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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame completes perfect weekend in Florida

In its final major nonconference tournament, Notre Dame swept its competition, winning five straight games at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Irish (12-7) started their weekend Friday with a close 11-9 win over UMass, but from there, it was smooth sailing.

Notre Dame bested Fordham 8-0 to end Friday. Then on Saturday, the Irish beat UC Santa Barbara 10-2 and followed it up with wins over FIU and Robert Morris by scores of 4-1 and 10-0, respectively, to finish the weekend.

In three of Notre Dame’s games (Fordham, UC Santa Barbara and Robert Morris), the Irish won in just five innings via mercy rule.

Despite the lack of drama later in the weekend, the Irish had to play a close game against the Minutemen (7-6).

The Irish took an early 3-0 lead thanks to RBIs from sophomore outfielder Alexis Bazos and junior outfielder Ali Wester. The team continued to add to the lead in the top of the third inning, with a series of hits capped by a two-run home run by senior shortstop Morgan Reed to make it 7-0.

Irish senior shortstop Morgan Reed chases down a baserunner during Notre Dame’s fall scrimmage with Alabama-Huntsville on Oct. 7 at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Irish senior shortstop Morgan Reed chases down a baserunner during Notre Dame’s fall scrimmage with Alabama-Huntsville on Oct. 7 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

UMass mounted a furious comeback, however, and tied it up at 7-7 heading into the top of the sixth inning. The Irish edged ahead 8-7, but the Minutemen roared back to a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the frame. Then, in the top of the seventh, the Irish loaded the bases and got one run on a wild pitch. Then, junior first basemen MK Bonamy cleared the bases and gave the Irish the 11-9 victory with a single up the middle.

Bonamy’s offense was a key factor in the Irish victory. The Hoover, Alabama, native recorded a .750 batting average over the weekend’s first day, with two RBIs and three runs scored. Back on Feb. 20, Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said Bonamy’s emergence is no surprise.

“MK would have been a big factor last year, but she was injured, so she’s seeing the time she probably earned last year,” Gumpf said. “MK provides a lot of power — she’s got great bat speed. She’s a very dynamic player.”

Bonamy has started all 19 games this season and is hitting .345 on the season.

Against Fordham (4-11) in the second game Friday, the Irish chipped away, racking up runs in four out of the five innings in the game. On the mound, freshman right-handed pitcher Alexis Holloway threw a complete game shutout.

On Saturday, fellow freshman right-hander Morgan Ryan got her first career start against UC Santa Barbara (8-12) and allowed two runs in just over two innings of work. On offense, freshman center fielder Abby Sweet lead the team with three hits in four at-bats, including two runs and an RBI. Sweet has jumped her season average to .397, good for second on the team.

Notre Dame’s second game Saturday was the second and final game of the weekend which had to go the full seven innings, as the Irish took a 4-1 win over FIU (12-10). Holloway was on the mound again for the Irish and pitched the full seven innings, allowing only two hits in the game. Bazos knocked in a two-run single in the second inning to give Notre Dame an early lead it would not relinquish.

With four wins under their belts, the Irish finished their weekend with a 10-0 rout of Robert Morris (3-12). Five Irish hitters tallied RBIs, with junior outfielder Cait Brooks leading the team with four on the day. Holloway and senior left-hander Katie Beriont split the game on the mound.

On the weekend, Notre Dame outscored its opponents by a 43-12 margin and six Irish hitters hit over .400 in the fives games.

With the sweep, Notre Dame wraps up its nonconference slate of weekend travel. The Irish start their season with a 12-7 record, with some losses coming to nationally-ranked programs. Gumpf said the heavy travel schedule helps her team form chemistry and teaches it to win on the road.

“It builds a lot of chemistry, you get to know each other on a different level,” Gumpf said Feb. 20. “And you learn to win on the road. Winning on the road is not easy. The best thing that comes out of these early tournaments is winning big games on the road and knowing we can.”

Next up for Notre Dame will be the start of ACC play with a road series against North Carolina State this weekend, followed by a series of three games against North Florida and Jacksonville.