#20 Irish softball falls to #4 Florida State 3-1 In ACC Final

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The fight never left the University of Notre Dame softball team the entire weekend of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship at the Maryland Softball Stadium. The Irish tied the game in the top of the fourth inning against one of the best pitchers in the country, but a powerful No. 4 Florida State lineup scored two runs in the game’s final three frames to earn a 3-1 conference tournament win on an overcast Saturday afternoon.

No. 20 Notre Dame (39-11) awaits seeding for the 2014 NCAA Championship, which will be announced on Sunday at 10 p.m. (ET). NFCA National Freshman of the Year Top 10 finalist Karley Wester and all-ACC first team selection Laura Winter represented the Irish on the all-ACC Championship Team.

With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, ACC Player of the Year Maddie O’Brien nailed a solo home run that just got over the outfield fence in center, putting Florida State (50-6) on top 1-0. Kelly Hensley then clubbed a pitch out to center field, but junior All-American Emilee Koerner chased it down for the inning’s final out.

Winter (27-5) worked an effective bottom of the second, retiring Victoria East and Celeste Gomez on strikes before grounding Alex Kossoff out back to the circle to offset a fielding error, keeping the Seminoles scoreless.

It was more of the same for the Irish defense in the bottom of the third inning, as Winter induced three straight fly ball outs to set aside the Seminoles order. Victoria Daddis fouled out to junior Katey Haus in third base foul ground, Tiffani Brown flew out to senior Lauren Stuhr in right field and Courtney Senas lofted the third out to Stuhr in the right center gap.

Notre Dame broke through for its first hit of the game in the top of the fourth inning, as Koerner lined her 24th double of the season down the right field line off Lacey Waldrop (33-4) with two outs. Haus cashed in the chance with a sharp single up the middle, and a diving Koerner at the plate slid under the tag of Florida State catcher Gomez, tying the contest at 1-1.

With two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the fourth, the ACC Championship Most Valuable Player Gomez lined a hard single off the wall in center, bringing pinch runner Lauren Harris across to give Florida State the lead back at 2-1. Winter rebounded with a strikeout of pinch hitter Alex Powers to strand two Seminole runners on the base paths.

Senas added another run for Florida State in the bottom of the fifth, clubbing a solo home run over the wall in left center field (3-1).

Florida State pushed a runner as far as second base in the bottom of the sixth inning, but a nice snag on the run by Saganowich in between third base and shortstop took away a potential Seminole run, getting Winter and Notre Dame out of the inning.

Koerner opened the top of the seventh with her second hit of the day against Waldrop to bring the tying run to the plate. The ACC Pitcher of the Year responded in kind, logging three straight outs to close the ballgame.

Winter threw her 26th complete game of the season, striking out four batters on 98 pitches. Koerner added two hits and her run scored, with Haus adding a run batted in.


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