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ND Softball

Irish topple No. 6 Wildcats behind Tidd’s gem

| Wednesday, April 6, 2022

2022 has been a year of streaks for Notre Dame softball. And, after their most impressive victory of the season, the Irish look bent on starting another one. The Irish already ripped off a pair of nine-game winning streaks en route to a 28-7 start this season. They boast wins over No. 8 Duke, No. 15 Texas and No. 22 LSU. After losing on Friday night, the Irish walked it off in consecutive extra-inning wins over Georgia Tech. Looking to take that momentum into their midweek clash, No. 24 Notre Dame welcomed their highest-ranked opponent of the year: No. 6 Northwestern. 

Behind a gem from senior pitcher Payton Tidd and a tie-breaking RBI double from junior left-fielder Leea Hanks, the Irish toppled the Wildcats 3-2. Tidd fired a complete game, scattering five hits and giving up only two runs. She didn’t issue a walk and struck out five. She improved to 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA. Offensively, Hanks went 2-4 to improve her batting average to .374. She had the Irish’s only multi-hit effort, as the team mustered eight hits on the day. Freshman designated hitter Jane Kronenberger and junior shortstop Brooke Marquez also recorded RBIs. 

How it happened

The pitcher’s duel got off to a quick start. Tidd retired the first six she faced. Notre Dame recorded a hit in each of the first two frames but didn’t advance a runner past second base. Northwestern put a pair on base in the second, but Tidd picked up a huge strikeout to strand the runners. Senior right-fielder Emma Clark sparked the Irish in the third with a one-out single, advancing to second on a hit batter. A fielder’s choice cut down Clark and kept two runners on base with two outs. However, Kronenberger drilled an offering down the left-field line for a run-scoring double. 

Unfortunately for the Irish, their lead didn’t even last an inning. Northwestern left fielder Angela Zedak turned on Tidd’s lone mistake of the afternoon, launching a two-run home run. That gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead they would maintain into the sixth inning. The Irish went down in order in the fourth and stranded two runners in the fifth. 

In the sixth, Tidd worked around a leadoff single, inducing two infield flies to end the inning harmlessly. Junior second baseman Miranda Johnson led the Irish half of the inning off with a single, moving to second on a walk. Tidd helped her own cause by laying down a beauty of a sacrifice bunt, and the Irish were back in business. Marquez then drilled a pitched toward the shortstop. It wasn’t fielded cleanly, and the runner scored. Marquez earned the RBI, but she didn’t get a hit in the official scorebook. Then, with runners on the corners and one out, Hanks provided the difference-maker. She laced a pitch to dead-center field for an RBI double and a 3-2 Notre Dame lead. 

The Irish couldn’t push any insurance runs across, but Tidd did not need them. Facing Zedak to start the inning, Tidd induced a soft ground out to third base. Then, the senior recorded strikeouts No. 4 and No. 5 on the afternoon to seal the deal. The win gives the Irish three straight and a 28-7 record. They now embark on a seven-game road trip, starting with a pair of ACC series. They’ll face Syracuse, No. 19 Clemson and Indiana in that stretch. They return home on April 22 to face North Carolina. 

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About Aidan Thomas

A junior marketing and ACMS major at Notre Dame, I've countered the success I've enjoyed as a New England sports fan with the painful existence of a Notre Dame football fan.

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