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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

Irish senior catcher Forrest Johnson takes an at-bat during  Notre Dame’s 10-6 loss to Villanova on April 7th of last season.

Irish have up-and-down weekend on the diamond

Baseball goes 2-2 vs. FIU, softball ends Mary Nutter Invitational with 2 wins after tough start

Notre Dame baseball and softball both moved closer to the start of conference play with busy weekends in warm weather locations. The baseball team traveled to Miami for a four-game series that included a Saturday double-header against FIU. Softball, meanwhile, went all the way out to Cathedral City, California, playing five games in three days as part of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

Baseball splits series vs. FIU

Notre Dame picked up right where it left off on offense, matching the 13 runs they scored in their series finale against Rice in their first contest with the Panthers. Senior outfielder TJ Williams gave the team an early lead it would not lose with a three-run blast in the second inning. The Irish tacked on three more in the second and put it out of reach with three straight multi-run innings from the sixth to the eighth. After launching five long balls in their last game against Rice, the Irish crushed four more to start this weekend, with Williams hitting a second long ball in the sixth followed by homers from senior infielder Connor Hincks graduate student outfielder David Glancy.

Notre Dame's offense nearly carried it to a 5-0 start with an impressive attempt to rally in the first contest of Saturday's doubleheader. Down 6-1 after five innings, round-trippers by graduate student infielder Josh Hahn and graduate student outfielder Tito Flores propelled the team to an 8-6 lead going into the bottom of the seventh. But graduate student Nate Hardman was unable to replicate his late-inning magic from the Rice series, surrendering three runs in the eighth to hand the team its first loss of the season.

The second game on Saturday followed a similar script. FIU found itself ahead 5-0 after five, only for the Irish to put up four runs in the next two innings to claw within a run. But a three-run shot from Kishon Frett put the game away, with the Panthers prevailing by a 10-5 final.

Sunday's game, however, was a total change of pace. Flores and Glancy came up big again with a four-inning two-run single and eighth inning solo homer, respectively. But it was Notre Dame's pitching that carried the team to a split. Four Irish hurlers racked up 13 strikeouts and held FIU off the scoreboard until the ninth inning. Freshman Jack Radel was the best of the bunch, earning the win after yielding just one hit in three innings of work as the first reliever for graduate student Tobey McDonough. Graduate student Bennett Flynn ran into trouble in the ninth, surrendering a lead-off homer followed by two singles. However, he was able to settle down, getting a couple of strikeouts before inducing a fly-out from Jeff Liquori with the bases loaded.

Softball starts slow, finishes strong in California

Whether it was jet lag, the time zone adjustment or something else, Notre Dame softball wasn't at its best to start the Mary Nutter Invitational. The Irish surrendered 25 runs in their first three contests, falling to Mississippi State, Baylor and Oregon, all ranked opponents. The Irish offense did have some big performances. Sophomore outfielder Mickey Winchell had three hits vs. Mississippi State, a game the Irish lead 3-0 after a half inning only to have their lead evaporated by the third. Freshman infielder Addison Amaral and junior infielder Jane Kronenberger combined for five RBIs as the Irish erased an 8-3 deficit in the seventh against Oregon, only for the Ducks to score two to walk them off in the second. Senior infielder Karina Gaskins was her typical on-base machine.

Those promising developments eventually came together for the Irish against Oregon State and Utah. The Irish allowed just 3 runs over the final two games of their weekend, both of them victories. Down 1-0 after three against the Beavers, big two-run extra base hits from junior catcher Rachel Allen (fourth inning double) and Gaskins (fifth inning homer) gave the Irish the lead for good. Graduate student Alexis Laudenslager had a strong start (4.1 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 7 strikeouts) while junior Shannon Becker struck out 3 of the 10 hitters she faced, keeping Oregon State from scoring over the final 2.2 frames.

Once again falling behind 1-0 early, this time to No. 20 Utah, the Irish offense found its stroke again. The team loaded the bases in the bottom of the third and clawed out three runs on a walk, sac fly and single. Four singles in the sixth inning helped Notre Dame tack on three runs to create breathing room in a convincing 7-1 victory. Freshman Micaela Kastor went the distance, scattering 11 hits (all but two of which were singles) for her first complete game of the season and third of her young college career.