March 20, 2004
On a day which turned from nasty to beautiful weather-wise, the University of Notre Dame softball team (19-9) earned two victories over Eastern Michigan (8-10) in its home opener on Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame’s pitchers racked up 20 strikeouts in the two games and head coach Deanna Gumpf won her 100th and 101st career games. The Irish won game one 2-0 and game two 9-1 in six innings.
Sophomore Heather Booth earned her 10th victory over the season (against three losses) in game one, allowing just two hits while striking out nine. Junior Steffany Stenglein evened her record at 6-6 on the year with a win in game two, striking out a season-best 11.
The weather was ugly when the games started, but cleared to become sunny and windy at the end of the day. The conditions at the beginning of the doubleheader might have contributed to a slow start by both teams, as no runs were scored over the first three innings.
Notre Dame finally got on the board in the fourth inning when junior Megan Ciolli (now batting .409 on the season after today’s games) laid down a bunt single and scored from first when a Meagan Ruthrauff single to leftfield was misplayed by Eastern Michigan.
The Irish tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning when Nicole deFau scored on a bases loaded fielder’s choice ground ball from Liz Hartmann.
While the Irish offense struggled a bit in game one, Booth was on cruise control, allowing two singles, a hit by pitch and walk. Her nine strikeouts mark the sixth time this season she has surpassed the eight-strikeout barrier this season.
Notre Dame’s offense woke up in the second contest, pounding out a season-high 13 hits with nine runs – ending the game in the sixth on the eight-run mercy rule. Lead off hitter Stephanie Brown was three for four in the game with two runs scored and an RBI, while Ciolli matched her with three hits. Sophomore Mallorie Lenn hit her first home run of the season, while Liz Hartmann contributed her fourth.
The Irish scored one run in the first, three in the second and ended the game with five in the sixth. DeFau and Brown had RBI singles, while Hartmann’s home run trot sent two home in the sixth. Ruthrauff also had a sacrifice flly in the sixth.
Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf entered the day with 99 wins, but typical of her humble personality, she was surprised when her team came through with a small gift at the end of game two. Gumpf’s career record at Notre Dame stands at 101-43 (.701) entering tomorrow’s doubleheader at Western Michigan (1 p.m.).