April 24, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (37-13, 10-0) assumed first place in the BIG EAST Conference on Saturday afternoon by blanking Villanova (25-18, 9-5) 4-0 and 2-0 outside Philadelphia. With the two victories, the Irish take over sole possession of first place in the conference standings, as third place Virginia Tech split with Providence to move to 9-7 in league play.
Notre Dame’s pitching staff carried the torch for the Irish on Saturday, with sophomore Heather Booth and junior Steffany Stenglein posting complete-game shut outs. Booth allowed five hits in the first game, adding eight strikeouts and no walks. Stenglein allowed four hits in the second game, struck out seven and walked just two.
Senior Nicole deFau was the offensive leader for the Irish, dominating the doubleheader to the tune of four hits in seven at bats, three runs scored and two RBI. She also hit a solo home run in the first game, her second homer of the season.
Freshman Carissa Jaquish, coming off a three-hit day at UIC on Thursday, kept her hot hitting alive on Saturday. Jaquish was four for six in the two games and provided the game-winning RBI in game two.
Notre Dame continues its BIG EAST road trip at Rutgers on Sunday, April 25, with a doubleheader at 11 a.m.
GAME ONE RECAP:
Shannon Williams and Heather Booth were the starting pitchers in game one and worked uneventful innings in both the first and second. Notre Dame got on the scoreboard in the third inning when Carissa Jaquish singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sara Schoonaert. Stephanie Brown then posted an infield single to put runners on the corners for Nicole deFau. DeFau, the lone senior on the Irish roster, came through with an RBI single to drive in Jaquish. Megan Ciolli followed with an RBI double, with Brown touching home and deFau moving to third.
Meagan Ruthrauff closed out the Notre Dame scoring in the inning with a sacrifice fly – allowing deFau to score run number three.
Notre Dame tacked on an insurance run in the fifth when deFau led off with a home run. The big hit was her second homer of the season, a new career high for the Southington, Conn., native.
Not that Booth needed much insurance in the contest. She only allowed two base runners after the third inning and is now 5-0 in BIG EAST Conference play.
GAME TWO RECAP:
Steffany Stenglein took the ball for the Irish in game two, with Kristen Haynes entering the circle for Villanova. Notre Dame decided to score one inning earlier in game two, getting a single run in the top of the second. Mallorie Lenn led off with a double and was replaced by pinch runner Kenya Fuemmeler. Liz Hartmann drew a walk to put runners at first and second.
Haynes earned the first out of the inning by striking out Nicole Wicks, but the red-hot Jaquish was due next. She laced a single, driving in Fuemmeler with the first run of the contest. Schoonaert then looked to bunt, but popped up the suicide squeeze attempt – which led to Hartmann getting doubled off at third base to end the inning.
The Wildcats did get four solid hits off Stenglein, but she continued to work her way out of trouble. Villanova put two runners on with no outs in the fourth inning, but Stenglein dug deep to strike out the next three Villanova batters to get out of the inning. The Wildcats also put the tying run at second base in the fifth, but a line out and fly out ended that scoring opportunity.
Needing a little insurance, deFau came through for the Irish again. She doubled to lead off the sixth inning, moved to third on a ground out and scored on an RBI ground out by Ruthrauff.
Villanova put the lead off hitter on in the seventh inning, but the Irish took out the lead runner on the next play with a fielder’s choice. A pop up and fly out ended the game.
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: Notre Dame’s two shut outs in the doubleheader mark the first time the Irish have swept the Wildcats without giving up a run since 2001 … Nicole deFau moved her BIG EAST-only batting average to .452 in the two games on Saturday and leads the Irish with 12 hits in conference play … Meagan Ruthrauff and Stephanie Brown both have 11 RBI in league play this season … Notre Dame’s BIG EAST Conference-only ERA stands at 0.44, with Stenglein leading the way (0.24, 5-0, 2 SHO) and Booth right behind (0.66, 5-0, 3 SHO) … Carissa Jaquish is now seven for her last 10 at-bats, scoring two runs and driving in five over that stretch … Jaquish has raised her season average to .232 … Stenglein has won her last five starts, giving up just 15 hits over that stretch (3.0 per game).