March 13, 2003

The University of Notre Dame softball team fell back to .500 (8-8) for the third time this season, suffering a 10-3 loss to #4 Nebraska (15-3) in its second game at the Kia Klassic. The Irish will return to action during the four-day tournament on Friday at 11 a.m. against #14 DePaul.

The sub-par pitching performance by Notre Dame overshadowed a solid offensive performance. The Irish ended up with nine hits and three runs, but were unable to keep up with the Huskers’ 14 hits and 10 runs. Notre Dame was unable to get the big hit it needed at the right time to stay in the game.

The first three innings of the contest turned into a pitcher’s duel, as Summer Tobias from Nebraska and Steffany Stenglein from Notre Dame continued to battle out of jams.

In the top of the second, Nicole Trimboli led off with a double for Nebraska and moved to third on a wild pitch. Stenglein came back to get two strikeouts and foul out to escape any damage in the inning.

The Irish put together their own threat in the bottom of the second. Lisa Mattison led off with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Kellie Middleton. Mallorie Lenn moved Middleton to second with a sacrifice bunt. Liz Hartmann blooped a single over second base, but the ball was too close for Middleton to advance.

Designated player Carrie Wisen moved the runners into scoring position with a ground out, but Nicole deFau dribbled out to first base to end the inning.

Notre Dame would miss out on another scoring opportunity in the third. Megan Ciolli led off with a single and stole second. After Alexis Madrid popped out, Bledsoe drilled a single through the middle. Husker centerfielder Amber Burgess cut down Ciolli attempting to score at the plate. Meagan Ruthrauff flied out to centerfield to end the inning.

Nebraska finally touched Stenglein for two runs in the fourth inning. Burgess led off with a bloop single down the leftfield line and Peaches James followed up with a single up the middle to put runners at first and second. Trisha Tannahill posted another single to load the bases and Liz Lawhorn drove in two runs with a solid single to leftfield. Stenglein got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice ground ball to third and a line out to first base.

The Irish scratched across a run in the bottom of the inning after Mattison got her second hit of the game. There were eventually two fielder’s choice ground balls in the inning, but Ciolli delivered with a bases loaded single to drive in one run.

Unfortunately for the Irish, Nebraska came back to get four runs in the top of the fifth and three runs in the top of the sixth. Stenglein allowed an RBI single from Burgess, a RBI double to James and a home run to Tannahill in the fifth before she gave way to Wisen to pitch. Wisen got out of the fifth with a strike out and ground out, but allowed a three-run home run to Amanda Bucholz in the sixth.

Notre Dame’s second run came in the fifth inning with a Mattison fielder’s choice ground out. NU’s Tobias escaped serious damage in the inning when Lenn drilled a pitch straight to short stop and Ruthrauff was doubled off of third base.

GAME NOTES: Senior righthander Jessica Sharron saw her first action of the season in the seventh against the Huskers … Sharron threw well, giving up a walk which eventually scored on a two-base fielding error by the Irish … Mallorie Lenn contributed an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh for Notre Dame’s third run.