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ND Softball

Nasland leads Irish over Vikings in home opener

| Thursday, March 19, 2015

Irish sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland followed up her no-hitter Sunday in strong fashion Wednesday against Cleveland State, pitching into the sixth inning to lift Notre Dame to an 8-4 victory in its home opener.

Leading just 2-1 headed into the bottom of the fifth, the Irish (16-11, 1-5 ACC) exploded for five runs in the frame to open up some breathing room against the Vikings (12-8).

Sophomore Rachel Nasland winds up during a April 2 game against Michigan State, an 11-4 Irish victory at Melissa Cook Stadium.Emily McConville | The Observer

Sophomore Rachel Nasland winds up during an April 2 game against Michigan State, an 11-4 Irish victory at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Nasland gave up a singular run in the first inning before running off four straight scoreless frames, giving the Irish bats time to come alive in the home half of the fifth. She faced two batters in the sixth — both of whom scored to close the gap to 7-3 — before ceding the circle to junior Allie Rhodes to get the final six outs.

Conventional wisdom suggests a drop-off for a pitcher after throwing a milestone game, but those kind of thoughts were barely on Nasland’s mind, she said.

“I typically don’t look at the number of hits on the scoreboard, nor do I keep track of them myself,” Nasland said. “For some reason, the last inning, I did look at the scoreboard and realized that I was one inning away from a no-hitter. I pushed it out of my head though, because what was most important was finishing the game with a win. I want that to be my main focus.”

Nasland notched nine strikeouts against Cleveland State yesterday against just two walks while Rhodes struck out and walked two in relief.

Junior first baseman Micaela Arizmendi paced the Irish with three hits and pair of RBIs, while senior third baseman Katey Haus also batted in two on the day. Freshman right fielder Bailey Bigler had a two-RBI, pinch-hit single in the fifth to contribute to the win. Senior center fielder Emilee Koerner rounded out the offensive production for Notre Dame with an RBI.

The offensive outburst is indicative of what Nasland said she thinks is a swing in momentum for the team after a slow start in conference play.

“We started off our first two ACC series against two very strong teams,” Nasland said. “I think that we only got better. Although we had a tough first weekend, we’ve continued to push ourselves and work on our game, which has paid off.”

The Irish resume play Saturday when they host Georgia Tech. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium in Notre Dame’s conference home opener.

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