Irish clinch series with doubleheader sweep over Virginia, mount seventh-inning comeback in game 2
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame Softball (21-12, 12-10 ACC) earned two wins in the doubleheader Saturday, topping Virginia (13-24, 9-19 ACC) 6-3 in the first game, followed by a 3-2 seventh-inning comeback win in the second game. The Irish extend the home win streak to 13 games, and secure the series win heading into Sunday’s finale after having won Friday’s contest as well.
Senior Alexis Holloway pitched a complete game in the first outing of the day, striking out six and improving to 9-6, as junior Payton Tidd followed it up with another complete-game victory, allowing just three hits and striking out three, moving to 11-5.
Graduate student Katie Marino was electric at the plate, sending two solo home runs, one in each game, to help the Irish to both victories. Marino also made her mark on defense, collecting five putouts and three assists in the second game, including an incredible lineout grab to end the top of the seventh in the second game and give the Irish a chance to rally.
Sophomore Leea Hanks led the Irish batters with four hits on the day, two in each game, and one RBI in the first outing.
GAME 1 – NOTRE DAME 6, VIRGINIA 3
With Holloway in the circle, Virginia led off with a single, and later, the runner reached second on an Irish error that also placed a runner on first. Holloway issued a walk to load the bases, and a subsequent groundout brought in a run. The next grounder went straight to Holloway, to dished it to Genz for the final out, limiting the Virginia lead to 1-0.
The Irish went three up, three down in the first, and while the Cavaliers delivered another hit, the runner was stranded on base. In the Irish half of the inning, Hanks delivered a one-out single, but herself was left on base, and the score stayed 1-0 Virginia.
Both teams were unable to score in the third inning, as the Cavaliers added two hits and senior Abby Sweet drew a walk.
In the fourth, Virginia forced a leadoff error, pushing the runner to second on a wild pitch. The runner moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly scored the runner to put Virginia up 2-0 after a subsequent groundout ended the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Marino led off with a solo home run to cut the lead in half, and freshman Karina Gaskins followed with a single. As junior Shelby Grimm entered to pinch run for Gaskins, Hanks singled and Shelby Grimm sped to third. Later, freshman Cassidy Grimm delivered a sacrifice bunt, reaching base as her sister, Shelby Grimm, made it home safely to even the score, and Hanks reached third. After Cassidy Grimm stole second, Holloway delivered a groundout to score Hanks. Immediately after, graduate student Chelsea Purcell slammed a double to score Cassidy Grimm, and the Irish ended the productive inning up 4-2.
With two outs in the fifth, Virginia delivered two-consecutive doubles to score a run, but Holloway was able to limit the damage and preserve the 4-3 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, junior Emma Clark led off with a single, reaching second on a wild pitch, and again getting to third on another wild pitch. Marino drew a HBP, later stealing second. Gaskins grounded out to score Clark, and Hanks also grounded out to score Marino. The inning ended with a 6-3 Irish lead.
The Cavaliers doubled to lead off the sixth, with the runner reaching third on a groundout, but Holloway struck out two and stranded the runner on base. After Notre Dame went three up, three down in the sixth, Holloway delivered a one-out strikeout, and while Virginia singled and then walked, Holloway struck out the next batter to earn the complete-game win.
GAME 2 – NOTRE DAME 3, VIRGINIA 2
Both squads were quiet through the first four innings, with the Cavaliers earning two hits and the Irish noting three, and no runs scored. Then in the top of the fifth, Virginia led off with two-straight singles, and a sacrifice bunt advanced both runners. A subsequent grounder scored Virginia’s first run, and a popup ended the inning with a 1-0 Cavalier lead. Notre Dame went three up, three down in the bottom half.
Virginia again struck in the sixth, with a one-out solo home run to earn a 2-0 lead. Tidd struck out the next batter, and Purcell handled the grounder to limit the damage. On the Irish side, Clark led off with a single, but was caught stealing. Marino then sent her second home run of the day to cut Virginia’s lead in half. After another out, Hanks singled, but a strikeout ended the inning.
Tidd hurled just four pitches in the top of the seventh, as Shelby Grimm dished the leadoff bunt to Marino at first for the initial out, and Tidd grabbed the second grounder. Marino then made a leaping grab to save a hit and end the inning on a lineout, sending the Irish to bat down 2-1.
Senior Sarah Genz led off and grounded out, and pinch hitter sophomore Miranda Johnson flew out. Then, with two outs, junior Quinn Biggio fired a single to reach base. Shelby Grimm entered to pinch-run, and after a 14-pitch at-bat with a whopping nine foul balls, Sweet found the ‘sweet’ spot and singled, as Shelby Grimm sped to third and beat the throw, Sweet making it to second. Clark stepped up to the plate and fired a single to score Shelby Grimm, tying the game. Finally, Marino took her pitches at the plate, drawing a 3-1 count when Virginia delivered a wild pitch and Sweet sped home to score the game-winner.
Notre Dame and Virginia return to Melissa Cook Stadium Sunday for the series finale, when the Irish will attempt the series sweep. First pitch will be at Noon ET, and the game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.