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ND Softball

Irish take series from Louisville with two wins

| Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Notre Dame went 2-for-3 over the weekend in an ACC road series against Louisville.

The Cardinals (21-10, 5-2 ACC) entered the series undefeated in the ACC, posing a potential tough challenge for the Irish (19-14, 6-6 ACC).

In Saturday afternoon’s first game, Notre Dame found its offense early with a first inning single by sophomore left fielder Ali Wester. She made her way into scoring position, but was left on base after a deep flyout.

Irish sophomore infielder Caitlyn Brooks swings at a pitch during Notre Dame's 1-0 win over Eastern Michigan on March 29 at Melissa Cook Stadium.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish sophomore infielder Caitlyn Brooks swings at a pitch during Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Eastern Michigan on March 29 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

The Cardinals scored first with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning, making the score 1-0. However, Notre Dame’s senior starting pitcher Rachel Nasland elicited a pop fly to first and a ground ball out double play, ending the inning.

The Irish took the lead at the top of the third inning when an RBI single by junior infielder Morgan Reed and an RBI groundout by sophomore infielder Caitlyn Brooks combined to score two runs, pushing Notre Dame ahead of the Cardinals 2-1.

Louisville struck back with two of its own runs in the fourth inning due to two Notre Dame errors. The Cardinals extended their lead to 4-2 with a solo home run in the fifth.

The Irish continued to fight, relying on clutch offensive plays from sophomore infielder Melissa Rochford and junior pinch runner Bailey Bigler to cut the lead to 4-3 by the end of the sixth inning. In the seventh inning, Rochford drilled a hit to center field, scoring senior outfielder Karley Wester and Reed and putting the Irish ahead.

Junior pitcher Katie Beriont sealed the win for Notre Dame with solid pitching in the final inning, throwing out the lead Louisville runner at second base and helping Notre Dame secure the 5-4 win.

Louisville struck immediately in the second game of the series Sunday afternoon, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning following a quick RBI single. Brooks and freshman infielder Katie Marino reached base in the top of the second inning, but were left stranded on base after two Notre Dame strikeouts.

The Irish managed to overtake the Cardinals’ strong pitching in the top of the fourth when senior outfielder Kimmy Sullivan and junior infielder Sara White recorded RBIs to push Notre Dame ahead 3-1.

The Irish offense continued with a Rochford RBI that scored Reed and a Marino RBI that brought home freshman pinch runner Alexis Bazos in the top of the fifth, putting the Irish up 5-1.

Wester scored with a hit to center in the top of the sixth inning, giving the Irish their largest lead of the game at 6-1. Two runs for Louisville in the bottom of the seventh cut the score to 6-4. Nasland shut down Louisville to close the game, making that the final score.

The Cardinals avoided the sweep, winning the final matchup of the series 7-4 Monday night.

The Irish went down early as Louisville took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Reed led a Notre Dame rally with a single to center field, and Brooks hit a two-run home run to tie the game.

Louisville took control from that point on, ending the game with a 7-2 Cardinal win.

Next, the Irish will take on Fort Wayne in a non-conference home game Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.

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