Walk-off single by Sullivan sinks Notre Dame softball in state semifinal
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- This season, Notre Dame softball set its sights on returning to the state championship game after losing in last year's title game. In the process, the Bulldogs piled up 23 wins and again advanced to the final four. But on Friday they fell short.
Notre Dame lost on a walk-off single in a 6-5 defeat to Sullivan in the Class 3 semifinal at the Killian Softball Complex in Springfield, Missouri.
The Eagles, who overcame an early 3-0 deficit, will face Warrenton in the title game Saturday at 2 p.m.
Bulldogs senior Abby Rollet broke the school single-season home run record with her 10th bomb of the year. But she and the eight other seniors won't get the chance to avenge last year's championship defeat to Warrenton.
"That was the goal from day one to get back here and have a shot to face Warrenton again," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "Fell a little bit short of that but this group worked hard -- extremely hard -- had a tough road to get here and found a way to will themselves to this spot."
Notre Dame (23-6) instead settled for the third-place game after Sullivan (22-10) pounded 12 hits and overcame five errors, all in the first three innings. Four of those 12 hits were for extra bases.
Eagles first baseman Abbey Daniel had the game-winning single in the seventh inning. With two outs and on a 2-2 pitch, Daniel found a hole in the right side of the infield and freshman Grace Glaser scored from second standing up. She was pinch running for freshman pitcher Addison Purvis, who led off the inning with a base hit.
"I had a feeling she was going to do it when she got up there," Sullivan coach Ashley Crump said of Daniel. "We told her 'Do this for your sister,' who was a senior last year."
Notre Dame, the visitors Friday, jumped out to an early 3-0 lead as the Eagles dealt with nerves. A roster heavy with underclassmen committed three errors in the first inning, and two of three runs were unearned.
Bulldogs senior catcher Morgan Duschell led off the game with a single and came around to score. Rollet had the other hit in the frame as the left fielder drove in two runs on a bloop single.
Rollet accounted for three of the Bulldogs' five hits as she went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs.
"That's not the way we usually play," Crump said of the first inning. "We told them, 'this is the ugliest game we've seen them play in a long time.' But they can't fold. You've got to keep playing your game, and really I think that's what they did.
Sullivan answered with a two-run home run from Hannah Cox its first time up. Cox went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.
Pervis was 3-for-3 with a walk and a triple.
Rollet's solo blast in the third stretched the Bulldogs lead back to two. As she saw the ball fly over the fence, Rollet jumped into the air mid-stride in celebration.
Despite the two-run deficit, Sullivan steadily kept crawling its way back. They also plated a run in the third and then outscored Notre Dame 2-0 in the final two innings, overturning a 5-4 fifth-inning deficit.
In the final four innings, Notre Dame had two hits and three base runners. Two of those base runners got on with two outs; the Bulldogs stranded six runners, compared to Sullivan's five.
"With the runners we left on base early in the game, we had some opportunities to put some separation between us and them," Graviett said. "Just couldn't get that big hit to give us that big lead other than that first-inning lead, which they came back from."
Sullivan took advantage of the Bulldogs' missed opportunities and overturned that early deficit to deny Notre Dame a chance at revenge against Warrenton. Notre Dame pitcher Ellie Retz took the loss.
"A loss is going to hurt at any point, but yeah, their goal was to get into that [championship] game and have another shot to redeem themselves after last year's loss," Graviett said. "It's going to hurt."
WP -- Addison Pervis. LP -- Ellie Retz. 2B -- Hannah Cox (S), Madison Decker (S). 3B -- Addison Pervis (S). HR -- Cox (S), Abby Rollet (ND). Multiple hits -- Notre Dame: Rollet 3-4; Sullivan: Pervis 3-3, Cox 2-4, Abbey Daniel 2-4, Emma Weirich 2-3.
- Photos from state (10/22/16)