Notre Dame softball no-hits Valparaiso
Emily DeFazio | Friday, March 26, 2021
The Notre Dame softball team (13-8, 6-6 ACC) shut out Valparaiso Wednesday with a six-inning no-hitter in their first home game of the season. The game was also Notre Dame’s first home competition in almost 700 days, as the last game Notre Dame hosted was on May 5, 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic cut Notre Dame’s 2020 season short before the team could play any home games. Head Coach Deanna Gumpf spoke on the energy surrounding the first home game.
“I think there’s a lot of anticipation for [Wednesday’s] game,” Gumpf said. “Being able to walk out of our dugout and play and to be the home team…I think there’s a little nervous energy. I think there’s a lot of excitement, and I just think it’s all positive. It’s just an incredible opportunity right now.”
Gumpf most looked forward to the team making the most of the opportunity.
“I am excited to see them take the moment and run with it and be the team they want to be at home,” she said.
Coming into the matchup, the Irish held three of the top five batting averages in the ACC; with a .529 average, senior outfielder Abby Sweet holds the top spot, followed by freshman infielder Karina Gaskins in second with a .463 average, while junior outfielder Emma Clark is in fifth with a .422 average.
Hitting remained strong for the Irish against Valparaiso (5-12), with nine batters gaining 14 hits in six innings. Sweet and Gaskins recorded two hits each, while sophomore outfielder Leea Hanks also charted two hits.
The Irish led 2-0 after the first inning, as Sweet and Clark both made it home with the help of graduate student infielder Katie Marino and junior infielder Quinn Biggio. This momentum continued into the second inning. Senior pitcher Alexis Holloway’s sacrifice bunt brought graduate student infielder Chelsea Purcell to third. Then, a single from Sweet brought Purcell home to make it 3-0 in favor of Notre Dame.
In the third inning, with Gaskins and Biggio on base, Purcell cranked a home run, doubling the Irish lead to 6-0. Neither team scored in the fourth, but Purcell found home plate once more for the Irish in the fifth.
In the sixth, Marino stole second after earning a walk and made it home off a double from Hanks. The final score read 8-0.
While the batting lineup put the Irish ahead, it was Holloway that proved the star of the show. She started the game off strong with a strikeout, and with the help of senior pitcher Morgan Ryan and junior pitcher Payton Tidd, led the team to a no-hitter. Holloway delivered three consecutive swinging strikeouts in the second inning. Then, Ryan took the mound in the fourth, keeping Valparaiso off the board. In the final inning, Tidd pitched a strikeout and helped to secure an Irish victory.
The team looks ahead to a four-game series at home against NC State March 26-28.
Gumpf spoke on the mentality of the team heading into their first home series, as well as the season in general.
“I don’t think the pandemic changed anything about our philosophy,” she said. “We’ve stuck with what we think matters the most and what we think is important. But, I just think that the pandemic…what it did is it just changed your perspective a little bit on the time that we have together. I think the girls realize that you know it’s so easily taken from us. I think that they really appreciate being able to be together and being able to play the game that we love.”
Gumpf noted that it is especially meaningful to be able to play this season.
“Ending the way we ended last season was horrible because when we ended, we didn’t really know that we were ending,” Gumpf said. “We thought we might have an opportunity to still come back and play when all the girls were sent home. So it was really probably the worst ending it could be. But that didn’t change, really, our approach to how we prepared for this season.”
As for Gumpf’s hopes for the season, she commented on the strength of the team’s gameplay.
“I think our hopes are just playing good, consistent softball, and being able to put ourselves in a position to win a lot of ball games,” she said.