May 17, 2002
The University of Notre Dame softball team (43-16) escaped the first round of the NCAA Region VII Tournament on Thursday with a 3-2 victory over Iowa on just three hits. The Irish offense was held in check once again on Friday, but Oregon State (40-23) took advantage of two Irish errors to steal a 2-0 victory and move on in the winner’s bracket of the tournament. Notre Dame will face either Iowa at noon tomorrow (if the Hawkeyes knock off top-seeded Nebraska in their contest at 7 p.m. on Friday), or the loser of a Nebraska – Oregon State matchup (scheduled for 2:30 p.m. tomorrow if the Huskers knock out Iowa) at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“We did not play well,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said after the game against Oregon State.
“They scored two runs off defensive errors and we did not hit the ball. You cannot win a game when you play like that.”
Notre Dame was unable to solve Beaver starting pitcher Crystal Draper, who kept the Irish offense off the scoreboard with an effective rise ball. She would end up with a complete-game shutout, striking out six and walking one.
Irish starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein pitched well over 5 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and two runs.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Oregon State’s Michelle Chariton was hit by a pitch. Stenglein’s toss simply ran inside as Chariton went through her slap hitting routine. Chariton moved to second on a single, then to third base on a deep fly ball to centerfield. Stenglein did get ahead in the count against Jenni Jodoin 0-2, but uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Chariton to score the first run of the game.
The only scoring threat Notre Dame could muster came in the bottom of the third. Jenny Kriech came through with a two-out single through the left side and Megan Ciolli was hit by a pitch to put Kriech in scoring position.
Draper escaped the inning when Andrea Loman flied out to the warning track on the foul line in leftfield.
Another Notre Dame scoring chance presented itself in the bottom of the fourth. Jarrah Myers led off with an infield single, hustling down the line after driving a ground ball deep into the left side hole. Andria Bledsoe stepped in and had a solid at bat, fouling off several pitches (many of which were home run depth and just foul down the leftfield line) before missing a high rise ball for the first out of the inning.
Lisa Mattison followed up with her own solid at bat, looking at several pitches before drawing a walk to put runners at first and second. Liz Hartmann stepped in next and lifted a short fly ball to rightfield that forced Myers to go half way to third in case the ball dropped.
Oregon State leftfielder Jessica King caught the ball and threw to second in an attempt to pick off Myers, but the throw was wide, allowing both runners to advance one base. Draper quickly put out the fire, getting Wisen to pop out on the first pitch.
Oregon State quickly seized the momentum in the top of the fifth, scoring a run off two Notre Dame errors. With two outs, Clare Burnum reached when Mattison misplayed a ground ball. The situation worsened when Chariton slapped a bloop single to rightfield to put runners on first and second.
Brynnen Guthrie followed with a hard ground ball destined to shoot through the middle of the Notre Dame defense. Bledsoe made a great diving stop to keep it in the infield and save the run, but when she flipped to Alexis Madrid at second, Madrid muffed the catch and the ball skittered through the Irish infield. Burnum quickly rounded third base and scored on the play for a big insurance run for the Beavers.
Carrie Wisen entered the game in relief of Stenglein in the top of the sixth. Steph Adams had posted a one-out single and Wisen was able to get a line out to centerfield and a strike out to end the inning.
Draper would prove too tough for the Irish hitters in the last two innings, retiring Myers, Bledsoe and Mattison in a row during the sixth. The only hit she allowed was a hustle infield single by Madrid with two outs in the seventh, but Kriech popped out to end the game.
Here is the complete scenario for Notre Dame in the tournament. Wisconsin and Illinois-Chicago have been eliminated. Iowa and Nebraska will play at 7 p.m. on Friday evening. If the Cornhuskers win, Iowa will be eliminated and Nebraska will face Oregon State at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Notre Dame would then face the loser of that game at 5 p.m.
If Iowa defeats Nebraska, the Cornhuskers will face Notre Dame at noon tomorrow in an elimination game.