Notre Dame earns 3-2 record in first tourney of season
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Notre Dame kicked off its 2017 season last weekend out west and came away with three wins and two losses over a five-game stretch.
At the Beach Kickoff Tournament in Long Beach, California, the Irish (3-2) won their first game of the year against Weber State on Friday, 2-1, with a walk-off wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Junior Irish pitcher Katie Beriont got going early in the contest, allowing just one hit and no walks in her first four innings on the mound. The Wildcats (0-4-1) picked up their first run of the game in the top of the sixth inning, however, as Wildcat junior outfielder Rae Gall knocked in an RBI single to put Weber State up, 1-0.
Despite a good scoring chance in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Irish could not find a run until the bottom of the seventh inning with their backs against the wall.
In a pivotal frame, Notre Dame generated offense with a walk from sophomore pitcher Caitlyn Brooks, a single from freshman catcher Madison Heide and an RBI single from junior infielder Sara White. White’s single tied the game at one apiece.
Then, after an intentional walk to senior captain center fielder Karley Wester, a wild pitch scored the winning run for the Irish, who took a 2-1 victory in their first game of the weekend.
Notre Dame’s next game on the road trip offered no less drama for the Irish. Like their first game of the day, the Irish offense struggled to put runs on the board early in the game against Long Beach State (3-1-1). The Irish threatened to score in the second, but the 49ers kept the game even at zero off a strikeout.
Notre Dame did take the lead off a Brooks double in the top of the fourth inning, but two consecutive sacrifices flies put the 49ers on top in the bottom of the fifth.
Not to be deterred, junior infielder Morgan Reed hit an RBI triple to tie the game at two and the score remained tied after seven innings.
In the ninth inning, Notre Dame put another run on the board, thanks to an RBI double by sophomore infielder M.K. Bonamy. But another dramatic victory was denied by a walk-off double from junior 49ers infielder Lauren Lombardi.
Notre Dame’s second day at the tournament proved to be more smooth, as the Irish took down both South Dakota and San Diego State.
Brooks took the mound against the Coyotes (1-4) and gave up only one run in the game, in addition to knocking a triple to right field in the second inning. The Irish broke through in the bottom of the third frame, however, with Wester reaching on an infield hit and scoring on an RBI single from her sister, sophomore second baseman Ali Wester.
Later in the fifth inning, Ali Wester also scored off a single by Reed and Notre Dame staved off a late comeback attempt to win 2-1.
In the last game of the tournament, the Irish defeated the Aztecs (2-3) with a score of 5-2. Bucking its trend, Notre Dame got on the board in the first inning with another RBI single from Reed to score Ali Wester.
The Aztecs answered back in the bottom of the second inning, but Notre Dame broke the game open a few frames later with a three-run home run by sophomore infielder Melissa Rochford to make it a 4-1 game.
From there, Beriont and the Irish were able to keep the Aztecs quiet to take away a 5-2 win.
However, Notre Dame ended its road trip on a negative note, losing 8-0 to No. 8 UCLA in Los Angeles. The Bruins (5-0) jumped on senior pitcher Rachel Nasland, putting up three straight hits to score the first runs of the game in the first inning. Nasland battled back and kept the Bruins off the board in the second and third frames.
But UCLA broke the game wide open in the fourth inning, scoring four runs. In the fifth, the Bruins did not let up and a triple from senior infielder Delaney Spaulding scored two runs to end the game.
The Irish next take the field in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, as they take on Minnesota and Michigan.