A four-run ninth inning sent Notre Dame to a 7-3 win over Hawaii today in the opening game of the NCAA softball regional in Tucson, Ariz.
Hawaii (44-8) will play North Dakota State (37-21) on Saturday in an elimination game scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Hawaii time. That game will be preceded by the winners bracket game between Notre Dame (39-14) and host Arizona (36-17). Arizona defeated North Dakota State 11-0 in five innings in today’s second game at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
UH center fielder Kelly Majam went 4-for-5 with two home runs in today’s game, both tying the score after Notre Dame had taken the lead. But Notre Dame went ahead for good in the ninth on an RBI single by Emilee Koerner and Katey Haus followed with a three-run homer.
UH pitcher Stephanie Ricketts give up 14 hits, struck out five and walked three before being relieved by Kaia Parnaby in the ninth inning and took the loss.
Notre Dame sophomore Laura Winter struck out eight, walked two and earned the complete-game win.
Notre Dame jumped ahead in the top of the first inning with its first swing of the game. Leadoff hitter Alexa Maldonado took two balls then launched a home run to right center field, her seventh of the year.
UH loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first. But Winter escaped with a force out at the plate and a strikeout.
Majam tied the game in the top of the third with a leadoff home run of her own and freshman Leisha Li’ili’i gave the Wahine the lead with an opposite-field homer to left field to open the bottom of the fourth inning.
Notre Dame reclaimed the lead with two out in the top of the fifth on Dani Miller’s two-run double into the left-center gap to give the Irish a 3-2 lead.
Majam tied the game again at 3-3 in the bottom of the inning with her second home run of the game and team-high 15th of the season.
Notre Dame threatened to break the tie in the top of the seventh when Miller reached on a two-out single and advanced to second on an error on UH right fielder Sharla Kliebenstein. Koerner followed with a line single to right but Kliebenstein threw Miller out at the plate to end the inning.
Majam singled in the bottom of the seventh but was stranded there and the game went into extra innings.
After a scoreless eighth, Notre Dame’s Amy Buntin singled and went to third on Miller’s single with one out. Koerner then looped a single into center to score Buntin with the go-ahead run. Haus then hit a three-run homer to left field to push the lead to 7-3.
Winter retired UH in order to end the game and send the Wahine to their third straight loss.