Irish go 1-1 in weekend series against No. 24 Arkansas
Meagan Bens | Tuesday, May 2, 2017
The Irish hosted No. 24 Arkansas last weekend for their annual Strikeout Cancer series and came out with a win, a loss and a cancellation.
Although Notre Dame (29-19, 11-10 ACC) came back from their 10-2 road win over Northwestern on Tuesday, its momentum did not carry on over to the first game against Arkansas (30-19, 6-15 SEC) on Saturday, resulting in a 13-2 loss.
“Northwestern gave us confidence we know we had, and it should have carried momentum, but it didn’t show until the second game,” Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “ … Our team knows we can beat anyone if we play our game. I am sure that our team thinks we can win any on any given day, if we show up.”
After the 13-2 setback, the Irish gained a lead in the bottom of the fifth inning and fought until the last out to earn a 6-5 win in Saturday’s second game at Melissa Cook Stadium.
“It starts on the mound and we just challenged the pitchers and said, ‘you know what, you can’t give a team 10 base runners and try to win ball games, so let’s compete,’” Gumpf said. “I thought [senior pitcher] Rachel [Nasland] did a great job of competing and that carried over. The team knew we could hit their pitching. They knew that we were going to make things happen and our offense did a great job of continuing to battle until we found a way.”
Notre Dame took the game into their hands during the bottom of the fifth after senior center fielder Karley Wester drove in a one-out RBI and junior shortstop Morgan Reed drilled a home run to create a 5-1 lead.
“Morgan hadn’t had a great day prior to that, but Morgan is so solid and great thing about her is that she has done a great job on keeping things level,” Gumpf said. “She is being consistent and keeping things level — not too high, not too low — slowing things down, taking a nice deep breath and slowing down the pitch. I think that is contributing to her successes hitting-wise this year.”
After Notre Dame established a significant lead, the Razorbacks had a three-run home run that pulled them back to a one point game of 5-4. Forcing three consecutive outs, Nasland stopped Arkansas from taking the game. In the bottom of the sixth, senior infielder Kimmy Sullivan hit a single and was later brought in by junior infielder Sara White as she blasted a RBI double, bringing the Irish to a 6-4 lead. Although the Razorbacks snatched a RBI double in the top of the seventh to make the score 6-5, Nasland brought the game to a close.
“At this time of the year, we are doing everything we can to make sure we secure ourselves a good position in the postseason,” Gumpf said. “And a win over Arkansas helped us do that. At this point we need to find ways to win, however that is. The girls realize that, and if we continue to take it literally one inning at a time, we do a better job of that. I think when we look at the big picture we think, ‘Whoa, that’s too much,’ so we really are trying to focus on one inning at a time and I think we did that really well during the second game against Arkansas.”
Next up for the Irish is a Wednesday matchup against Butler at home.