March 23, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team won its 20th game of the season in memorable fashion on Tuesday evening, as junior righthander Steffany Stenglein pitched a perfect game to key a 9-0 (six innings) Irish victory at Valparaiso (3-8). Stenglein did not allow a single ball to leave the infield and struck out 14 of 18 batters – the game was called in the sixth inning on the eight-run rule.
“It was one of those days when everything was working,” Stenglein said after the game.
“I had confidence in all my pitches and stayed focused on the next batter while trying not to think about the situation too much.”
While Stenglein was dominating in the circle, the Irish bats exploded to post 13 hits for the second game in a row and plated nine runs. Sophomore Meagan Ruthrauff was three for four with five RBI, while junior Liz Hartmann was three for four. Ruthrauff, sophomore Mallorie Lenn and junior Nicole Wicks all hit home runs for the Irish in the contest.
The perfect game is the second of Stenglein’s career and third career no-hitter. She tossed two no-no’s in 2002, a combined effort with classmate Carrie Wisen against Valparaiso and a solo perfect game vs. Virginia Tech. The 14 strikeouts are also a career-high and season-high for the Irish this season.
Notre Dame put three runs on the scoreboard in the top of the first when senior Nicole deFau walked and junior Megan Ciolli followed with a single. Ruthrauff then drilled her home run – a three-run shot to left center.
Another Irish run came in the third when Wicks hit her third home run of the season with two outs to straight-away centerfield.
Notre Dame followed up with another big inning in the fourth when deFau posted a one-out hit and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ciolli. Ruthrauff then doubled in deFau and scored on a two-run home run by Mallorie Lenn.
The final two Irish runs came in the top of the sixth. DeFau was the catalyst once again, doubling to lead off the inning. She scored on a Ruthrauff single – then Ruthrauff scored on a double from Hartmann.
The other four put outs in the game for Stenglein were a bunt ground out, a ground ball to third, a pop up to second and a ground ball to shortstop. The only drama would come in the bottom of the sixth, when Stenglein found herself at a full count vs. the last Crusader batter. She struck her out swinging, however, to keep the perfect game intact.
Notre Dame will return home on Thursday at 5 p.m. to face Loyola (Chicago) at Ivy Field. The Irish are now 20-9 on the season.
NOTES: Mallorie Lenn continues to break out of her early-season slump, as the sophomore catcher has 10 hits in her last eight games to raise her average almost .100 points … as mentioned in the game story, the perfect game today gives Steffany Stenglein her second career no hitter vs. Valparaiso (2002) … the perfect game is the 11th in school history and first since Stenglein shut down Virginia Tech in 2002 … it also is the 32nd no hitter in school history … Nicole deFau (2-3, three runs), Megan Ciolli (2-3, one run), Mallorie Lenn (2-4, two RBI, one run) and Liz Hartmann (3-4, one RBI) all had multiple hits in the game.