May 8, 1999
STORRS, Conn. – The Notre Dame softball team (40-18) went a perfect 2-0 at the BIG EAST conference tournament Saturday to advance to the championship game for the second time since joining the conference in 1996. The top-seeded Irish, who won the regular season title with a perfect 16-0 record, defeated the fourth seed Connecticut 4-1 in the first game of the day and the came from behind to defeat two-time defending champion Boston College 9-4 in the second. Notre Dame’s opponent in the championship final of the double elimination tournament, which will start at 2 p.m., will be either Boston College or the winner of the Connecticut versus Seton Hall game.
In the first game of the day against Connecticut, the Irish scored one run in the second inning and two in the third on sophomore Melanie Alkire’s (Union City, Calif.) two run home run. Alkire, the 1999 BIG EAST Player of the Year, moved her season home run total to 10, tying Sara Hayes’ single season school mark set back in 1994. Connecticut finally got on the board in the top of the fourth inning to pull within two, however, the Irish added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to eventually win, 4-1. The Huskies managed just one run on four hits against Notre Dame pitchers Jennifer Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) and Angela Bessolo (Lakewood, Calif.). Sharron picked up the win to move to 17-8 overall, while Bessolo gave up just one hit in three innings of relief work to get her third save of the season.
After third seed Boston College defeated second seed Seton Hall in game two, the Irish faced the two-time defending BIG EAST champion Eagles in game three. Notre Dame scored in its very first at bat when senior first baseman Amy Laboe (Monroe, Mich.) hit her fourth home run of the season over the right field fence. Boston College, however, answered with a three run shot by first baseman Chris Vicari in the bottom of the inning to give the Eagles a 3-1 advantage. The Irish chipped away at the Boston College lead with a run in the second and the third to tie the score at 3-3. After a scoreless fourth inning, the Eagles retook the lead when Vicari was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a single by left fielder Jill Ulbrich in the bottom of the fifth. Boston College’s one-run lead would last not even a half an inning as Notre Dame scored four runs on three hits, highlighted by Laboe’s game-winning, two out double to right-center field. After scoring two more runs in the top of the seventh, Sharron retired the Eagle side in order to seal the 9-4 victory and a berth in the championship final.
The final game of day one, featuring Seton Hall and Connecticut, was postponed until 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 9. The winner of that game will then face Boston College at noon for the chance to meet the Irish at 2 p.m. in the championship final. Should Notre Dame lose, the same two teams will play again at 4 p.m. to determine the BIG EAST champion and the conference’s automatic selection to the NCAA Tournament. The Irish have never won a BIG EAST championship title, finishing as high as second in 1996.