PORTSMOUTH — How the Notre Dame Lady Titans won on Thursday has been their recipe for their success in the early stages of the 2022 softball season.
Dominant pitching and yes, manufacturing runs at the plate.
Including Thursday’s 10-0 win over New Boston (3-4, 1-3 SOC I) in six innings, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 42-1 — as part of a 4-0 (3-0 SOC I) start to the season.
“I believe our pitchers have been dominant early, throwing strikes and getting quite a few strikeouts. Our defense has made the plays when the ball is in play,” Notre Dame head coach Shad Ford said, of the early success. “Like I told the team, we just have to keep it simple and make the routine plays when we need to.”
Notre Dame led wire-to-wire in the shutout win — getting on the scoreboard early and adding on from there.
Freshman Bree Hicks stole home to get Notre Dame on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first — after reaching base on a bunt single and stealing her way into scoring position.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, freshman Kaylyn Darden doubled to drive in freshman Maddie Entler — putting the Lady Titans ahead 2-0.
A two-out walk by sophomore Kyndall Ford brought junior Libby Kelly to the plate in the third.
Kelly hit her first home run of the season on the second pitch of the at-bat — giving Notre Dame a 4-0 lead through three.
Hicks then drove in Darden in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 5-0 game.
After a scoreless fifth, Notre Dame plated five runs in the sixth — capped by a game-ending double by Kelly to score junior Annie Dettwiller.
Lady Titans sophomore Gwen Sparks was dominant in the circle in their home win over the Lady Tigers — allowing no hits in six complete innings, facing one over the minimum with one walk issued, and striking out a season-high 17 batters.
The lone Lady Tiger to reach base was junior Bre Conkel, who drew a one-out walk in the top of the sixth.
“Gwen threw a gem tonight — had great control of her pitches and hit her spots very well. She is very capable of doing that in every game in which she finds her groove,” Ford said. “And a shoutout to our senior catcher Madison Brown, she’s done a great job filling in and helping our pitchers with some early-season injuries.”
Notre Dame will look to continue its unbeaten start with key league games ahead, hosting Green on Friday, Western on Tuesday, and a matchup with fellow league unbeaten Clay (5-0, 2-0 SOC I) on Wednesday.
“We have three conference games coming in the next four days, definitely have to take care of business in these games with Green, Western and Clay and can’t overlook anyone. We’re a very young team that has to grow up quickly,” Ford said. “After the league schedule, we have a good out-of-conference schedule that should challenge us to get better. Really looking forward to that to see our girls grow being tested.”
New Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 0 2
Notre Dame 1 1 2 1 0 5 — 10 10 0
New Boston hitting
Bre Conkel 0-1, BB
Notre Dame hitting
Bree Hicks 2-4, 2R, 2RBI
Gwen Sparks 1-4, R
Madison Brown 0-3
Alivia Taylor 0-1
Kyndall Ford 2-3, R, 2RBI, BB
Libby Kelly 2-4, 2R, 3RBI
Maddie Entler 0-2, R
Gracie Ashley 1-2, R
Annabelle Ball 0-1
Katie Strickland 0-1, R
Mia McPheters 0-1
Kaylyn Darden 2-3, R, 2RBI
Gwen Sparks (ND) 6IP, 0H, 0ER, 1BB, 17K (W)
Kenzie Whitley (NB) 5.2IP, 10H, 7ER, 1BB, 4K (L)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved