Apr 1, 2014, 1:52 PM EDT
On Wednesday afternoon, Notre Dame softball faced off against Eastern Michigan University. Because of the weather delays that took place this past weekend, the team had a ten day hiatus since their last game. This lack of in-game play showed in the early innings when the Eagles put up a two-run lead in the top of the third inning off of the bat of Abby Davidson and a fielding error made by the Irish. Unfortunately for the Eagles, their lead would be short-lived.
During this game, I had the privilege of standing in Notre Dame’s dugout to operate the camera on the third base side for the live stream for Fighting Irish Digital Media. When the team came in after recording the third and final out of the top of the third inning, a feeling that was felt throughout the entire dugout that even resonated in me while I was filming Eastern Michigan’s pitcher warming up for the bottom of the third inning.
Some things being said by players and coaches alike included: “Okay here we go” – “We got this.” – “Gotta get some runners on base now girls.”
Never did I sense a feeling of dismay or worry. If anything, this team came out of the break more focused and determined than if they were winning. This focus was put into effect immediately when the Irish bats came alive and the team put together an eight run rally.
This eight-run rally was highlighted by a Emilee Koerner three-run home run to right field; scoring Chloe Saganowich and Megan Sorlie. Filming this at bat, I did not even have to look up to see if the ball had enough distance to leave Melissa Cook Stadium because the pure sound of the ball on the bat was convincing enough.
The Fighting Irish then continued their scoring spree the following inning when they added four more runs on the bats of Saganowich, Jenna Simon and Karley Wester; along with an RBI bases-loaded walk by Kimmy Sullivan.
Being up by ten runs, the Irish were in prime position to end the game early thanks to the “mercy rule” (which is you have to be up by at least eight runs after five innings of play). In order to certify Notre Dame’s twentieth win of the season, Deanna Gumpf sent in Laura Winter to get the final three outs in the fifth inning.
If Winter would be able to get these final three outs then she would become the all-time winningest pitcher in Notre Dame Softball history with 97 career wins. This team was not phased when they were down early and Winter was not phased either when she stepped up to the mound with history in sight.
It only took Winter 11 pitches in order to achieve what no other Notre Dame Softball pitcher has done in earning her 97th career win.
Infield pop out. Strikeout. Fly out to center field.
By retiring the batters in order, Winter separated herself from the good pitchers in Notre Dame softball history and entered the “elite” status. It was quite something to see Winter’s reaction when she came back to the dugout and heard the announcer make the announcement over the intercom. A smile came upon her face when several players came up to her, gave Winter hugs, and exclaimed, “You did it!”
Looking at her expression, you could tell she was happy, but not satisfied. This being her senior season, she wants more for this team than just an individual accomplishment, she wants to keep winning all the way to the NCAA Softball National Championship. If what I saw through my Sony camera is a foreshadowing of what is to come for this team, then the rest of the nation better look out for Notre Dame.
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