After dropping its first two games against the Fighting Irish, Duke fought back Sunday to end the series on a high note, though it still notched a loss in its first ACC series.
The Blue Devils had strong midweek wins against North Carolina State and North Carolina Central before hosting Notre Dame in Durham this past weekend. Duke tripped up in the first two games before bouncing back to round out the series with a 6-2 win at Duke Softball Stadium.
“[It’s] a mixed bag of feelings,” head coach Marissa Young said after Sunday’s game. “Obviously disappointed that we dropped the series, but really pleased with how we responded today, regrouping after two losses, being committed to a different approach and seeing the team we’re used to seeing today.”
It’s the Blue Devils’ first multi-game skid this season, as Duke had only lost two games going into the weekend, and it comes after the team earned votes towards being ranked for the first time in program history in a pair of national polls last week. The votes came after Duke upset No. 4 Texas in Austin last weekend for the program’s first ever win against a ranked opponent.
While Duke (15-4, 1-2 in the ACC) had a dominant start to the season, Notre Dame (12-6, 2-1) came to town ready to play. Friday night, Duke jumped out to an early lead after sophomore outfielder Caroline Jacobsen and junior outfielder Jameson Kavel drove in a pair of runs against Notre Dame pitcher Alexis Holloway, who led the ACC in earned runs average going into the weekend.
Duke held onto the lead until the fifth inning, when the Fighting Irish exploded for five runs. They tacked on another in the sixth inning, bringing the final score to 6-2.
Saturday was a tighter game, with only Notre Dame scoring. The Fighting Irish scored their lone run off a double by junior infielder Sarah Genz in the 6th inning, which sent freshmen Leea Hanks across the plate.
“I think it’s the way we went about it that caused the loss, and what I wanted to see change was their energy—which is controllable,” Young said.
The Blue Devils headed into the last game of the series looking to ramp up the aggressiveness and lean into the offensive identity the team’s established so far.
“Obviously you’re not going to hit if you’re not swinging the bat,” Young said. “They were a lot more aggressive early in the count today.”
After Notre Dame scored in the first inning, Kavel got across the plate to tie it at and redshirt junior Jazmine Moreno batted in freshman Felise Collins to push Duke ahead to 2-1.
The next inning, Duke tacked on three more runs. Collins doubled to put one runner across the plate, freshman Gisele Tapia batted in Collins, and Moreno doubled to send the third runner home.
After the third inning, Notre Dame sent out a fresh pitcher to try to reign in the Blue Devils. Moreno added another RBI in the fifth inning, and the game ended 6-2.
Duke has a couple of weeks before diving headfirst into the brunt of conference play. The Blue Devils will host USC Upstate for a pair of games on Wednesday, then the Duke Invitational will kick off Friday.
Young said it’s “always fun to play at home,” and Duke will have plenty of chances to do just that during the tournament—it’ll play five games during the weekend.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Bre is a senior political science major from South Carolina, and she is the current video editor, special projects editor and recruitment chair for The Chronicle. She is also an associate photography editor and an investigations editor. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief and local and national news department head.