Koerner’s walk-off single gives ND 20th straight win
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, April 16, 2015
A walk-off single from senior center fielder Emilee Koerner lifted No. 25 Notre Dame to its 20th consecutive win Wednesday at Melissa Cook Stadium as the Irish defeated visiting Northwestern 3-2.
With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh, freshman designated player Sara White lined a lead-off double off the left field fence to get Notre Dame (34-11, 13-5 ACC) a runner in scoring position with nobody out. The Irish lost that runner in scoring position on the next at-bat, however, as White was ruled out due to interference on a grounder from junior right fielder Megan Sorlie.
A groundout from senior second baseman Jenna Simon advanced Sorlie to second with two outs. From there, sophomore left fielder Karley Wester kept the inning alive with an infield single to the shortstop, bringing up Koerner with runners on the corners.
The two-time All-American delivered, as her come-backer up the middle deflected off Wildcats junior pitcher Kristen Wood and into the outfield, scoring Sorlie for the winning run.
Northwestern (20-15, 8-3 Big Ten) had its first serious offensive threat in the top of the second when it got runners at first and third with just one out, but the Irish stood tall to get out of the inning. Junior pitcher Allie Rhodes struck out the next batter before the Irish caught Wildcats senior designated player Olivia Duehr stealing to end the inning.
Notre Dame then took the lead in the bottom of the second in a game it never trailed in.
Junior first baseman Micaela Arizmendi reached base on a leadoff single to start the inning off for the Irish before sophomore pinch runner Kimmy Sullivan scored on a sacrifice fly to get Notre Dame on the board. With runners on second and third, White got the job done on a fly ball to left field.
Northwestern answered in the top of the third, however, when center fielder Sabrina Rabin scored from second on a sacrifice fly to knot the game up.
Wildcats junior shortstop Andrea Filler hit a deep fly ball only to see Sorlie track it down to record the second out. However, Rabin raced around third and headed for home, with the relay throw too late to catch the Northwestern freshman at the plate.
But the Irish capitalized on a Northwestern mistake in the bottom of the third to retake the lead. With two down, Koerner laid a bunt down the third-base line in an attempt at an infield single. She got even more, as Wildcats senior third baseman Anna Edwards overthrew the first baseman, allowing Koerner to advance all the way to third.
Notre Dame senior third baseman Katey Haus converted with an RBI single to put the Irish back ahead.
Parity was restored in the top of the sixth, though, when two Notre Dame errors allowed Northwestern to knot the game back up at 2-2 in the penultimate frame.
After throwing six innings of four-hit ball, Rhodes made way for freshman Katie Beriont in the top of the seventh. Beriont — who picked up the win to improve her record to 4-1 — sent the Wildcats down in order in the final frame, setting the stage for Koerner’s walkoff.
The win was Notre Dame’s 20th straight, marking the first time in 12 years the feat has been achieved. The program record was set in 2001, when the Irish won 33 consecutive contests.
It also maintained Notre Dame’s perfect record at Melissa Cook Stadium this year. The Irish have won all 13 home games in 2015 and have won 20 straight at home dating back to 2014; their last home loss was April 22, 2014 in a 6-2 defeat against North Carolina State.
The Irish return to the diamond Saturday, when they host Syracuse for the fifth-annual Strikeout Cancer weekend; the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m., while Sunday’s finale is slated for a noon first pitch at Melissa Cook Stadium.