May 18, 2014
LOS ANGELES – Facing elimination, the University of Notre Dame softball team played with nothing to lose in its second game on Saturday at the NCAA Los Angeles Regional. The Irish set NCAA Championship program records with 10 runs scored and 16 hits in their second meeting of the weekend against Long Beach State, downing the 49ers 10-1 at Easton Stadium.
Notre Dame (41-12) will face national number three seed UCLA on Sunday at noon (PT) in the finals of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional. The Irish must defeat the Bruins twice in the double-elimination format.
In two games against Long Beach State (39-19), Notre Dame logged a .460 team batting average, a 29-9 hits advantage and an 18-1 aggregate run count. Eight Irish players had multiple hits against the 49ers during the Los Angeles Regional.
NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Top 10 finalist Karley Wester opened the game with a bunt single that stayed fair down the first base line in the top of the first inning. Junior All-American Emilee Koerner followed with an RBI double into the gap in right center field two batters later off Long Beach State starter Amanda Hansen (19-8), scoring Wester to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
After a Katey Haus ground ball out moved Koerner to third base, sophomore Micaela Arizmendi laced a two-out single through the right side, plating Koerner to give the Irish a 2-0 advantage. Senior captain Chloe Saganowich followed with a run-scoring base knock into left field, bringing Arizmendi across from third base (3-0).
Senior Laura Winter (29-6) retired Long Beach State three-up, three-down in the bottom of the first. Shayna Kimbrough flew out to Koerner in center field, and Cya Neal and Darian Tautalafua both grounded out to Haus at third base to complete the 1-2-3 defensive inning for the Irish.
Notre Dame quickly loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the second inning, and Koerner’s second double of the game scored both senior Lauren Stuhr and Wester to make it 5-0 in favor of the Irish. Arizmendi followed two batters later with an RBI fielder’s choice grounder to second, bringing Koerner in from third base (6-0).
Ashlynn Booker broke the Long Beach State drought with her 12th home run of the season, blasting a high hit deep and over the fence in left field in the bottom of the second to bring the 49ers within five runs at 6-1. Winter worked around the home run, posting a strikeout and two fly ball outs to limit the damage to a single run in the inning.
Junior Cassidy Whidden stung her third hit of the game through the left side of the Long Beach State defense in the top of the fourth inning with one out, moving pinch runner Carly Piccinich over to third base. Sophomore Megan Sorlie then ripped an RBI single of her own into right field, scoring Piccinich to extend the Irish cushion to 7-1.
A sharp single past Haus into left field by Booker was all Long Beach State could muster in the bottom of the fourth. Winter struck out Tautalafua swinging, and Karli Sandoval and Lauren Lombardi looking to strand the 49er base runner on the pond.
Neal looked to have located a lining slap single up the box, but Saganowich made a great diving grab to rob Long Beach State of a hit and a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, keeping Notre Dame’s 7-1 lead in tact.
Long Beach State went in order in the bottom of the sixth, as pinch hitter Ashley Holmes fouled out to Haus near the bag at third for the inning’s first out. Winter followed with strikeouts of Sandoval and Booker to retire the 49er side.
Winter allowed four hits in six innings of work, walking one while striking out seven Long Beach State hitters. Sophomore Allie Rhodes tossed a scoreless seventh inning in relief, striking out the final 49er hitter of the ballgame.
Koerner continued to put the pressure on at the plate in the top of the seventh, stroking her third double of the day into the outfield, depositing a two-run hit off the center field wall, advancing to third on the throw, to give Notre Dame a 9-1 lead. Haus chopped an RBI ground out to shortstop to bring Koerner across, moving the Irish cushion to 10-1.
Koerner set a Notre Dame NCAA Championship program record with five RBI during her 4-for-5 day at the plate, to go along with three doubles and three runs scored. The three doubles tied a single-game Irish team mark, as did the four hits in an NCAA game. Whidden and Wester each added three hits, with Wester chipping in three runs scored. Arizmendi added two RBI to the Irish cause.