Softball: Northwestern hits big to get revenge on Notre Dame

Sophomore outfielder Olivia Duehr slugged a home run that hit the roof of the practice facility in let field, on the eighth run to do so in program history, to put NU on the board against Notre Dame on Tuesday afternoon. The Cats defeated the Fighting Irish in five innings on a run-rule.

Daily file photo by Josh Walfish

Sophomore outfielder Olivia Duehr slugged a home run that hit the roof of the practice facility in let field, on the eighth run to do so in program history, to put NU on the board against Notre Dame on Tuesday afternoon. The Cats defeated the Fighting Irish in five innings on a run-rule.

Rebecca Friedman, Assistant Sports Editor

The fifth time was the charm for the Wildcats against the Fighting Irish on Tuesday.

After a rocky start, Northwestern shocked Notre Dame, putting up 9 runs in the fifth inning to best the Fighting Irish and end it in the five-inning mercy rule.

The Cats entered the fifth inning down 3-2. The inning started off with a dramatic flair that gave the Cats’ offense some extra energy as junior third baseman Marisa Bast slugged a home run to center to tie the score.

Sophomore shortstop Anna Edwards found a way to get all the way to second, popping up to the center fielder who lost the hit in the wind. Sophomore Andrea DiPrima lined an RBI double to the outfield for the Cats’ second lead of the game. Another base hit by freshman Brianna LeBeau put runners on the corners for NU. Sophomore Julia Kuhn got on to load the bases for the Cats. Sophomore outfielder Olivia Duehr forced a walk to walk in a run and keep the based loaded.

The top of the order rolled around for NU. Senior Kristin Scharkey and junior Mari Majam, Big Ten Player of the Week, both got RBI base hits, Scharkey with a single and Majam with a double, to bring the score to 8-3.

The Cats had now batted around and the winning run, Bast, was at the plate due to the 8 runs after five innings mercy rule. Bast got on base after getting hit by a pitch, and sophomore pitcher Amy Letourneau knocked in one more with a base hit to second. Edwards walked up to the plate for the second time in the inning and lined one to right to score 2 more runs, giving the Cats an 11-3 victory.

“I think our confidence is huge right now,” Letourneau said. “I think we’re playing really well and we know it and we’re hitting well. We know that we can put nine runs up on any inning.”

The fifth inning served as a continuation of the previous series against Illinois, in which the Cats knocked in 23 runs in three games and run-ruled the Fighting Illini in two of the matchups.

Notre Dame rounded out NU’s tough out-of-conference schedule. The Fighting Irish received multiple votes to be in the top 25, post a 26-10 record on the season and sit in fourth in the Big East. Besides beating a tough opponent, the Cats got the gratification of beating a team that bested them last season in 9-1 run-rule victory.

“We saw our chance and we took it,” Letourneau said. “We didn’t play our best in the first couple of innings, but we definitely came through in the fifth inning.”

The Cats’ ace gave up only 3 runs on 3 hits with 8 strikeouts against the impressive Fighting Irish offense.

“Amy is very consistent and our defense is very confident when she’s out there,” Duehr said.

Duehr also emphasized not panicking when things weren’t going right for the Cats on defense and taking each out one at a time.

The Cats managed 2 runs before their huge fifth inning. The first run came on a blast from Duehr in the second. Duehr’s ball hit the roof of the practice facility in left field, marking only the eighth home run ball to enter the “Roof Club” and making Duehr only the second player to have 2 home runs that qualify for entrance into the club.  Duehr’s blast also came from the nine-spot, showing just how effective the Cats’ order is.

“Olivia’s home run really woke us up,” coach Kate Drohan said. “She’s an atypical nine batter and has great power and speed. She definitely does a great job of turning out lineup over.”

The Fighting Irish tied it up in the third on a passed ball and took the lead on a single and throwing error to go up 3-1.

The Cats battled back in the bottom of the inning, narrowing Notre Dame’s lead to 1 on a base hit by Edwards to pave way for their dominance in the fifth inning.

Comments