Seven-run first inning leads Irish to victory over Detroit
Notre Dame rode a seven-run first inning to a 10-5 midweek victory over Detroit on Tuesday at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The Irish (22-15, 8-7 ACC) came out swinging early, following up a three-up, three-down top half of the frame with a five-hit, seven-run bottom half of the frame to take a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the way.
The bottom half of the first started with Irish senior center fielder Karley Wester reaching on an infield single before stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error. Her sister, sophomore left fielder Ali Wester, promptly knocked her in with an single of her own to put the Irish up 1-0.
The Irish blew the game wide open just three batters later, however. After the next two batters reached via single and fielder’s choice to load the bases, sophomore third baseman Melissa Rochford cleared the bases with a three-run triple to put the Irish up 4-0. The Irish would tack on three more runs before it was all said and done, as they batted around before Ali Wester lined into a double-play to end the threat before they could add any more to their early cushion against the Titans (8-26, 5-4 Horizon).
“They gave us a couple of windows,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said of the big inning. “They let a couple things happen, and good offenses take advantage of that. That’s what we did in that first inning — we took advantage of a couple little windows they gave us, and then we just kept plugging away.”
The seven-run frame would prove to be all Notre Dame needed in the win, as Irish starting pitcher Katie Beriont (8-5) allowed just three runs — all unearned — in her five innings of work, and the Irish would add two more runs in the second inning and one more in the fourth to give Notre Dame its final total of 10 runs. Gumpf said the biggest advantage to come from the big first inning was the opportunity it gave her to play some of the team’s nonstarters.
“The good thing is today, we got that big, jumping lead, and we were able to put in a lot of people that haven’t seen a lot of time,” Gumpf said. “In my mind, that was successful because it gave us a good cushion to just see what other people are doing. We’ve stuck to the same lineup a lot this year, and it was really good to see how the next man in is doing. I needed to see that, and that was good.”
One of the players who got an opportunity as a result of the early cushion was junior pitcher Sara White, who had only made three appearances this season prior to Tuesday’s win. White pitched two innings — the third and the fourth — and allowed just two runs on two hits and four walks in her appearance.
“Sara is really just, right now, working to get her timing down,” Gumpf said of the junior. “She’s coming back from a big injury, and I need her to see a lot of batters. I was glad that she was able to get herself out of that inning after she gave up those two runs because I needed her to see those hitters. … The more hitters she sees, the better she’s going to get.”
Following the 10-5 win over Detroit, Notre Dame will host a second midweek game Wednesday when IUPUI visits Melissa Cook Stadium. Gumpf said the Jaguars (15-21, 5-1 Summit) will pose a similar challenge to the Irish as the Titans did.
“IUPUI has put together a really nice program,” Gumpf said. “They’re playing good softball right now. They’re going to be, offensively, a lot like [Detroit], so we have to really handle their offense, and we’ve got to put the ball hard on the ground [offensively]. … We have to make sure we’re hitting the top half of that ball and making things happen.”
First pitch between the Irish and Jaguars is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Melissa Cook Stadium.