March 13, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team (8-7) began the 2003 Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif., on a high note, defeating Fresno State (7-14) 3-1 on Thursday afternoon. The Irish will continue the four-day tournament at 7 p.m. (west coast time) against #4 Nebraska. The win also gives Notre Dame a measure of revenge on the Bulldogs, who defeated the Irish during last season’s tournament.
Notre Dame was able to put it all together on Thursday against the Bulldogs, getting solid offense, great pitching and dependable defense to dominate the game. The Irish came out aggressive, swinging at the first three pitches of the game to make their first three outs.
That aggressiveness paid off in the top of the third inning. Liz Hartmann stepped in to lead off and drilled the second pitch she was offered deep over the left field fence to put the Irish up 1-0. It was Hartmann’s team-leading fourth home run of the season.
Notre Dame kept the pressure on in that same inning. After Hartmann homered, Carrie Wisen struck out. Nicole deFau then drew a four-pitch walk. Irish lead-off hitter Megan Ciolli came through with a single through the right side to put runners at first and third.
Hot-hitting Alexis Madrid was due next and the senior second base drilled a ball right at FSU third base Angelina Diaz. Diaz was able to get out of the way of the laser beam, but the infield single loaded the bases for Andria Bledsoe.
Bledsoe ended up striking out on a close call, but Notre Dame’s leading hitter this season, Meagan Ruthrauff, came through with a solid single to center field. deFau and Madrid scored on the play to give the Irish a 3-0 lead.
Fresno State did come back with a rally in the sixth inning. Leticia Pacheco led off by drawing a walk. Booth came back to get Mitzi Ing to strike out, but walked Nicole Shan to put runners at first and second. Christina Clark was due next for the Bulldogs and worked the count to 3-1. Booth came right at her and Clark delivered a deep fly ball to center field. Ciolli settled under it right at the fence for Notre Dame, made a great catch and an even greater throw to third base – eliminating the advance and eventually saving a run.
Lori Hoffman dribbled a single through the right side to drive in Pacheco and the only run of the game for Fresno. Booth struck out Jamie Southern to end the inning and the Bulldog scoring threat.
Both teams went in order in the final inning.
GAME NOTE: Notre Dame was without the services of senior All-American candidate Andrea Loman for game one of the tournament … Loman was forced to head back to the hotel with the flu … it has not yet been determined whether she will play against Nebraska, or the rest of the weekend … freshman Meagan Ruthrauff played third base for the Irish against Fresno State.