May 7, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (41-11) won the BIG EAST Conference regular-season title and earned the number one seed in the BIG EAST Championship with a doubleheader sweep over Rutgers (5-43, 1-15) on Saturday afternoon. The Irish won game one 11-0 and game two 7-1.
With the two victories, Notre Dame completes the 2005 BIG EAST regular-season with a 16-2 record to claim the program’s 10th consecutive regular-season title since it joined the BIG EAST in 1996.
A number of different Irish players had a key role in Notre Dame’s offensive explosion, as the team rapped out 23 hits in the two games. Sophomore Stephanie Brown ended up four for seven in the two games, scoring four runs and driving in two. Senior DP Carrie Wisen hit her first home run of the year in game two, finishing the doubleheader five for six with three RBI. Junior Meagan Ruthrauff had a monster game two, going three for four at the plate with two doubles and two RBI.
In the pitcher’s circle, senior Steffany Stenglein started game one and cruised through five innings of one-hit softball, striking out 12 of the 17 batters she faced. The 12 strikeouts mark the eighth time in nine conference start that Stenglein has posted double-digit strikeouts. She also completes the regular season with five one-hit performances. Sophomore Kenya Fuemmeler finished off game one for Stenglein, pitching a strong two innings while allowing just two hits.
Junior Heather Booth went the distance in game two, allowing four hits, one run and striking out 11.
The sweep provides the Irish with the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Championship, which will be held in South Bend, Ind., at the Belleville Complex, starting Thursday, May 12. Notre Dame will face the fourth seed, Villanova (38-23, 10-8), who earned the berth with a doubleheader sweep of Pittsburgh on Friday, May 6.
The No. 2 seed in the tournament will be Seton Hall (30-13, 15-3), who will face No. 3 Syracuse (27-20, 11-7) in the first game of the tournament on Thursday at 5 p.m. The Irish and Wildcats will follow at 7 p.m.
The two wins also provide Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf with her third 40-win season in four years at Notre Dame. It is also the ninth 40-win season overall by the Irish softball program and sixth in the last seven years.