Irish come up with victory in pitcher’s duel
Marek Mazurek | Thursday, March 30, 2017
Notre Dame made it a five-game winning streak Wednesday as the Irish defeated non-conference opponent Eastern Michigan 1-0.
Neither the Irish (17-13, 4-5 ACC) nor the Eagles (12-15, 1-2 MAC) could muster much offense in the contest as both teams combined to strand 13 runners on base on only six hits.
“I have to be honest, we haven’t had a 1-0 ballgame all year. It was fun,” Gumpf said. “It was kind of awesome to have this game and win it. I loved it; I’ll take it. The game of softball, you never can predict. These are two offensively driven teams and to have a 1-0 ballgame, hey I’ll take it.”
The highlight of the day was the Irish pitching as junior Katie Beriont, sophomore Caitlyn Brooks and senior Rachel Nasland all saw action in the game, with Beriont starting and Nasland getting the win.
Between Beriont, Brooks and Nasland, the trio let up only three hits and three walks and combined for eight strikeouts. Most importantly, however, the Irish pitchers left seven Eastern Michigan runners on base.
“Katie Beriont, I loved her presence today,” Gumpf said. “She did a great job setting the tone. I think that actually made it easier for Cait [Brooks] and Rachel [Nasland] because they felt they had Katie’s confidence going in. I thought Katie Beriont definitely led the way today with her presence.”
Beriont struck out the side in the game’s first inning. In Notre Dame’s half of the inning, sophomore left fielder Ali Wester laced a single to left field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Brooks walked and sophomore third baseman Melissa Rochford took a pitch to her elbow to load the bases with two outs.
But freshman second baseman Katie Marino lined a ball straight to the Eagles’ center fielder to strand the three Irish base runners.
The second frame presented slightly more trouble for Beriont as a walk and an error put runners on first and second. But Beriont struck out the next Eagles’ hitter to escape the inning with no runs allowed.
But in the bottom of the second, the Irish bats showed signs of life. Senior right fielder Kimmy Sullivan hit a double to right-center field and moved to third off a sacrifice bunt. Senior captain Karley Wester walked to put runners on first and third with two outs. Eastern Michigan brought in sophomore pitcher Nicolle Miranda to pitch to Ali Wester. Wester grounded to third, though and the game remained scoreless.
Brooks swapped in to pitch the third frame and struck out the first batter before running into trouble. Brooks gave up a single and a walk in the inning, but got Eagles junior second baseman Brandice Olmos to fly out to right field to end the inning.
The Eagles again threatened in the top of the fourth as sophomore third baseman Amanda Akles walked and moved to second on a bunt. Yet again, though, Brooks found her way out of the inning with a strikeout.
The Irish offense left six runners on base through four innings. Gumpf said she would have liked to see more adjustments over the course of the game.
“Sometimes it’s going to happen,” Gumpf said. “Sometimes they’re not going to see the ball really well and today they didn’t. We have to make better adjustments at the plate and we talked about that.”
The Irish finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth frame as Karley Wester led off the inning with a walk and stole second base, her 11th steal of the year. Ali Wester advanced her sister to third with a sacrifice bunt and Brooks stepped to the plate. Brooks hit a ball to left field which was deep enough to plate Wester for a sacrifice fly and a one run lead for Notre Dame.
Nasland was able to close out the game for the Irish with a scoreless seventh inning and give Notre Dame the 1-0 victory.
Next up for Notre Dame is an ACC road series with Louisville which will take place this weekend.