May 13, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team lost its first game of the 2005 BIG EAST Championship 2-1 to the second seed, Seton Hall, on Friday afternoon at the Belleville Complex. The Irish will now have to win three consecutive games if they hope to win the conference title – defeat the winner of Syracuse – Villanova on Friday at 7 p.m., then defeat the Pirates twice on Saturday. Seton Hall has now won six of its last seven games against the Irish.
Steffany Stenglein took the hard-luck loss for the Irish, giving up three hits, two runs and striking out two. SHU’s Megan Meyer dueled her all the way, scattering six hits, giving up one run and striking out four.
Notre Dame briefly enjoyed a lead in the game – scoring on an RBI single by senior Liz Hartmann in the top of the seventh inning. Seton Hall answered with a one-out rally in the bottom of the inning, with the key play a throwing error by Stenglein allowing the tying run to reach second base.
Kate DePaul provided the big hit for Seton Hall, driving in the tying and winning run with a single to rightfield.
Syracuse and Villanova, weather permitting, are scheduled to play at approximately 5:45 p.m. on Friday evening under threatening skies. Notre Dame will need to defeat the winner of that game at approximately 8 p.m. this evening – then face the daunting task of defeating Seton Hall twice in Saturday to earn the league title and automatic bid to the NCAA Championship
Notre Dame ended up as the visiting team in the first game on Friday after losing a coin toss on Thursday evening.
Meyer escaped some difficulty in the first inning when Kellie Middleton reached base on a one-out infield hit. She stole second base, then stole third base when Seton Hall was holding the ball in the pitcher’s circle. Ciolli was due next and she reached after a ground ball to third base, which SHU’s Lindsay Trottier held too long looking Middleton back to third base.
Now with runners on the corners, Ciolli stole second base for her 31st steal of the season. Ruthrauff and Wisen could not come through for Notre Dame, however. Meyer struck out Ruthrauff looking and Wisen popped up the first pitch she was offered to end the inning.
Notre Dame missed out on another scoring opportunity in the second inning when Katie Laing reached base on a perfect bunt single. Mallorie Lenn moved her into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but Liz Hartmann popped out and Sara Schoonaert struck out looking to end the inning.
Yet another scoring opportunity slipped by for the Irish in the top of the sixth inning. Ciolli reached base for the third consecutive time with her first hit of the game (she reached on a fielder’s choice and error earlier in the game) and stole second base. Carrie Wisen was due up for the Irish and Meyer struck her out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning. Going into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Irish had stranded five runners compared to just one for Seton Hall.
The Irish finally broke the scoreless tie in the top of the seventh. Laing led off with a double into right-centerfield and moved to third on Lenn’s second sacrifice bunt of the game. Hartmann was due and she popped a single over the drawn-in infield – as the ball landed where the second base would usually play. Laing scored on the play and Hartmann reached first base for an RBI single.
After Schoonaert flied out to deep leftfield for the second out of the inning, Notre Dame kept the pressure on. Brown reached on Laura Taylor’s second fielding error of the game – moving pinch runner Sarah Smith to second base. The bases then became full of Irish runners when Middleton drew a walk. Ciolli was due next and after fouling off two pitches, she popped up to shortstop to end the threat.
Seton Hall would not go quietly in the bottom of the seventh. Caitlin White dribbled a slow roller back to Stenglein in the pitcher’s circle. Stenglein picked up the ball and needed to hurry her throw first base to get the speedy White. The throw was wide of the bag and White moved to second on a hit and error. She was soon at third base on a ground out by D’arcy Djakalovic.
With BIG EAST Player of the Year and slugger Taylor due up next with the tying run on third base and less than two outs – the Irish intentionally walked the Pirate first base to bring up Lindsay Trottier. Pinch runner Emalee Heim immediately stole second base to put the winning run at second base with one out.
Trottier hit the ball right on the screws, but it was directly at Ciolli in centerfield. She made the catch running toward home plate and threw a strike to home plate to hold the runner at third.
Kate DePaul was due next and she delivered with a single to rightfield, scoring both runners on the play and giving Seton Hall the come-from-behind victory.