Irish sweep Georgia Tech to run winning streak to five
Benjamin Padanilam | Monday, March 23, 2015
On the heels of back-to-back wins over No. 10 Florida State and Cleveland State, Notre Dame swept its three-game series against Georgia Tech at Melissa Cook Stadium this past weekend to push their winning streak to five games.
The Irish (19-11, 4-5 ACC) took both games of a doubleheader Saturday, 6-1 and 13-0, over the Yellow Jackets (11-19, 4-8 ACC) before sealing the sweep with a 5-0 win Sunday to cap the first home conference series of the year.
Notre Dame opened the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader with sophomore Rachel Nasland on the mound, who continued her recent trend of strong performances with a complete game, allowing just one run and striking out six to lead the team in the 6-1 victory. Sophomore left fielder Karley Wester praised Nasland and the rest of the pitching staff for their recent performances.
“Our pitchers have been working really hard to keep the ball in the park and it’s made the difference,” Wester said. “They’ve been doing really well.”
Senior second baseman and co-captain Jenna Simon had three hits and three runs, while Wester added two hits and an RBI to help lead the team offensively.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Irish bats powered the team to a 13-0, five-inning victory. Notre Dame had 13 hits, including two-run home runs by senior third baseman Katey Haus and junior first baseman Micaela Arizmendi. Haus led the team with three RBIs, while Arizmendi, Wester, and senior center fielder Emilee Koerner each added two RBIs in the win. Wester believes the lineup is beginning to round into form over the last few games.
“Our lineup right now is looking like we were last year and we were the best hitting team in the nation, so it feels good,” Wester said.
The Irish also received a strong performance on the mound in the 13-0 win Saturday evening. Junior Allie Rhodes pitched three shutout innings to earn the win, pushing her record on the year to 7-4, before freshman Katie Beriont closed out the game for the Irish, pitching two innings and allowing just one hit.
On Sunday, Nasland took the mound again for the Irish and pitched her second complete game of the weekend. This time, she pitched a one-hit shutout and struck out 10 Yellow Jackets in the 5-0 victory. The performance pushed her record to 10-6 and lowered her ERA to 2.42. Nasland credits her four-game winning streak to the offense and their early run support.
“I think we’re putting a lot of confidence in each other, and we’re coming out strong in the beginning, which it carries over throughout the entire game,” Nasland said. “I think that’s really big, coming out strong from the start, and coming out strong when we get ahead with runs. It’s really important on the defensive side to make sure that we keep them off base to keep that momentum for the rest of the game.”
Despite leaving nine runners on base, the Irish were able to score a run in five of the six innings they took the plate to give Nasland the run support she needed as the Irish took advantage of a poor fielding game from their opponents; Georgia Tech committed five errors in the series finale.
The series sweep pushes Notre Dame’s winning streak to five games, including four straight ACC wins. Both Nasland and Wester believe the current momentum will play a significant role going forward for the team.
“I think it’s great momentum for us,” Nasland said. “We’re getting over this hump and now we’re gonna just continue going up from here. I think it it gives our team a lot of confidence going into next weekend as well.”
“It was kind of a bummer to play two of the top teams in the ACC [to start conference play], but now [after] sweeping the series with Georgia Tech, we’re just going to keep rolling and get a big momentum shift going into the ACC tournament,” Wester said.
Notre Dame will return to the field Wednesday, when they take on IPFW at Melissa Cook Stadium at 5 p.m.