ND takes three of four
Evan Anderson | Monday, February 10, 2014
Notre Dame won three of its four matchups this weekend at the Plainsman Invitational, highlighted by a solo no-hitter for sophomore starting pitcher Allie Rhodes against Morehead State and an eight-inning comeback victory over host Auburn on Sunday afternoon.
The Irish (3-1) notched their first win of the season over Tennessee Tech, 9-1, before falling to North Dakota State 4-1 in Saturday’s doubleheader. The first game marked the return of junior catcher Cassidy Whidden. Last May, she suffered a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament while stealing second base against Virginia Tech in the 2013 NCAA Lexington regional. After a successful surgery and nine months of rehabilitation, it took just one at-bat and two pitches for Whidden to smash her first home run of the 2014 season, a three-run shot that would provide more than enough cushion Rhodes, who gave up just two hits and no runs in her season debut.
“I am just so grateful to be back out on the field with my teammates,” said Whidden, a third-team all-Big East performer a year ago.
The Irish were unable to string together much offense in the second game, where they faced North Dakota State sophomore pitcher Krista Menke (2-1), who yielded just six hits and a single run on an infield single by sophomore right fielder Megan Sorlie.
But the Irish rebounded on Sunday afternoon. In the first game of the afternoon against Morehead State, sophomore southpaw Allie Rhodes tossed the 33rd solo no-hitter in the history of the program in a five-inning 9-0 victory. Supported by two home runs and four RBI from junior centerfielder and ESPNW preseason All-American Emilee Koerner, Rhodes yielded just two baserunners and did not walk a single batter in a wire-to-wire victory for her second victory in as many days.
Afterwards, Rhodes (2-0) said that the no-hitter was the product of plenty of work in the offseason.
“Starting off this season strong was really important to me,” Rhodes said. “A goal of mine this season is to be consistent, and this weekend was a great start towards accomplishing that goal.”
In the second game of the afternoon, Notre Dame handed the host Auburn its only loss of the weekend, 3-2. The Tigers scored runs in the second and third innings on a pair of solo home runs by sophomore designated player Austyn West and second baseman Emily Carosone, but the Irish and senior right-handed pitcher Laura Winter quickly stopped the bleeding. Winter (1-1) gave up just four hits against eight strikeouts and went the distance for Notre Dame, throwing 126 pitches on the day.
On the offensive side, Koerner began to chip away at the Auburn lead. A fourth-inning solo home run, her third of the day, cut the deficit to one, and she scored freshman shortstop Kimmy Sullivan on a double through the gap in the sixth to force extra innings after Winter set down the side in the seventh.
But the tie would be broken in the eighth. After a sacrifice bunt by captain and senior shortstop Chloe Saganowich, sophomore pinch-runner Carly Piccinich scored on a wild pitch by Auburn sophomore pitcher Lexi Davis.
After the tournament, Koerner said the team was elated to get the win.
“The comeback win [against Auburn] was extremely important,” Koerner said. “It gives us a lot of confidence heading into next weekend’s games … our team is ready for a great season and we are excited to come into the ACC strong.”
The Irish are back on the road again next weekend, when they will travel to Florida for the Jacksonville University Tournament for a game against Louisville and a pair against Missouri.