Feb. 21, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team fell to 5-3 on the season with a 4-2 loss to #8/8 Stanford (9-2) on the second day of action at the Palm Springs Classic. The Irish spotted the Cardinal three runs in the bottom of the first off two errors and an eventual rally in the sixth inning fell short. While Notre Dame out-hit Stanford 7-4 in the ball game, the Irish also left eight runners on base.
Notre Dame will end day two action against the U.S. Olympic Team in an exhibition on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. in South Bend, Ind.).
Stanford’s three runs in the first inning came in the top of the first off two Notre Dame defensive miscues. Jackie Rinehart led off for the Cardinal with a slap hit down to third base, which Notre Dame’s Liz Hartmann then threw past the first basemen. Rinehart ended up at second on the play and soon found herself at third when Katherine Hoffman’s sacrifice bunt attempt was bobbled by Irish starting pitcher Heather Booth.
Hoffman soon stole second base to get in scoring position, then Catalina Morris walked to load the bases with no outs. Booth recovered initially to get Lauren Lappin to ground out to third, allowing an easy force play at home for the first out of the game.
Booth’s recovery was short-lived, however, as she walked Jessica Allister to force in a run, then issued another free pass to Meghan Sickler for Stanford’s second run. Leah Nelson followed up by drilling a ball deep into leftfield, destined to be a devastating grand slam for Stanford. Notre Dame’s Nicole deFau, the lone senior on this year’s squad, camped under it at the temporary fence (the Big League Dreams ballpark, at which the Palm Springs Classic is being held, is designed for slow pitch softball – making temporary fences necessary for fast pitch) and brought it back into the park by making a great jumping catch.
DeFau fell over the plastic fencing and held onto the ball for a sacrifice fly, allowing the third Stanford run to score. Booth escaped any further damage in the inning by getting Elizabeth Bendig to line out sharply to centerfield.
Booth eventually settled down, however, save for a solo home run in the third inning by Stanford’s Morris. The Irish, on the other hand, were dealing with Cardinal starting pitcher Dana Sorensen – who continually escaped innings with runners in scoring position.
The Irish did finally break through for two runs in the top of the sixth. Meagan Ruthrauff walked and was replaced by pinch runner Nicole Wicks. Hartmann followed with a double into left-centerfield to put two runners in scoring position.
Kellie Middleton then lifted a sacrifice fly to leftfield on which Wicks scored. Stanford, trying to catch pinch runner Gessica Hufnagle at third base, threw the ball away allowing the second Notre Dame run of the inning to score.
Notre Dame would draw no closer in the contest, however, as Sorensen picked up her fifth victory of the season. Booth falls to 2-2 for Notre Dame.
The pitching lines in the game: Sorensen – 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K; Booth – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K … Sara Schoonaert was two for two in the game and made three very good defensive plays at short stop, ranging to her left for three ground ball outs … Meagan Ruthrauff was two for three in the contest with a walk.