April 4, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (19-8, 2-0 BIG EAST) extended its season-high winning streak to eight games and shutout streak to five games with a doubleheader sweep at Villanova (19-13, 0-2) on Monday afternoon. The two games opened the BIG EAST Conference portion of the 2005 schedule on a high note for the Irish, who displayed solid pitching (allowing just four hits in the two games) and timely hitting during the sweep.
The 2004 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, senior Steffany Stenglein began her ’05 conference season with a dominating performance, allowing just one hit and striking out 10 in a complete-game shutout performance during game one.
Stenglein was supported on offense by freshman Katie Laing, who was three for six with her first career home run in the doubleheader. Laing scored two runs in game one, going two for three at the plate, with the RBI provided by junior Mallorie Lenn, senior Liz Hartmann and senior Carrie Wisen.
Notre Dame grabbed the game one lead in the top of the second inning when Laing led off with a double, advanced to third on an error and scored on an RBI single by Wisen. Senior Nicole Wicks pinch ran for Wisen and stole second and third, eventually scoring when the Villanova catcher tossed away her attempt to throw out Wicks at third on the steal attempt.
Another run was put on the board in the fourth inning when junior Meagan Ruthrauff led off with a double down the leftfield line. Sophomore Gessica Hufnagle entered the game to pinch run and moved to third on ground ball, eventually scoring on an RBI single by Hartmann.
The final Irish run of game one came in the sixth inning after Laing led off with a double to right center. She stole third after a strikeout and scored on a muffed throw at first base.
Highly aggressive on the base paths, Notre Dame stole five bases in game one, led by Wicks with two.
Notre Dame’s offense was quieted a bit in game two by Villanova starting pitcher Shannon Williams, but Laing provided a big hit in the second inning – all Irish starting pitcher Heather Booth would need.
Laing drilled the first home run of her career to leftfield with one out in the second inning and Booth took over from there.
The Irish righthander allowed three hits in seven shutout innings, striking out five and walking just one batter.
Notre Dame tacked on an insurance run in the fifth inning when Lenn drew a lead off walk and was replaced by Wicks as a pinch runner. Wicks quickly stole second base, advanced to third on a ground ball and scored on an RBI single from junior Sara Schoonaert.
Notre Dame has now began its BIG EAST Conference schedule 2-0 for the fifth consecutive season. The last time the Irish failed to win both games of a conference-opening doubleheader was the 2000 season, when Notre Dame split with Connecticut at Ivy Field.
The team returns to action tomorrow, Tuesday, April 5, when it plays host to Eastern Michigan for a doubleheader set to begin at 4 p.m.