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ND Softball

Irish split pair at Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

| Friday, February 20, 2015

On day one in Cathedral City, California, for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at the Big Dreams Sports Complex, No.23 Notre Dame split a pair of games, falling to No. 10 Tennessee, 10-4, and defeating Maryland, 8-6, on Thursday.

The Irish (6-5) quickly put themselves on the scoreboard against Tennessee in the first inning. Junior All-American infielder Micaela Arizmendi hit a single to center field with the bases loaded to bring in sophomore All-American outfielder Karley Wester for the first score of the game. Tennessee (10-0) went on to outscore the Irish 8-3 the rest of the game.

Through the first three innings, sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland held off the Volunteers, finishing with a game-high 10 strikeouts, but she was touched for six hits, four runs, two home runs and a walk. Trailing 8-1 in the sixth inning, junior catcher/outfielder Casey Africano ripped an RBI single, and two time All-American senior outfielder Emilee Koerner and Wester scored in the seventh to add three more runs for the Irish, but the game was already well in hand for the Volunteers.

Notre Dame turned their struggles around in the second game of the tournament against Maryland (6-5). For the first time all season, all nine starters for the Irish came away with a hit. Notre Dame out-hit the Terrapins, 13-6, led by Wester, who went three for four to go along with two runs. Freshman infielder Morgan Reed and senior infielder Katey Haus led the Irish in RBIs tallying two each.

The Irish struggled early, giving up two runs in the top of the first inning, but junior pitcher Allie Rhodes struck out the last batter of the inning to stop the bleeding. In the bottom half of the inning, Notre Dame responded with their own offensive burst by scoring five runs. Wester got the Irish going with a single and then a steal which put her in scoring position. Senior co-captain and infielder Jenna Simon singled and after a throwing error, Wester was able to score from second. A bunt from Koerner and a single from senior Cassidy Whidden brought the game to a tie at two runs apiece. Later in the inning, Reed and Arizmendi chipped in three RBIs between them to increase the lead to five to two.

On the day, Notre Dame outscored both of its opponents 21-15. Wester led the Irish in both games with five hits in six plate appearances and two walks pushed her on base percentage up to 87.5 percent on the day.

Now 6-5 on the season, Notre Dame has started slower compared to this point last season when the Irish were 9-2 through their first 11 games.

The Irish will hit the field again for a single matchup today against UNLV at 4 p.m. in Cathedral City, California.

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