Feb. 28, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (8-4) scored 10 runs in six innings to dispatch Princeton 10-1 in six innings during day two action of the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., on Saturday. Meagan Ruthrauff provided a big part of the offense, going two for three with a home run and four RBI.
The win puts the Irish into a rematch with #14/14 Nebraska at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The Irish defeated the eighth-ranked Huskers 6-4 during the UNLV Classic on Feb. 14. The victory also gives Notre Dame its first-ever two-win second day at the NFCA Leadoff Classic and this weekend’s tournament might end up as the team’s most successful run in the tourney (the Irish are making their sixth appearance this weekend).
Notre Dame struck first after losing the coin toss and becoming the visiting team on the scoreboard. Megan Ciolli lined a single up the middle with two outs, stole second and scored on an RBI single from Meagan Ruthrauff (Ruthrauff’s fourth RBI of the tournament).
Irish starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein made the lead hold up over the first three innings, though it was not an easy road. In the bottom of the first, Stenglein maneuvered out of a bases loaded jam, striking out Erin Snyder looking. After an easy second inning, a lead off hit, followed by a sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and walk put runners on the corners with just one out. Stenglein came back to get a pop up and strike out to escape that inning as well.
Princeton starting pitcher Erin Snyder did take Stenglein deep to tie up the game in the bottom of the fourth and Princeton kept the pressure on when Tiffany Andras reached on a check-swing single that fell just inside the rightfield line. Andras moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Amanda Erickson to give the Irish the first out of the inning. Stenglein earned the second out of the inning on a routine fly ball by Cristina Cobb-Adams.
Kristin Lueke reached base for the second time in the game with a infield single, as Stephanie Brown ranged to her left in the right side hole and smothered the ball, but could not get the throw away in time to get Lueke at first. Notre Dame escaped again, however, when Wendy Bingham popped out to Hartmann in foul territory to end the scoring threat and strand the seventh base runner for the Tigers over the first four innings.
Notre Dame decided to get aggressive in the top of the fifth and it paid off.
With one out, Nicole Wicks drilled a single to leftfield and stole second base. One pitch later, Wicks was at third with another stolen base. Brown then bounced a ground ball toward third, which Tiger third baseman Andras bobbled. The ball got past the fielder, but it hit Wicks before it could go up the line. Brown was safe on the play, Wicks returned to third and the Irish had runners on the corners with one out.
Brown was not at first long, however, as she immediately stole second to get in scoring position for Schoonaert. The Irish shortstop could not come through, however, and bounced a harmless ground ball back to the pitcher. Ciolli stepped in next and laid down a perfect bunt. Princeton was indecisive on what to do on the play, allowing Wicks to score and Ciolli to reach first a step ahead of the throw.
Notre Dame’s hottest hitter, Ruthrauff, came followed up with a great at bat. After looking at three straight balls, she fought off a few close pitches and fouled a number straight back. Snyder then made a mistake pitch and Ruthrauff drilled it for her second home run of the tournament and her fifth, sixth and seventh RBI of the weekend.
The Irish tacked on some additional insurance runs in the top of the sixth, working into a bases loaded situation. Schoonaert drew a walk to force in one run, then Ciolli posted her third hit of the game with a single up the middle to score another runner. Ruthrauff was issued another walk by relief pitcher Calli Jo Varner out of the game with the Irish ahead 8-1.
Hartmann pushed the Notre Dame line up into “batting around” mode with a two-RBI single up the middle to break the game wide open. The Irish ended up putting five runs in the scorebook during the sixth inning and after relief pitcher Carrie Wisen worked a one-two-three inning in the sixth, the game was called (in collegiate softball, an eight-run lead after the fifth inning results in the game ending).
NOTES: Nicole deFau had a great game for the Irish, going three for three at the plate with a double and two singles … that double came in the second inning when she did not hesitate running around first on a hard liner to the gap, turning a single into a double … Notre Dame missed out on a chance for a two-RBI double in the top of the sixth … with runners on first and second, Wicks drilled a ball down the rightfield line, which fell in for a sure double … the Irish base runners (Wisen, deFau) were not running on the play, however, and got tangled up at third base … Princeton missed out on a chance to get either runner, however, as deFau hustled back to second, Wisen jumped back to the bag at third and Wicks retreated to first … in the end, a long hit down the rightfield line ended up as a single … Wisen would end up getting forced at the plate, but deFau and Wicks eventually scored … the 10 runs scored for Notre Dame in the game is a season high for the team … the 12 hits are the second-highes for the team, after their 13 hits vs. Nebraska at the UNLV Classic … freshman Gessica Huffnagle saw her first action of the season at catcher for Notre Dame in the bottom of the sixth … junior Megan Ciolli had three hits in the contest to post her fifth multi hit game of the season … Notre Dame continues play on Sunday vs. #14/14 Nebraska, who upset #3/3 California 3-0 on Saturday night … win on Sunday and the Irish will play for the Silver Bracket Championship at 1 p.m. against an opponent yet to be determined, a loss and the tournament is over for Notre Dame … the victory over Princeton gives Notre Dame a win over the two-time Ivy League Champion – the Tigers also knocked off #15/16 Fresno State and #21/18 Arizona State during the NFCA Leadoff Classic.