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Notre Dame softball completes weekend sweep of North Carolina

| Monday, April 25, 2022

This weekend Notre Dame softball picked up another three wins, sweeping North Carolina in South Bend, Indiana. 

Friday’s victory was powered by a stellar outing from Payton Tidd on the mound. The senior ace pitched a complete seven innings, striking out eight and allowing just four hits. Tidd’s win brought her total on the season to 13, and her one run allowed lowered her season ERA to 2.42.

The Irish struck first in the bottom of the second inning, when junior Joley Mitchell doubled. With Mitchell on base, all Notre Dame needed was a fielder’s choice by fellow junior Miranda Johnson to open the scoring. In the bottom of the fifth the Irish brought their lead to three after a loaded bases double by sophomore first basemen Karina Gaskins. Then, after North Carolina pushed a run across of their own in the top of the sixth, the Irish responded through an RBI triple from senior Emma Clark.

The second game of the weekend brought a bit more scoring than the first, from both squads. A seven run first inning started off with the Tar Heels bats getting hot, putting a quick three runs across the plate. The lead proved to be short lived. Notre Dame brought plenty of firepower of their own in the bottom half of the frame, with quickly loading the bases and bringing in two runs through a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch. After North Carolina pitcher Lilli Backes was removed, the scoring didn’t stop. Freshman Jane Kronenberger took the third pitch she saw from Talia Hannappel and cracked a home run over the centerfield fence. 

After a shaky first inning, Irish graduate student pitcher Alexis Holloway settled in, only allowing one more run for the rest of the contest, making it through 5.2 innings before she was relieved by freshman Shannon Becker. Notre Dame got the bats going again in the third, with junior outfielder Leea Hanks’s home run pushing the Irish score to six. Following another sacrifice fly, the Irish entered the fourth holding a 7-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

The final contest of the series on Sunday proved to be the closest of the weekend. North Carolina opened the scoring in the third inning off an error by the Irish. But Notre Dame responded one inning later, tying the game through a Kronenberger single. The Irish would take a lead in the fifth after a throwing error that brought home Johnson followed by a Leea, Clark double.

But in the sixth inning, North Carolina would complete a comeback of their own for the first time in the series. Down two, Taylor Greene gave the Tar Heels just what they needed with a two-run home run. But the ever-resilient Irish would once again respond, this time in walk-off fashion. With two outs, and the bases loaded, Kronenberger fought her way through a five-pitch walk, bringing the winning run home and ending the series with a sweep.

Next up Notre Dame will face a pair of out of conference tests during the midweek at home, with Toledo visiting Melissa Cook Stadium on Tuesday and in-state rival Purdue traveling to South Bend on Wednesday.

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