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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Observer

Irish post offensive explosion, win home series v. NC State

Notre Dame played a three-game series against North Carolina State this past weekend, taking 2-of-3 games to win the series. Behind the bats of senior third baseman Melissa Rochford, senior designated player Cait Brooks and sophomore center fielder Abby Sweet, the Irish offense exploded, and the squad collected 28 hits and scoring 27 runs over the weekend.

The series against the Wolfpack (23-20, 4-11 ACC) opened Friday evening at Melissa Cook Stadium, and the Irish got off to a hot start. After freshman pitcher Payton Tidd threw a scoreless first inning, Notre Dame (26-14, 9-6 ACC) jumped out to an early lead. The Irish managed to get two runners on base, stringing together hits, fielder’s choices and a hit by pitch early in the bottom of the first. With two on, Sweet crushed the 1-2 offering to give the Irish an early 3-0 lead.

Tidd continued to shut down NC State, throwing a scoreless second and third inning. Notre Dame added to its lead in the bottom of the third, when Rochford scored off of freshman shortstop Quinn Biggio’s sacrifice fly to left field. Tidd shut down the Wolfpack again in the top of the fourth, throwing only six pitches in a three up-three down inning.

Allison Thornton | The Observer
Irish junior second baseman Katie Marino prepares to field the ball during Notre Dame's 8-0 win over IUPUI on Apr. 2nd.

Notre Dame continued to add to its lead, and batted around the order in a huge fourth inning. Brooks started the scoring with a two-RBI double to left centerfield. Two pitches later, Rochford went yard with a three-run home run, increasing the Irish lead to 9-0. The Irish strung together some more hits in the inning, and ended up adding two more runs before the Wolfpack got the third out.

In the top of the 5th inning, NC State was finally able to figure out Tidd, who gave up four hits on the night, and get some offense going. NC State scored two runs, cutting the Notre Dame lead to 11-2. However, the Wolfpack effort was too little, too late as the game was called after only five innings.

The squads played a double-header on Saturday, in an attempt to beat the impending rain of Sunday. The first game did not go in the favor of the Irish. NC State flipped the script from Friday, and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, after a three-run home run. The Irish would play catch up and cut the lead to 3-1 after Rochford hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first.

After a scoreless second inning by both teams, the Wolfpack scored another run in the third inning, reclaiming a three-run lead over the Irish. In the bottom of the third, Sweet cut into this deficit with an RBI single, making the score 4-2.

The Irish continued to chase the Wolfpack, and brought the game within one run in the bottom of the fifth. Sweet hit another RBI single, scoring Brooks, and the Irish only trailed 4-3. However, the one-run margin was short-lived, and NC State regained its comfortable lead with a three-run home run. It added another two runs in the seventh off of yet another home run, putting the Irish down 9-3. The Irish got a seventh inning rally, which started with Brooks’ one-out, solo home run. Sweet added to the rally with a double to center field. However, it was too little, too late, and the Irish dropped the second game of the series, 9-4.

With the series knotted at one win each, the teams went into the rubber match and second game of the day. This time, Notre Dame got off to an early lead with a two-run home run by Brooks, her second of the day. However, the Wolfpack were just as motivated as the Irish to win the series, and took the lead after scoring three runs in the second inning. The Irish were unable to cut into this lead in the bottom of the second, going three-up, three-down.

Tidd, starting her second game of the weekend, threw a scoreless third inning, keeping the Irish in the game. Brooks started off the third inning by hitting a big two-run home run off of the scoreboard in left center field, retaking the lead, 4-3. The home run was Brooks’ second of the game and third that day. Rochford would score on a wild pitch, increasing the Irish lead. Irish freshman right fielder Emma Clark collected her third hit of the weekend with an RBI single, putting Notre Dame up 5-3. Tidd threw another shutout inning in the top of the fourth, giving up a hit before retiring the side with two strikeouts and a groundout.

Notre Dame carried the momentum of its big third inning into the fourth, scoring six runs. The squad was able to string together hits and move runners around the bases in an inning that saw no extra base hits. Rochford, senior first baseman MK Bonamy, junior shortstop Chelsea Purcell and Tidd all collected RBIs in the inning, and the Irish took a commanding 12-3 lead.

Tidd gave up a hit to start off the fifth inning, but shut the door on the Wolfpack, getting the next batter to hit into a double play. She struck out the next batter, her sixth of the day. The game was called after the top of the fifth, giving Notre Dame its first win of the day 12-3, and the series 2-1.

The Irish are slated to face off at Purdue on Tuesday, starting off a six-game road trip. The squad returns to Melissa Cook Stadium when it plays Detroit Mercy on May 1 at 5:30 p.m.