April 1, 2003
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team (12-11) got back over the .500 mark this season with an impressive doubleheader sweep at Purdue (22-14) on Tuesday afternoon. The Irish offense showed up with 18 hits and 14 runs in the two games, while the pitching staff held the Boilermaker’s offense, hitting .317 this season entering the doubleheader, to 13 hits and just four runs.
One of Notre Dame’s top offensive stars was senior short stop Andria Bledsoe. Bledsoe provided much of the scoring punch in game one, rocking a grand slam off Purdue’s Leighann Burke in the third inning of game one. She ended the day two for six with five RBI and two runs scored.
Sophomore Liz Hartmann continued to pound the ball for the Irish, hitting her team-leading fifth home run of the season in game two (she was also robbed of another round tripper later in the game, held in the park by a strong cross wind – she ended up with a double off the wall). Hartmann was three for seven with three RBI in the two games.
Another solid offensive effort was given by senior second base Alexis Madrid. She posted three hits in eight at bats with two RBI and one run scored.
Game one started out slowly for Notre Dame, as the Irish batting order went one-two-three in the top of the first. Meagan Ruthrauff got the offense going by reaching base on an error to begin the second inning. Sara Schoonaert came in to pinch run and beat out the throw at second as Bledsoe attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Both runners ended up safe on the play and the Notre Dame offense was in business.
Hartmann followed with her first hit of the day, a single to centerfield which scored Schoonaert, sent Bledsoe to third and allowed Hartmann to scurry to second on the throw home.
After Lisa Mattison ground out, the Boilermakers attempted to pick Hartmann off second base. As soon as Purdue catcher Jessie Jones let go of the ball, Bledsoe broke for home and easily stole the second run of the inning.
Mallorie Lenn then singled up the middle to move Hartmann to third, but Nicole deFau failed to get down the suicide bunt attempt and Hartmann was caught in no man’s land for the second out of the inning. deFau then grounded out to end the inning.
Steffany Stenglein worked an uneventful second inning to get the Irish offense right back on the field. Megan Ciolli led off by reaching on a fielding error and stole second base. Madrid then singled to first base, moving Ciolli to third. Andrea Loman stepped in and sharply singled to left field, allowing Ciolli to score easily and Madrid to moved to second. She wouldn’t be there long, as Ruthrauff drilled a single to left field to load the bases. Bledsoe then delivered her grand slam on the second pitch she saw in her at bat.
Purdue answered with a home run in the third by Tricia Lilley and another solo shot in the foruth by Andrea Roush, but would get no closer. A great double play turned by the Irish in the sixth inning (pitcher – catcher -first base) helped reliever Carrie Wisen get out of a jam and Stenglein picked up her fourth win of the season (4-4).
Notre Dame was able to get on the scoreboard quickly in game two. With two outs, in the top of the first, Loman got on base when she was hit by a pitch. Ruthrauff then struck out swinging, but reached first base on a passed ball. Bledsoe made Purdue pay for the mistake by lining an RBI single through the right side hole.
Two more Irish runs came in the second inning on a two-out double to left-centerfield by Madrid. Ciolli and Lenn scored on the play while Madrid was thrown out at third.
As starting pitcher Heather Booth was cruising, working out of an occasional scoring threat because of some walks (six in six innings) the Notre Dame bats continued to pound Boilermaker starter Diana LaRiva. Loman singled to start the third and scored two outs later when Hartmann, jumping all over the first pitch, drilled a liner over the leftfield fence for her fifth round-tripper of the season.
The Irish tacked on another run in the sixth. Freshman Kellie Middleton, who frustrated LaRiva with a 16-pitch at bat in the fourth inning (eventually drawing a walk and stealing second and third ), blasted her second home run of the season to leftfield. Another Irish run came in the seventh on an RBI single from Lisa Mattison.
Purdue’s lone run ended up as a home run, hit by Heidi Foster in the bottom of the seventh off of Wisen. Booth got her eighth victory of the season working six inning with four hits and four strikeouts, the only blemish was the six walks which forced her to work out of a couple close calls.
Notre Dame will be back in action on Thursday, April 3, at home against Loyola Chicago. Action begins at 4 p.m. at Ivy Field.