Notre Dame sweeps weekend tournament
Christina Kochanski | Sunday, February 16, 2014
The Irish earned a perfect record in the Jacksonville University Tournament this weekend with two victories over No. 23 Louisville and one victory over Jacksonville.
The Irish (6-1) started the weekend with a 6-3 comeback win Saturday morning over the Cardinals (4-5). After falling behind by two runs in the top of the fourth inning, Notre Dame scored five unanswered runs to claim its first victory of the tournament. That was also the only time the Irish would play from behind during the weekend.
Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said last weekend’s 3-2 comeback win over Auburn was important for Saturday’s win against the Cardinals.
“That wasn’t the first time we had to make a comeback during this early part of the season,” Gumpf said. “We did it last weekend, and it’s good that we’re getting practice with this.”
Senior right-hander Laura Winter tossed the first four innings before freshman right-hander Rachel Nasland took over in the circle. Freshman outfielder Karley Wester led the team with two runs and three RBI, including a two-run, game-tying single in the fourth inning.
Senior shortstop Chloe Saganowich led the team overall in the tournament with four runs. Saganowich scored one in the first win against Louisville, one in the 9-1 victory against Jacksonville (4-4) and two in the 11-4 rematch against the Cardinals.
Gumpf said the weekend featured many impact players who helped lead the team to its undefeated weekend.
“We had some kids really show up and make an impact,” Gumpf said. “The pitching staff really hung in there and came through.”
The Irish used its three pitchers — Winter, Nasland and left-hander Allie Rhodes — throughout the tournament. Rhodes, who threw a no-hitter during last weekend’s Auburn Plainsman Invitational, pitched five innings of one-run ball in the 9-1, five-inning victory over the Dolphins on Saturday.
Although the Irish jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning and slowed the scoring pace throughout the rest of the game, Gumpf said the team never relaxed its intensity.
“[The lead] allowed us to take a deep breath, but you don’t want to take too deep of a breath,” Gumpf said. “I’ve seen [Jacksonville] come back many times, and we really couldn’t take our early lead for granted.”
The Irish rounded out their triumphant weekend with a Sunday win over the Cardinals. Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead once again, scoring seven runs in the first inning. Junior outfielder Emilee Koerner, who was named to the preseason espnW All-America First Team, contributed a lead-off home run and two RBI in that decisive first inning.
Although individual impact players were important to Notre Dame’s success in the tournament, Gumpf said teamwork was also critical.
“One thing I like was that we were really playing together well,” Gumpf said. “Everyone was feeding off of each other and picking each other up.”
The Irish will look to ride this weekend’s success into the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. The Irish will face six teams over the course of four days, starting Thursday with Pacific and BYU. Notre Dame will also face UC Davis, California, Cal State Fullerton and Oregon.