April 15, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team (22-11, 8-0) finally caught up with the rest of the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish still have one more rained-out doubleheader to make up in conference play, but ascended to first place in the league standings with 5-1 and 10-1 victories at Providence (11-15, 1-9) on Tuesday.
The Irish and Friars were previously scheduled to meet on April 5, but the early-spring winter storm that cancelled much of the outdoor sports in New England forced the game to be played on the 15th. Notre Dame still has to make up a double dip with Virginia Tech, snowed out that same weekend, but are now 8-0 in conference play and sit in first place ahead of Boston College (7-1).
Notre Dame put up double-digit hits in both games of the doubleheader against the Friars, making it four-straight contests Notre Dame has put up at least 10 hits as a team. Andria Bledsoe and Lisa Mattison both posted four hits in both games, while the Irish pitchers scattered seven hits and allowed just two runs, one of which was unearned. Notre Dame’s pitching staff has not given up more than five hits in the last 10 games.
Providence held a one-run lead for much of game one after a single and a double put the home team on the board in the bottom of the first.
It took Notre Dame four innings to answer when Megan Ciolli led off the fifth inning with her second home run of the season to tie the game. Alexis Madrid followed with a single, but was forced out at second on an Andrea Loman ground ball. Meagan Ruthrauff then singled, followed by another single from Bledsoe which allowed Loman to score from second base. With Ruthrauff on third, Liz Hartmann hit a sacrifice fly for the third run of the inning. Lisa Mattison rounded out the scoring with an RBI single.
Notre Dame added one more run in the sixth on a Madrid RBI single.
Heather Booth worked her seventh complete game of the season to pick up her 13th victory, giving up four hits, one run, two walks and striking out six.
The Irish offense was quiet for the beginning of game two as well, but starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein kept the Friars off the scoreboard with 4.0 innings of two-hit softball.
Bledsoe led off the fourth with a single. After Hartmann fouled out, Mattison came through with a single to put runners at first and second. Mallorie Lenn was then struck by a pitch to load the bases. Kellie Middleton was due next, but she bounced into a fielder’s choice at third and Bledsoe was forced out at the plate. With the bases still loaded, Ciolli was hit by a pitch to force in the first run of the game. Madrid then followed with a single to put Notre Dame up 2-0. Middleton got caught in a run down between second and third to end the inning.
Two more Notre Dame runs came in the fifth when Loman scored on a wild pitch and Bledsoe singled again for an RBI. Loman then came through with a two-RBI double in the sixth and Ruthrauff scored on an error to make up Notre Dame’s 10 runs.
Three pitchers were used in game two by Notre Dame, as Stenglein picked up here seventh win with 4.0 IP, two hits, two walks and three strike outs. Carrie Wisen worked two innings of perfect relief and Jessica Sharron finished off the contest in the seventh.
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: Notre Dame player performances, Megan Ciolli – two for eight, four RBI, Alexis Madrid – three for four, two RBI, Andria Bledsoe – four for seven, two RBI, Lisa Mattison – four for seven, two runs, RBI, Andrea Loman – two for seven, two RBI, three runs, Meagan Ruthrauff – three for eight, two runs, Mallorie Lenn – one for four … Notre Dame has now won 12 straight games, its longest win streak since 4-17-02 to 5-2-02 … the Irish had six stolen bases in the two games … Ciolli’s home run in game one marked the first time in her career she has hit round trippers in consecutive contests … Ciolli also has seven RBI in the last three games.