March 10, 2002
The University of Notre Dame softball team (6-8) continued its early-season ‘Jekyl and Hyde’ play in the first two games of its Spring Break trip in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sunday, March 10. The Irish offense starred in a 9-3 victory over Oregon, but then fell silent and Notre Dame dropped the second game of the doubleheader to host UNLV 2-1. It was the fifth time this season that the Irish have split two games in the same day, but Notre Dame reversed the win – loss pattern on Sunday. Previously, Notre Dame had lost to Arizona, then defeated Auburn on Feb. 15, loss to Louisville, then defeated New Mexico State on Feb. 16, lost to Oregon State, then defeated Southern Mississippi on Feb. 22, and lost to Louisiana-Lafayette, but defeated Illinois State on March 1.
With three weekends of competition under their belts, the Irish seemed to be getting their offense back to form in the first game. Notre Dame jumped all over Oregon’s starting pitching to pound out 10 hits and put nine runs on the board
Lisa Mattison began the festivities in the bottom of the first. After seeing two change-ups get called for strikes, the Irish junior sat back on the third and lofted a single to right-centerfield. After Kas Hoag came in to pinch run, Andria Bledsoe cracked a double in the right-centerfield gap to put runners on second and third.
Freshman Liz Hartmann followed up with a single up the middle to plate Hoag with the first Irish run of the day. After Hartmann stole second base, Alexis Madrid came through with another RBI single to put the Irish up 3-0.
Notre Dame starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein worked her second consecutive one-two-three inning with three groundouts in the top of the third to quickly get the Irish bats back to work.
With two outs, Jarrah Myers stepped in and drilled the second pitch she saw over the leftfield wall for her second home run of the year. Mattison then bounced a ball to first base that Oregon mishandled to get on base ahead of Bledsoe.
Notre Dame’s shortstop would eventually hit a towering two-run homer down the leftfield line to put the Irish ahead to stay 6-0.
Oregon would get two runs back in the fifth, but its defense would collapse in the fifth inning. Notre Dame would tack on three more unearned runs to put the game away. Jessica Sharron made her second appearance of the season and pitched the top of the seventh, giving up a harmless run to make the final score 9-3.
Even though three of the Irish runs were unearned in the Oregon game, the team was hitting the ball hard in almost every at bat. UNLV starting pitcher Jackie Kerrigan would change all that in game two.
Kerrigan and Notre Dame’s Carrie Wisen ended up putting on quite a pitching duel, as neither hurler would surrender an earned run in the game. It would be two defensive mistakes, one by each respective team, that put the runs up on the scoreboard.
Both offenses were shut down until Bledsoe was hit by a pitch to start Notre Dame’s half of the fifth inning. After a Hartmann pop out, Annie Dell’Aria sent a bloop single down the right field line to advance Bledsoe to third base. Madrid bounced a grounder that UNLV second base Morgan Bostwich misplayed, which allowed Bledsoe to score the first run of the game.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame’s lead would not last long. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Melissa Inoye singled and Amber Campbell followed up by drawing a walk. With runners at first and second, Notre Dame’s Andrea Loman stabbed a sharp grounder by UNLV’s Carrie Bayless and threw her out at first while both runners moved to second and third.
Wisen got exactly what she wanted, a ground ball from Rebel leadoff hitter Lisa Moses to end the inning. Unfortunately, the ball took a hop before it reached Madrid at second, then careened off her shoulder into rightfield while Inoye came in to score. Irish freshman Megan Ciolli got the ball quickly and made a solid throw home in an attempt to stop Campbell from scoring, but the runner was called safe on a very close play.
With a sudden lead, Kerrigan became dominate for the rest of the game. Notre Dame was retired in order in the sixth and seventh innings and Wisen took the tough loss to drop to 1-2 on the season.
Notre Dame has shifted to Southern California to continue its Spring Break trip. The Irish will face Long Beach State on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., followed by a matchup with #2 Arizona in the first round of the Kia Klassic on Thursday.