Irish rebound with series win over ACC rival Cardinals
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, March 25, 2019
After having their nine-game winning streak snapped in an overall series loss to then-No. 1 Florida State, Notre Dame bounced back over the weekend, ultimately securing the series victory over ACC-foe Louisville. The Irish (18-10, 3-3 ACC) took each of the first two games by a score of 9-1 before dropping the finale of the three-game series to the Cardinals (20-10, 3-3 ACC) 5-3. The red-hot Irish have now won 12 of their last 15 contests.
In the first game of the doubleheader Saturday, Notre Dame got off to a quick start. The Irish plated three runs in the bottom of the first thanks to a bases-clearing double by senior first baseman MK Bonamy. Bonamy’s double provided all the insurance that would be needed for starting freshman pitcher Payton Tidd, as the slinger tossed five spectacular innings, giving up only four hits to go along with five strikeouts. The only run for the Cardinals came behind a throwing error from freshman catcher Shelby Grimm in the second inning on a double-steal attempt, and thus Tidd — whose season record moved to 9-3 after the victory — did not give up an earned run on the day.
The Irish had five players drive in a run on the game, most notably of which was a monster solo home run into the left-field bleachers by freshman shortstop Quinn Biggio. Notre Dame sent the two teams to game two earlier than expected, as an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth from sophomore pitcher Morgan Ryan — who pitched an inning in relief of Tidd — ended the contest via the mercy rule.
Notre Dame struck first in the second game as well when senior Caitlyn Brooks, the designated hitter for the game, nailed an RBI single, giving the Irish a one-run lead after an inning of play. Brooks was 2-2 for the game and drew one walk. The rest of the damage for the Irish came in the bottom of the fifth, as the team tallied eight runs from six different players. Senior left-fielder Ali Wester had a productive day at the plate for Notre Dame, going 3-4 while driving in three runs and scoring two of her own. Wester moved her batting average up to .408 on the season. This contest was once again cut short after just five innings, as the Irish forced the mercy rule on Louisville yet again. Sophomore pitcher Alexis Holloway got the win for the Irish, moving her record to 8-5 on the year. Holloway pitched all five innings and gave up just two hits without surrendering an earned run.
In the series finale, Louisville took the lead early and never looked back. Holloway was once again on the mound for Notre Dame, but gave up four earned runs on five hits over just 3 1/3 innings of work before Tidd took over and silenced the Cardinals’ bats, albeit too late. For the Cardinals, senior catcher Madison Cousineau opened up the scoring with an RBI double in the second. Sophomore first-baseman Kyra Snyder added two more runs for Louisville on a single before coming around to score on a wild pitch in the fourth. The Irish sparked a comeback in the bottom half of the fourth on RBI singles from Biggio and senior third-baseman Melissa Rochford. Brooks added a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth to bring the Irish within one, but junior centerfielder Celene Funke gave the Cardinals a two-run lead on an RBI single in the sixth, concluded the scoring for the game. The home run for Brooks was her team-leading 12th of the year. Brooks also leads the Irish in RBIs with 29 and is second on the team with a .390 batting average. Ultimately though, the Irish fell short of the comeback to lose 5-3.
Next up the Irish host Western Michigan on Wednesday, followed by a quick turnaround to Syracuse, New York, to take on the Orange in a three-game series this weekend.