CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – The University of Notre Dame softball team kept its recent winning surge rolling Thursday on the first day of play at the 2014 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex. The No. 24 Irish (8-1) defeated Pacific 1-0 to open tournament play before blanking BYU 6-0 to run the team’s current winning streak to seven games.
Notre Dame pitchers allowed one extra base hit in 14 full innings of work on day one of the tournament, posting the second and third team shutouts of the season. Irish hurlers walked just three batters while striking out a total of 14 hitters on the day.
Senior Laura Winter allowed just two singles in game two against BYU, walking one and striking out eight Cougar hitters for her fourth consecutive win in the circle. Winter also lowered her season ERA from 2.40 to 1.85 with her 16th career shutout, moving her into solo eighth place in career shutouts in Notre Dame program history.
Freshman Rachel Nasland earned her first career NCAA win against Pacific, throwing 1.2 innings out of the bullpen with two strikeouts in relief of starter Allie Rhodes. The sophomore southpaw Rhodes tossed 5.1 shutout innings, allowing one run while striking out five in the no decision.
Freshman Karley Wester, the reigning Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Week, led all Irish batters with three hits in the first two games, chipping in an RBI and scoring an additional run. Junior All-American Emilee Koerner and classmate Jenna Simon each scored a pair of runs during the first day of the tournament, while junior Katey Haus and sophomore Micaela Arizmendi added two RBI each to pace Notre Dame.
The Irish will resume the tournament Friday at 12:30 p.m. (PT) against UC Davis at the ASA/USA Softball Des Moines Field at the Big League Dreams Complex.
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Game One – #24 Notre Dame 1, Pacific 0
Jenna Simon opened the home half of the inning with an infield slap single to the left side off Pacific starter Tori Shepard (1-2), and then froze the defense with a steal of second base. A sacrifice bunt from junior All-American Emilee Koerner moved Simon over to third base with only one out. A sacrifice fly down the left field line by reigning Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week Karley Wester allowed Simon to tag up and score from third, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
A leadoff single by Nicole Zapotoczny began the top of the seventh inning for Pacific (2-5), but Rachel Nasland (1-0) earned her first career strikeout by getting Goyette to chase a 0-2 pitch out of the zone for the first out. A pop out to Simon at second base by Bailey O’Mara and a Nasland strikeout of Sara Anderson gave the freshman hurler her first career collegiate win.
Allie Rhodes flew out of the gate in the opening game of the day, retiring the Pacific side in the top half of the first inning with a fly out, strikeout and a ground back to the circle to end the Tiger opening frame. Working a leadoff walk, Taylor Petty was ultimately stranded at third base, after a pair of ground ball outs and a Rhodes strikeout of Alex Steinmehl to keep Pacific off the board.
A walk drawn by Katey Haus and a base hit through the right side by sophomore Megan Sorlie gave the Irish two on with one out in the bottom of the second inning. A ground ball out to third base gave Pacific its second out of the inning, but a throwing error by the third baseman Cassidy Gustafson allowed Sorlie to advance to third base. A hard hit fly ball to center field by senior captain Chloe Saganowich was unable to find any real estate, stalling the Irish offense.
Pacific picked up a crucial double down the left field line off the bat of Petty with one out in the fourth, but a groundout to Haus at third and a lineout to Saganowich at shortstop stranded the Tiger runner at second base, and gave Rhodes her fourth straight shutout frame.
Micaela Arizmendi made a perfect throw to third base to snuff out a sacrifice attempt in the top of the fifth inning, cleanly fielding a bunt attempt to throw out pinch runner Melina Huey at third. A Rhodes strikeout of Gabby Goyette and a foul out by pinch hitter Taylor Brink to junior catcher Cassidy Whidden stymied the Pacific attack once again.
Nasland entered in relief for Rhodes in the top of the sixth with two on and one out, and forced a fielder’s choice groundout back to the circle to retire Petty at third base. A Steinmehl ground ball to Simon at second base retired the Tigers side.
Game 2 – #24 Notre Dame 6, BYU 0
Laura Winter allowed an early single to Lauren Bell, but a pair of strikeouts with Coco Tauali’I and Gordy Bravo at the plate kept BYU from doing any damage in the top of the first inning.
A pair of Notre Dame singles in the first two innings looked to get the Irish attack in motion, but Cougars starter Ashley Thompson (2-2) held the Notre Dame lineup at bay, keeping the ball on the ground for all three outs in the bottom of the second.
Following an infield single from Jenna Simon and a one-bagger to right field from Emilee Koerner, Karley Wester worked a four-pitch walk to load the bases in the bottom of the third inning. A fielding error by BYU (5-7) catcher Sydney Broderick on a throw from third baseman Ashlee Robinson scored Simon from third and gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. A hard-hit sacrifice fly by Cassidy Whidden to deep center field allowed Koerner to tag up at third base, upping the score to 2-0.
A 1-2-3 inning for Winter (4-1) followed in the top of the fourth. Katie Manuma fouled out to freshman Kimmy Sullivan down the first base line, Thompson struck out swinging and McKenzie St. Clair popped up to captain Chloe Saganowich at shortstop.
Koerner grooved a first pitch double into the gap in right center field to begin the home half of the fifth inning, advancing to third base on a Wester infield single. After Wester stole second base, Katey Haus broke the inning open with a two-run single back up the box, clearing the bags and upping the Notre Dame advantage to 4-0.
A two-run single with one out by pinch hitter Micaela Arizmendi in the bottom of the sixth inning pushed the Irish lead to 6-0. A three-up, three down inning for Winter meant the final 13 BYU hitters were consecutively retired to end the game.