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ND Softball

Irish roll over Eastern Michigan

| Thursday, March 27, 2014

It took Notre Dame only five innings to trounce the visiting Eastern Michigan 12-2 in the team’s much-delayed home opener Wednesday as senior pitcher Laura Winter, a 2014 Senior CLASS Award candidate, tossed one scoreless inning to become the winningest Irish pitcher of all time.

Irish junior pitcher Allie Rhods winds up for a pitch in a game against Illinois State on Sept. 15, 2013. Rhodes started Wednesday's game against Eastern Michigan and gave up two runs in the first inning.Natalie Vos

Irish junior pitcher Allie Rhods winds up for a pitch in a game against Illinois State on Sept. 15, 2013. Rhodes started Wednesday’s game against Eastern Michigan and gave up two runs in the first inning.

Irish coach Deanna Gumpf called it a proud day as Winter (14-3) passed Heather Booth with her 97th career victory.

“[Winter] has been amazing for us, and she has carried us,” Gumpf said. “I’m just very proud of her, very happy for her. I can’t wait to see what happens the rest of the way.”

After cold weather postponed a series this past weekend against Pittsburgh and shuffled around this week’s schedule, the No. 24 Irish (20-7) were slow out of the gates against Eastern Michigan (8-17) as they attempted to shake off the effects of a nearly two-week layoff.

Both offenses were dormant until the third inning, when the Eagles drew first blood. Junior second baseman Jenn Lucas and senior centerfielder Lindsay Smith bunted her over to second base before a gap double before junior third baseman Abby Davidson bashed a double to the gap to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Irish starting sophomore pitcher Allie Rhodes set down the next hitter, but was chased after the Eagles added a second run on an error by Notre Dame junior third baseman Katey Haus. Gumpf then handed the ball to freshman pitcher Rachel Nasland, who got the Eagle first baseman Lindsay Rich to fly out to left.

The Irish roared back in the bottom half of the inning. Notre Dame batted around and saw 13 plate appearances in all as they grabbed eight runs to take a commanding lead.

“In the first inning, we had horrible at-bats; in the second inning, we were getting there. But [Eastern Michigan] got those two runs against us, and I think the girls said, ‘Oh boy, we better get going,’” Gumpf said. “I like the way that we responded. We earned those wins.”

Junior centerfielder Emilee Koerner led the inning off with a walk. Eight batters and five runs later, she hit a three-run home run over the right-field wall to put the finishing touches on an eight-run frame that put the game all but out of reach.

After another clean inning of work by Nasland, the Irish added four insurance runs in the bottom of the fourth to bring the score to 12-2 before Winter trotted out to ice the game and rewrite the record books.

Senior captain and shortstop Chloe Saganowich was 3-3 on the day with a double, three RBI and two runs scored as the Irish improved to 38-3-1 in home nonconference games since Melissa Cook Stadium opened in 2008. The Irish play another such game tomorrow as they take on No. 23 Northwestern (18-6), a team that has beaten such quality competition as current No. 6 South Alabama and No. 19 Washington.

Gumpf called the Wildcats’ team similar to another she is very familiar with – her own.

“[Northwestern’s] pitchers do a great job of keeping them in ball games. They have a very balanced lineup. They have speed, they have power, and they don’t make mistakes defensively. I could be talking about us,” Gumpf said. “We have a great rivalry with Northwestern, and I think the girls are excited to get out there and have a great ballgame.”

The contest with Northwestern begins at 4 p. m. Thursday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish then travel to Syracuse, N. Y., to play a three-game weekend series with the Orange.

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About Evan Anderson

Sophomore from Ann Arbor, MI in Sorin Hall intending to major in Finance. Avid fan of the NBA and my Tigers, Pistons, and Lions.

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