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Sports

Irish softball drop two of three in first ACC series of the season to UVA

| Sunday, March 13, 2022

In their first ACC series of the season, the Irish fell to the Cavaliers, ultimately going 1-2 in the series. Notre Dame led early on Friday but ultimately fell to UVA 7-5, and 6-1 as the Cavaliers found their momentum. Roughly 36 hours later, the Irish shifted gears and scored late in the final game to win 3-2. 

Irish step out swinging but can’t hold off a late Cavalier surge

Junior left fielder Leea Hanks tried to set a tone for the Irish offense in the first game. She finished with three hits, one for each at-bat and they resulted in two doubles and a run scored. She walked in her other plate appearance.

Graduate student first baseman Sarah Genz and sophomore third baseman Cassidy Grimm would swing for an RBI each. But, it was senior right fielder Emma Clark who would snag two of them, bringing home junior pinch hitter Joley Mitchell and senior catcher Shelby Grimm. 

The Irish held a 1-0 lead through the first four innings but the Cavaliers scored two in the fifth. This didn’t seem to be a problem for the Irish who answered in the top of the sixth with 4 runs of their own. Things fell apart though for graduate student pitcher Alexis Holloway in the seventh. The Cavaliers scored 5 times to earn a walk-off win over the Irish, 7-5.  

In her 6.2 innings, Holloway allowed eight hits and seven earned runs. She managed five strikeouts but six walks on the game. 

Cavaliers ride momentum through doubleheader

The situation in the circle did not go any smoother for the Irish in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader. 

Senior pitcher Payton Tidd also allowed eight hits, with six runs — three of them earned. She struck out three batters and walked two after facing 28. 

The first four Cavalier runs came in the second, followed by two in the fifth. While the Irish had four hits, they only converted on one of them. Despite that, they tried to pull the same late-game lead change the Cavaliers had earlier in the day. In a seventh-inning effort, sophomore first baseman Karina Gaskins launched a home run — her fifth of the season. 

Gaskin’s performance wouldn’t be enough to change the course of the game though. The Irish fell 6-1, closing Friday with two losses. 

Irish shift momentum away from Cavaliers

After a day away from action, the Irish stepped out of the gate with two runs in the first. 

The early scores came from the offensive leadership that resides in the outfield. Hanks opened with a single. Two batters later, it was graduate student centerfielder Abby Sweet who launched a home run and brought Hanks home with her. This was Sweet’s fourth home run of the season. 

The rest of the game was pretty quiet for the Irish on the offensive end. They saw six hits total. In the bottom of the third, the Cavaliers tried to steal the momentum, much like they had on Friday, scoring 2 runs to tie it up. But freshman pitcher Shannon Becker stepped up for all seven innings allowing just the two runs — both of them earned — and striking out five batters. 

After a lull of scoring in innings four, five and six, the Irish sealed the deal in a joint effort from freshman pinch hitter Jane Kronenberger, Hanks and Clark. Kronenberger hit a single on the first pitch she was thrown in that at-bat. A ground out moved Kronenberger to second and Hanks got her to third on another single. And finally, a ground ball from Clark towards third sent Kronenberger sliding into home. 

While going 17-6 to open the season, the Irish start out 1-2 in the ACC because of the Cavaliers. 

The Irish will have two chances to get back on their feet before another ACC series against Duke this coming weekend. Tuesday, the Irish take on Detroit Mercy in Notre Dame’s first home game of the season. The two teams will shake the snow off Melissa Cook Stadium at 5 p.m. Then, on Wednesday, the Irish are home again at 5 p.m. to take on Western Michigan. 

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