April 11, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team (18-11, 4-0 in the BIG EAST) nabbed a key doubleheader sweep of St. John’s (18-20, 5-5) at Ivy Field on Friday afternoon. The Irish have now won eight games in a row, all in April, and earn two solid victories, 6-1 and 2-1, over the second-place team in the league. First-place Seton Hall comes calling on campus Sunday with a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m.
Freshman designated player Meagan Ruthrauff provided the big hits in both games, drilling a three-run home run (her second of the season) to put the Irish up for good in game one. Ruthrauff also doubled in the fifth inning of game two, getting in scoring position for Andria Bledsoe’s game-winning RBI single.
Notre Dame’s pitching staff shone brightly on Friday as well. Rookie righthander Heather Booth was solid in game one, working 5.2 innings, scattering five hits and giving up just one run. Reliever Carrie Wisen helped her out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and pitched the rest of the game to get the save.
Sophomore Steffany Stenglein pitched four quality innings in game two, giving up just two hits and one run. She left the game in the fifth, giving way to Wisen who picked up the victory with three innings of one-hit softball.
Take away Ruthrauff’s big hit in game one and the Irish offense had a tough time dealing with SJU’s Courtney Fitzgerald. Although she would surrender six runs in the first game, only four of them were earned. She ended up hitting three Irish batters, which got her in trouble in the sixth inning when Notre Dame tacked on an additional three runs to provide the 6-1 winning margin. Fitzgerald was also steady in 2.2 innings of relief in game two, giving up just two hits – the double to Ruthrauff and the single to Bledsoe.
All told, Notre Dame left 14 runners on base in the 12 innings on Friday – missing out on the timely hit which would have allowed game two to be blown open. SJU’s Meghan Allman started the second game and was pitching well, but got into trouble in the fourth when Bledsoe just missed a home run and ended up with a triple off the centerfield wall to lead off the inning.
Allman came back to get Liz Hartmann to pop up, but then posted consecutive hit-by-pitches to Lisa Mattison and Mallorie Lenn. Fitzgerald came in for relief and got out of the inning surrendering just one run on a Kellie Middleton sacrifice fly.