PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO – A monster sixth inning, sparked by the bat of Brianna Butler, propelled the Duke Blue Devils (1-0) to a 7-3 victory against Notre Dame (0-1) to open the 2019 season at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Devils reeled off five runs to erase the Fighting Irish lead and secure a lead they would not relinquish. Rachel Abboud opened the inning with a single that hit the chalk in left field before Jameson Kavel singled to put two on. A wild pitch pushed runners to second and third and was followed by a five-pitch walk to Raine Wilson to load the bases. Two batters later, Butler delivered on a full-count pitch with a rocket to center, driving home Wilson and Kavel.
Dominique Salinas kept the inning going with an RBI double just moments later, pushing Duke’s lead to 5-3. After a Notre Dame pitching change, head coach Marissa Young called on freshman Kristina Foreman, who delivered a scorching two-RBI double to right center in the first at-bat of her career to increase Duke’s lead to 7-3.
A trio of groundouts, highlighted by the game’s final out where Marissa Gagliano made an outstanding defensive play on a chopper to the left side, sealed the win for the Blue Devils.
Duke did not waste any time on Thursday getting things going, as a Deja Davis single and Abboud walk set up Wilson, who rifled one into right that got her to third. The Blue Devils held the 2-0 lead until the fourth, when Notre Dame tied up the contest and then took the lead an inning later before the Duke rally.
Davis led the way offensively for Duke, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and a walk as the squad’s leadoff hitter. The freshman also turned in a pair of stolen bases. Seven Blue Devils tallied one hit on the night, including freshmen Caroline Jacobsen and Foreman. Peyton St. George earned the start for Duke, going 4.0 innings and allowing just two runs on three hits and striking out four opponents. Amelia Wiercioch (1-0) entered in the fifth and threw the final three innings to secure her first win of the 2019 campaign. Alexis Holloway (0-1) received the loss for the Irish.
The Blue Devils return Friday to face South Carolina at 7 p.m. ET before closing the weekend with a Saturday doubleheader against Liberty (4 p.m.) and Washington (9:30 p.m.).
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