May 20, 2017
by Tony Jones
AUBURN, Ala. - Another late rally, a hallmark of the 2017 University of Notre Dame softball season, was the order of the day on Saturday. An RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning by Katie Marino carried the Irish to a 7-6 walk-off win over ETSU at Auburn's Jane B. Moore Field.
How It HappenedNotre Dame (34-22) struck quickly for three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Ali Wester ripped a one-out single into center field to set the table for Morgan Reed. Reed ripped an RBI double to the gap in right center to score Wester for the 1-0 Irish advantage. Caitlyn Brooks followed up with a deep home run to left field one batter later. Brooks' eighth home run of the season made it 3-0 Notre Dame.
ETSU (29-26) clawed back with a run in the top of the third, rallying on an RBI single with two outs to trim the deficit to 3-1. On what looked to be a sure base hit one batter later, Katie Marino made a diving stab on a hard-hit ball up the middle and flipped the ball to Reed on the bag at second for a huge third out.
A leadoff double for ETSU in the top of the fourth inning was erased by Notre Dame starter Katie Beriont. A ground ball out to Reed at short and two straight back to the circle held the Bucs runner on the pond.
The Irish padded their lead in the bottom of the fourth frame. Melissa Rochford blasted a leadoff single through the right side, and took second base on a Kimmy Sullivan sacrifice bunt. Marino turned on the first pitch she saw and blasted an RBI double into the corner in left field, plating Rochford for the 4-1 Notre Dame cushion.
A Notre Dame throwing error in the top of the fifth allowed two ETSU runners to come all the way around to score, further cutting the lead to 4-3. Rachel Nasland entered in relief with the bags full and one out and forced a shallow flyout to left and a swinging strikeout to leave the bases loaded.
Reed kept the Notre Dame momentum rolling in the bottom of the fifth. The Notre Dame shortstop blasted a 3-1 pitch with two outs over the wall in right center for a solo home run. Reed's eighth long ball of 2017 made it 5-3 Irish. A solo shot for Marino in the bottom of the sixth inning, her fourth of the season, pushed the lead to 6-3.
ETSU answered with a three-run home run of its own to tie the contest at 6-6 in the top of the seventh. A scoreless bottom of the frame sent the game to extra innings.
Rochford got the Irish offense going with a leadoff single through the left side in the bottom of the eighth. Marino then put the finishing touches on the win two batters later, ripping a game-winning double to left center that plated Rochford for the 7-6 victory.
Notre Dame and California will resume an elimination game at 11 a.m. (ET) on Sunday at Jane B. Moore Field. The Golden Bears led the Irish 4-3 with two outs in the top of the fifth inning before the game was suspended on Saturday night.
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.