The softball team hosted nearby Western Michigan on Wednesday evening at Melissa Cook Stadium in an unranked, out-of-conference matchup. Following a successful weekend against fellow ACC member Louisville, in which the Irish (19-10, 3-3 ACC) took two out of three games, head coach Deanna Gumpf and her squad continued their winning ways against a lesser opponent in the Broncos (7-13, 0-0 Mid-American). In the end, Notre Dame prevailed by a score of 11-4 and was able to seize control of the game despite behind early.
The game started off with a bang as Western Michigan sophomore pitcher Sydney Stefanick sent one over the left-field fence in the top of the first, surprising freshman starter Payton Tidd, who had only given up four homers in 74 innings of work prior to Stefanick’s blast. The Irish bats were silenced in the bottom half of the inning, but they broke through in the second with a game-tying, two-RBI single by freshman right fielder Emma Clark. Tidd bounced back after giving up the long ball in the first and did not allow another run in her outing, finishing with three strikeouts and sacrificing only four hits and two earned runs in four innings on the bump.
Irish senior pitcher Caitlyn Brooks loads up in the box during the first game of a double-header between Notre Dame and Louisville on March 23. The Irish prevailed in both contests by a score of 9-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, the flood gates opened for the Irish offense. Junior second baseman Katie Marino got things going with an RBI double down the left-field line and scored a run herself via an RBI single by senior Caitlyn Brooks in the very next at bat. Freshman catcher Shelby Grimm proceeded to score later on in the inning due to an errant throw by the Broncos sophomore catcher Logan Carter, pushing the Irish lead to 5-2. The bottom of the fourth inning also featured a three-run home run by senior first baseman MK Bonamy to make it 8-2, which was followed by a solo shot off the bat of sophomore pinch hitter Sarah Genz.
Western Michigan made their best attempt at a comeback in the fifth as Stefanick collected her third RBI of the day on a single into center, and junior center fielder Kaylen Glenfield doubled to left to score another. Notre Dame’s sophomore bullpen tandem in Alexis Holloway and Morgan Ryan managed to keep the damage to a minimum, limiting the Broncos to four runs total on the day, two of which were credited to Tidd. The Irish added two more runs in the fifth on Marino’s fifth home run of the year, which would be the last run of the 11-4 Notre Dame victory. Tidd got the win, improving her impressive record to 10-3 on the year while Stefanick (4-4) took the loss for Western Michigan.
The team’s next action will be at the Skytop Softball Stadium in Syracuse, New York, as they take on ACC-foe Syracuse. Currently, Notre Dame is 3-3 in ACC play, a small advantage over Syracuse’s 2-4 in-conference record. The Orange are 12-18 overall but have won three in a row after dropping six of the previous seven. Syracuse also has yet to take a game from a ranked opponent, whereas the Irish have signature wins against No. 3 Florida State and No. 2 Washington. The Irish are 16-4 in their last 20 games — a mark that speaks volumes about how this team has developed over the season.