Irish softball notches important series win over Virginia Tech
J.J. Post | Monday, April 17, 2023
Notre Dame softball scored a major series win over the weekend, taking two of three games against Virginia Tech in South Bend.
The Virginia Tech Hokies entered the series ranked nationally by all outlets that submit Top 25 ballots.
With a 9-1 triumph over Indiana on Wednesday, the Irish end the week with three ranked wins.
Notre Dame’s RPI, a critical factor in NCAA tournament selection, has begun to soar though the Irish had struggled to climb the RPI rankings until this past week. Even as the team’s record improved, Notre Dame remained stuck in the low 40s and high 50s in national RPI. However, with the wins over Virginia Tech and Indiana, the Irish have risen 15 places in the last week.
RPI isn’t the only ranking Notre Dame climbed as a result of the series victory. The Irish are now up to sixth in the ACC standings, a steady improvement from the team’s up-and-down start. Missed opportunities against Syracuse and Pittsburgh left Notre Dame with ground to make up, but back-to-back series wins over quality Virginia Tech and Louisville teams prove that there’s more to this Irish team than its sluggish start showed.
The MVP of the Virginia Tech series for Notre Dame was graduate student pitcher Payton Tidd. Tidd earned the start in both games one and three for the Irish, taking home wins in both. Throwing a total of 12 innings in two days, Tidd has now thrown complete games in each of her last three starts.
A veteran who has been a staple in Notre Dame’s rotation for five years now, Tidd’s durability is a known quality. But her ability over the most recent stretch of the season to dominate games and allow for younger pitchers Micaela Kastor and Shannon Becker to rest cannot be overstated. Tidd seems well on her way to her most high-usage campaign since her freshman year in 2018-19.
The Irish will now have a major chance to climb the ACC standings further with a road series against Boston College on deck. The Eagles have struggled this season, and currently sit in the conference cellar with a 2-13 ACC record. Notre Dame has failed twice now to capitalize on series with teams in the bottom half of the conference. A third slip-up could have serious ramifications on tournament seeding.
A sweep would give the Irish a fighting chance at a top-four finish in the conference. A loss, however, would all but ensure Notre Dame’s place in the middle of the pack come the end of the regular season. Further, the team’s recently improved RPI would take a serious hit.
Notre Dame softball will be back in action Friday when the Irish take on Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. First pitch is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.