Irish stay hot at home, knock off rust with series sweep of Virginia
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, April 19, 2021
Heading into this weekend, it was safe to say that Notre Dame (22-12, 13-10 ACC) didn’t know what to expect. They were confident at home, where they boasted a 10-0 record, and were facing a lesser conference opponent in the Virginia Cavaliers (13-25, 9-20 ACC). But the Irish knew they had to bounce back after being swept in their last ACC series and coming off five consecutive cancellations due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program.
On Friday, playing in their first game in over a week, the Irish opened the series with a dominant win. Notre Dame took the lead early and closed the door with a scoring surge in the fifth inning. Junior Payton Tidd was a force in the circle, getting her 10th win of the season by a score of 7-1. She tallied five strikeouts, gave up only three hits and did not allow an earned run.
Senior center-fielder Abby Sweet and graduate student second-baseman Katie Marino were an extremely productive duo at the plate. Sweet tallied three hits and three runs, with Marino driving her in each time.
In the Saturday doubleheader, the Irish needed to rally in both games. Heading into the bottom of the fourth inning in the first game, Notre Dame trailed 2-0. Sparked by a leadoff solo homerun from Katie Marino, the Irish scored four in the frame and weathered the storm to win 6-3. Senior Alexis Holloway pitched a complete game and struck out six along the way to improve to 10-6 on the year.
The Irish comeback appeared much later in the second game, as the Irish trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. A ground out and a fly out left them with two outs and nobody on. Junior Quinn Biggio connected for a single to start the rally, and Shelby Grimm entered to pinch-run. Abby Sweet then grinded out a 14 pitch at-bat that featured 9 foul balls until she found the pitch she wanted and singled. Grimm showcased her speed and beat the throw to third, allowing Sweet to advance to second. Both would end up scoring after an Emma Clark single and walk-off wild pitch, clinching the series in dramatic fashion by a score of 3-2. Payton Tidd was again dominant, pitching a complete game and allowing just five hits, moving to 11-5 on the year.
While Virginia jumped out to an early lead in the final game on Sunday, the Irish ensured similar drama did not ensue. Freshman Karina Gaskins hit a two-run home run to give the Irish the lead in the third inning, and the Irish took control from there. Taking the game by a score of 5-1, Notre Dame swept the Cavaliers and improved to 14-0 at home. Holloway earned her 10th win of the season, allowing just two hits in the complete game effort.
The Irish will look to ride the high of what was one of their most complete weekends of the year into a busy and tough week of games. They will try to extend their home winning streak when they face the DePaul Blue Demons (19-9, 10-1 Big East) on April 21st before traveling to Blacksburg, Virginia on the 23rd for a four-game weekend series against the Virginia Tech Hokies (28-7, 19-7 ACC).