As the weather turned from soggy to bright, Duke’s play turned from sloppy to a delight.
The 25th-ranked Blue Devils went 4-1 across the ACC Pod Weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Duke Softball Stadium to open both their ACC and home slates, sweeping Pittsburgh behind two dominant mercy rule wins and eking out a 2-1 series victory against Notre Dame.
Duke's lone loss came via a two-run defeat Saturday night in the series opener against the Fighting Irish.
The Blue Devils took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning of that contest when the Notre Dame catcher’s throw to third went into left field on a “runners on the corners double steal," allowing both baserunners to score. However, the Fighting Irish tied it with some small ball in the third and a couple big hits in the fourth, tagging on three more runs in the sixth as well.
Duke loaded the bases in the seventh—two of those baserunners getting on with two outs—and got a run in on a Rachel Crabtree walk, but Kristina Foreman flew out to left, stranding the ducks on the pond.
The Blue Devils avenged that loss Sunday, spending just three total innings in their doubleheader against the Irish without the lead. Junior shortstop Deja Davis hit a leadoff triple in the first game and finished 5-for-7 with two triples and a stolen base, while freshman Kelly Torres hit both her first career extra-base hit (a double) and later a home run in the afternoon-cap.
Across the entire weekend, Crabtree went 4-for-13 with four walks and her first career triple, junior right fielder Caroline Jacobsen went 4-for-14 with a double and senior centerfielder Jameson Kavel went 5-for-13 with a walk and two doubles. Junior Shelby Waters pitched both Saturday evening in relief and started Sunday afternoon, earning two wins by throwing 10 innings of one-run ball, allowing just four baserunners on 119 pitches.
Despite the Notre Dame loss, it was truly a weekend to mark the start of softball season. Not that routing then-No. 5 LSU last Friday wasn’t good enough, but the sun made its season debut Sunday, and lasted a glorious 14 innings.
The change was apparent from the moment that sun took the field. Gone was Friday and Saturday’s rail-soaked field, the atrocious defensive performances that entailed and the unbearable conditions. Instead, Sunday was the kind of day in which you could crack open a mimosa, kick your feet up and enjoy a morning doubleheader. The Blue Devils’ season has only truly begun, once they start showing out under that lazy Sunday sun.
Duke (8-1) will travel to Columbia, S.C. next weekend for a quartet of matchups at the Gamecock Invitational. If the Blue Devils sweep their first two games there, they’ll beat last year’s 9-2 record for the best 11-game start in team history.
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