Notre Dame weathers the elements in victory over Pittsburgh
Marek Mazurek | Monday, April 11, 2016
Two weather delays couldn’t slow down No. 20 Notre Dame on Sunday as the Irish handled Pittsburgh 13-1 at Melissa Cook Stadium.
“I just told the girls how proud I was of them, because they made [the weather delays] not a factor,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “I think [Pittsburgh] made it a factor, and I think that’s part of the reason they gave up a little bit. I’m just really proud of the way the girls played, this was the toughest day we’ve every played in and we played really well.”
The Irish (28-6, 6-3 ACC) jumped on the Panthers (24-14, 5-8) early on as freshman designated player Caitlyn Brooks rocked a two-run home run in the first inning. The long ball was Brooks’ eighth of the season, which leads the team. The Burbank, California, native said her homer came from just swinging at good pitches.
“I was just looking for a pitch in my zone, and I got it,” Brooks said. “I took [a ball], and then I was just waiting to see it again, so I was excited about that.”
The Irish kept their momentum going in the bottom of the second inning when sophomore left fielder Bailey Bigler slapped a double to left field to score sophomore shortstop Morgan Reed from second base.
Later in the inning, Notre Dame loaded the bases against Pittsburgh senior starting pitcher Jenna Modic. With freshman catcher Maddie McCracken on third, Bigler on second and freshman second baseman Ali Wester on first, Harris threw a wild pitch, allowing McCracken to cross the plate. The Irish ended the second frame with a 4-0 lead.
On the mound, junior right-hander Rachel Nasland picked up the win for the Irish in the game, her 11th of the season. Gumpf said she thought the key for the San Diego native was working around base runners.
“[Nasland] got strikes when she needed to, and she put the ball where she needed to,” Gumpf said. “I think Rachel did a much better job today of managing the strike zone. … Today was one of her best performances of the year because [Pittsburgh] can flat hit, and she handled them really well.”
Nasland walked the first batter of the game, but held the Panthers scoreless in the first inning. In the second, Nasland struck out two straight Panthers batters to leave a runner stranded on second base, and in the third inning, Nasland gave up a one-out double before getting three consecutive outs.
The lone run Nasland surrendered came in the top of the fifth inning when Panthers senior third baseman Shelby Pickett drilled a solo home run to left field.
Behind Nasland’s one-run performance, the Irish continued to put runs on the board. McCracken tallied an RBI single in the bottom of the third inning to score senior infielder Carly Piccinich. Then, senior right fielder Megan Sorlie blasted a double to left-center field in the fourth inning, which brought home Reed and McCracken and extended Notre Dame’s lead to 7-0.
Even a rain delay didn’t slow down Notre Dame’s offense, as the team added six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning despite a 40-minute stoppage. With the bases loaded, senior first baseman Micaela Arizmendi singled to score two runs, and the next two batters — Reed and Sortie — both hit run-scoring doubles. Notre Dame’s final run came on an error by Pittsburgh senior second baseman Maggie Sevilla, which allowed Sorlie to score from second base.
“We did a great job of swinging at strikes,” Gumpf said. “[Pittsburgh’s] pitching staff controls hitters when they get you to chase pitches, and we did a great job of making that not happen. We made them throw strikes.”
The second game of the doubleheader was cancelled due to the inclement weather, and the Irish will return to action at Melissa Cook Stadium on Thursday when they take on Butler at 6:30 p.m.