning its second straight home midweek tilt in the bottom of the seventh inning (6-5 over Western Michigan on April 19) ... The Irish claimed their 13th win this season as a result of their final plate appearance of the game, including their ninth victory after entering the seventh inning tied or trailing, with the walk-off against Butler - Morgan Reed has been responsible for three of those winning hits herself, adding Wednesday's heroics to an eighth-inning grand slam at Georgia Tech (March 12, 8-6) and a three-run home run at NC State in the top of the seventh (April 14, 4-3) ... Sara White reached in all three of her official plate appearances on the night, scoring the tying run in the seventh inning - White's .421 batting average over her 16 starts at Melissa Cook Stadium (three home runs, 10 RBI, 10 runs) rank second on the Notre Dame roster in 2017.
Notre Dame closes the 2017 regular season at Melissa Cook Stadium with a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series against Boston College this weekend. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. (ET) Friday 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.