Notre Dame softball crushes Western Michigan to earn tenth-consecutive home win
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, April 8, 2021
The Notre Dame softball team earned their tenth-straight victory at home Wednesday night in an 8-1 triumph over Western Michigan. This win comes off of a four-game losing streak against Florida State over the weekend.
Over the course of the game, Notre Dame (18-12, 10-10 ACC) forced four errors from Western Michigan (8-18, 4-9 ACC) and had 13 hits compared to WMU’s five.
It was the pitching staff that proved themselves to be especially vital in this matchup, both in the circle and at the plate. Senior pitcher Alexis Holloway, junior pitcher Payton Tidd, and senior pitcher Morgan Ryan all contributed to limiting the Broncos to one run the entire game.
In the first inning, WMU was unable to score. When the Irish stepped up to the plate, junior outfielder Emma Clark stole her first of three bases of the day and eventually made it home off of a hit from graduate student Katie Marino.
WMU quickly responded with a home run in the top of the second; this would be their only score of the game. Freshman infielder Cassidy Grimm contributed two outs in the field, and a strikeout from Holloway ended Western Michigan’s at-bat.
By the time the third rolled around, the score remained 1-1. In the top of the inning, two standout performances from Marino and graduate student infielder Chelsea Purcell prevented the Broncos from getting on the board again. Marino dove for the ball and rolled it to Purcell at second base to gain an out, while another diving catch by Purcell ensured that the score was still tied heading into the Irish at-bat. Despite Clark’s stealing second again, no one made it home that inning for Notre Dame.
In the fourth inning, a second home run from Holloway put the Irish up 2-1. Purcell followed by faking a bunt to put her on first. During senior outfielder Abby Sweet’s at-bat, Western Michigan’s attempt to get Purcell out proved futile after an overshot throw allowed her to steal second, and a double from Sweet quickly sent her home to make the score 3-1. Sweet restarted her on-base streak after her previous one ended against Florida State.
The fifth inning served as the turning point for the Irish and the climax of the game. Tidd took over in the circle, and the defensive side of play continued to be a force to be reckoned with, especially in the infield. The Irish made quick work of their opponent in the inning without a score against them and only one hit from WMU. That was when the surge of runs for Notre Dame began. Sophomore outfielder Leea Hanks’s hit flew over the third baseman, and a double from Tidd sent Marino home. The pitchers continued to prove their worth, as a bunt from Holloway surprised the Western Michigan defense and Hanks made it home.
This did little to stop the momentum for Notre Dame. Holloway stole second, and a double from senior infielder Sarah Genz scored Tidd and Holloway. A single from Clark allowed Genz to advance from third after a serious bobble by WMU. By the end of the inning, the Irish were up 8-1; one more run would end the game, enacting the eight-run mercy rule. However, though the bases were loaded, a final out eliminated this possibility.
In the sixth, Tidd remained in play after a pitch was returned directly to her hand by the Broncos batter. Both teams were quickly ousted at-bat, leading to the seventh and final inning. Ryan rounded out the game in the circle, coming off of a seven-run cushion for the team. She came in hot, and three consecutive outs, two of which were strikeouts, sealed the game and another Notre Dame win.
Coming off of this victory, the Irish were set to host a home series against No. 18 Clemson this weekend. However, this game and Notre Dame’s later matchup with Loyola-Chicago have been cancelled out of an abundance of caution due to positive tests within the Notre Dame program. Therefore, their next contest is now slated to be Friday, Apr. 16 at home against Virginia.