May 7, 2017
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In a series that featured six momentum-shifting lead changes, this weekend’s three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) set between the University of Notre Dame softball team and Boston College was not short on drama. Deadlocked at 9-9 in the bottom of the seventh in Sunday’s rubber match, Notre Dame senior captain Karley Wester drilled a walk-off RBI single to complete a 10-9 Irish comeback in front of an energized Senior Day crowd at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Notre Dame (32-20, 13-11 ACC) earned the ACC series win two games to one over Boston College (31-21, 14-9 ACC), and secured the fifth seed in next weekend’s ACC Championship tournament. The fourth-seeded Eagles await the Irish in a rematch on May 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
How It Happened
A scoreless first inning between the teams opened the offensive doors for what would ultimately arise. Boston College scored four runs with two outs in the top of the second to open up a 4-0 lead. Katie Beriont entered in relief for Notre Dame and shut the door on the Eagles to quell the momentum.
Notre Dame began its climb back in the bottom of the third inning. Karley Wester reached on a one-out hit by pitch, and took second base on a sacrifice bunt. Morgan Reed picked up the first Irish hit of the day with an RBI single through the right side, scoring Wester to trim the deficit to 4-1. A Melissa Rochford single and Kimmy Sullivan walk loaded the bases for Katie Marino, who dropped a perfect two-run single down the line over the bag at first to close the margin to 4-3.
Boston College immediately answered with back-to-back home runs in the top of the fourth, extending its cushion back to four runs at 7-3. Beriont forced consecutive infield outs to battle through the end of the inning.
The fireworks continued for Notre Dame in the bottom of the fourth. Three straight singles by Maddie McCracken and the Wester sisters loaded the bases for Reed with one out. Reed laid off a 3-2 offering for the free RBI and the fourth Notre Dame run (7-4) thanks to a walk. An infield RBI single to third by Rochford scored Karley Wester to trim the gap to 7-5. Sullivan delivered in the next plate appearance with an RBI single to left to plate Ali Wester, and a Boston College fielding error also brought Reed home and tied the contest at 7-7. Entering as a pinch hitter with two outs Caitlyn Brooks blasted what, without the 30-plus mph wind gusts blowing directly in, would have been a no-doubt grand slam into the bleachers in left. Brooks still managed to drive a two-run single off the fence to score Sullivan and Marino for the 9-7 Irish edge.
A bases-loaded walk and an infield single to shortstop against the now pitching Brooks in the top of the sixth inning for Boston College tied the game once more at 9-9. Beriont re-emerged in relief and forced an inning-ending groundout to second to leave the bags full of Eagles.
Boston College managed one single in the top of the seventh on a rocket base knock back to Beriont that the Notre Dame southpaw was able to knock down and avert injury. After composing herself, Beriont forced a groundout to second base and a flyout to right field to send the game to the bottom half tied at 9-9.
Brooks wasted little time starting the offense in the bottom of the seventh, smashing a leadoff double off the wall in right center field. Representing the winning run, Brooks moved up to third base on a passed ball with one out, setting the table for Karley Wester. The Irish captain slugged a 2-0 pitch out to the warning track that sent Brooks home and clinched the series for Notre Dame with the 10-9 win.
The winning team in each game of the three-game series erased a deficit of three or more runs in victory, with Notre Dame overcoming a 4-0 and 7-3 scenario on Sunday after trailing 3-0 after the first inning on Friday … Notre Dame won in its final plate appearance of a game for the 14th and final time this regular season. Karley Wester was responsible for the fifth Irish walk-off in the bottom of a seventh inning with her RBI single that scored Caitlyn Brooks … Wester finished the weekend batting a team-high .636 with her game-winning RBI and two runs scored, while Melissa Rochford chipped in six hits of her own including a home run, six RBI and four runs scored. Morgan Reed added three RBI and scored a team-best five runs against Boston College.
Notre Dame and Boston College collide in the opening round of the 2017 ACC Softball Championship on May 11 at Anderson Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. First pitch between the Irish and Eagles is set for 1:30 p.m. (ET) on the Regional Sports Network (RSN).
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.