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ND Softball

Virginia sweeps Notre Dame in home series

| Monday, April 24, 2017

Over the weekend, Notre Dame was swept by ACC-foe Virginia in a three-game series at Melissa Cook Stadium.

After the series, the Irish (27-18, 11-10 ACC) sit in fifth place in the ACC, just a game above .500 in the conference.

The weekend action started Saturday with a doubleheader at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish got off to early leads in both games, but were unable to hold on as the Cavaliers surged back both times Saturday afternoon to take two wins.

Irish senior center fielder Karley Wester waits for a pitch during Notre Dame’s 13-4 win over IUPUI on April 12. Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior center fielder Karley Wester waits for a pitch during Notre Dame’s 13-4 win over IUPUI on April 12 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

In the first game of the set, the Wester sisters, senior center fielder Karley and sophomore left fielder Ali, found their way on base in the bottom of the first inning, with Ali Wester driving in her sister for a 1-0 lead after a Virginia error. Sophomore infielder Caitlyn Brooks knocked in Ali Wester later in the inning to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.

Virginia answered in a big way, however, in the top of the second. Sophomore right fielder Lacy Smith hit a three-run blast to take the lead, and then a single and an error gave the Cavaliers two more runs to make it a 5-2 game.

Brooks entered the game in relief for the third and fourth innings and did not yield a run, despite Virginia loading the bases in the third and stranding two runners in the fourth.

Sophomore third baseman Melissa Rochford homered in the sixth, but her solo shot wasn’t enough as the Irish fell 6-3.

In the second game of the series, the Irish led 4-1 after the first inning as junior shortstop Morgan Reed and senior right fielder Kimmy Sullivan each hit two-run homers.

But the Irish defense couldn’t contain the Cavaliers’ offense and Virginia scored three runs in the top of the second and then seven more in the top of the fourth to put the game out of reach at 11-5, and the final score came to 11-6.

In Sunday’s game, junior Katie Beriont struggled early on the mound, as the first two batters she faced picked up singles. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third and a sacrifice fly by senior designated player McKall Miller plated a run. Then, sophomore right fielder Lacy Smith singled to right field to put the Cavaliers up 2-0 in the first inning.

In the bottom of the first, Karley Wester single and stole second, and Ali Wester advanced Karley to third on a fielder’s choice. Another fielder’s choice brought Wester home to make it 2-1 Virginia.

In the top of the second frame, Virginia added to the lead with an RBI double by senior shortstop Madison Labshere. Sophomore Brooks entered the game on the mound in place of Beriont. Brooks struck out one batter with runners on first and second. Senior third baseman Kaitlin Fitzgerald launched a single to right field, which scored a run. But on the same play, the Irish threw out Fitzgerald trying to reach second, as well as a Cavalier runner trying to score all the way from first base to end the inning. The Cavaliers led 4-1 after two frames.

The Irish again found a way back into the game as junior first baseman Sara White singled to score Kimmy Sullivan to make it 4-2.

Then, with the bases loaded the Irish had an opportunity to get back into the game with Karley Wester at bat. Wester grounded to the shortstop, but Labshere’s throw went wide of first base and all three Irish base runners came home to score as the ball skirted up into right field.

With their first lead of the game at 5-4, Brooks looked to maintain the Irish lead. The Burbank, California, native, pitched a scoreless third inning, but allowed an RBI single in the fourth to tie the game.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Irish loaded the bases, but came up empty. The fifth and sixth innings also remained scoreless for both teams and the game entered the seventh inning.

Virginia took a 6-5 lead in the game’s final inning as McKall Miller launched a solo home run just over the fence in left-center field. Later in the inning, Labshere doubled to left center to bring home two runners and giving the Cavaliers an 8-5 lead. Virginia added two more runs to end their scoring at 10-5.

The Irish scored just one run in the bottom of the seventh to make the final score 10-6.

Next up for Notre Dame is a game on the road at Northwestern on Tuesday. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m.

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