May 20, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. – The Notre Dame softball team captured a thrilling 5-4 come from behind victory over Southern Illinois in elimination play at the NCAA Regional at Sharon J. Drysdale Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Irish were playing their second game of the day as they fell to No. 11 Northwestern, 9-0, earlier in the day. Notre Dame and Northwestern will now square off again on Sunday at noon (CT) in day three of the Evanston Regional. A Wildcat win will advance them to the NCAA Super Regional round, while a Notre Dame victory will force a final elimination game between the two teams on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (CT).
Senior Heather Booth went the distance for the Notre Dame (42-20) as she struck out 12 batters, while allowing three earned runs on five hits. Freshman Linda Kohan drove in two runs for the Irish, who fell behind 3-0 after two innings of play before mounting a late comeback, which included a three-run sixth inning. Cassidy Scoggins came on in relief and allowed three runs on four hits in two innings of work to receive the loss for Southern Illinois (35-12).
With the score knotted 4-4 entering the seventh inning, sophomore Katie Laing pushed across the deciding run on a fielder’s choice. Laing went 2-4 on the day. Joining her with two hits for the Irish were senior Sara Schoonaert and freshman Erin Glasco, who both went 2-3. Schoonaert scored the winning run in the seventh after leading off the frame with a single. Notre Dame put six of seven leadoff hitters on base throughout the game as a result of base hits.
With the tying run on second in the bottom of the seventh, Booth fanned Katie Louis looking to end the game and advance the Fighting Irish to the championship round of the Evanston Regional. Booth is now 27-10 on the season.
Southern Illinois jumped on the Irish early with two runs in the bottom of the first. Tiffanie Dismore led off with a single and was bunted over by Krystal Stein and knocked in on a single by Amanda Clifton. Clifton later scored on a Lauren Haas base hit up the middle.
The Salukis capitalized off a couple Notre Dame errors in the second inning to put another score on the board to make it 3-0. There were two outs in the inning when Dismore stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Irish catcher Mallorie Lenn and scored on a throwing error by Notre Dame centerfielder Stephanie Brown.
Notre Dame pushed across its first run in the top of the fourth inning as Laing scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Gessica Hufnagle, who picked up the RBI to slice the deficit to two at 3-1. Booth fanned the side in the bottom half of the inning. The senior held Southern Illinois without a hit from the second inning through the fifth.
The Irish surged ahead with a three-run sixth inning. Notre Dame connected on four straight singles from Meagan Ruthrauff, Laing, Erin Glasco and Kohan to lead off the frame. Following Ruthrauff’s hit, Scoggins replaced starter Ashley Hamby in the circle for the Salukis.
Kohan’s single through the right side of the infield plated Laing and pinch-runner Brittany Glynn, who was in for Ruthrauff, to tie the game at three apiece. Then with Stephanie Mola batting, Glasco scored on a passed ball to give the Irish their first lead of the game at 4-3.
Booth’s hitless streak would end in the sixth as Lauren Roney led off the frame with a single and would later score on a Becky Wegmann double to knot the score at 4-4 heading into the seventh inning.
In the top-half of the seventh, Schoonaert scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Laing to put the Irish back on top 5-4. Notre Dame did leave two potential insurance runs on base when the inning ended, yet it would not come back to haunt the Irish.
Ruthrauff came up with a key defensive play in the bottom of the seventh as she knocked down a sharply-hit line drive at third base, scooped it up and threw it to Laing at second for a force out and the second out of the inning. Booth then struck out Louis looking to end the contest.
— ND —