March 29, 2001
The University of Notre Dame softball team continued its winning ways with a doubleheader sweep of Western Michigan (6-14-1) on Thursday evening. The Irish are now 4-0 at home and 22-3 overall on the season.
It was a complete team effort for the Irish, as seven players posted two or more hits in both games. Notre Dame’s pitching continued to excel as well, giving up just one run on only three hits in both games combined.
To kick start the first game, Alexis Madrid (Temecula, Calif.) drilled a single to leftfield with one out in the bottom of the first. Madrid would then steal second base to put herself in scoring position and the Irish cleanup hitter, Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.) answered the call. Myers would blast a double to the wall, scoring Madrid and giving the Irish an early 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame kept the pressure on in the bottom of the second. With one out, Andria Bledsoe (Higley, Ariz.) drew a walk and Irish starting pitcher Jen Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) followed with a double down the leftfield line to put runners on second and third. Danielle Klayman (San Diego, Calif.) then bounced into a fielder’s choice and Bledsoe was thrown out a home.
Jenny Kriech (Indianapolis, Ind.), who would finish five-for-eight in the doubleheader to raise her season batting average to .415, stepped into the box and singled to knock in her 12th and 13th RBI of the season.
The three-run lead would be all that Sharron required to post her 12th win of the season. The Irish All-American surrendered just two hits and one run in the contest while striking out 11. Combined with her 14 strikeouts from her appearance on Wednesday (March 28) vs. Valparaiso, Sharron now has 25 strikeouts in the last 14 innings pitched.
Melanie Alkire’s (Union City, Calif.) RBI single in the sixth, followed by another RBI single from Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, Calif.) accounted for the Irish runs in the fifth inning and Notre Dame would tack on two unearned runs in the sixth inning to account for the final score (7-1) of game one.
Freshman Kristin Schmidt (Houston, Texas) carried the momentum from Sharron’s impressive performance into the second game. Schmidt would give up just one hit for the second straight appearance, striking out nine and allowing just a handful of balls to leave the infield.
The Irish got on the board in the first inning with some aggressive base running. Kriech led off with her first of three hits in the contest and immediately stole second base. Madrid laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Kriech to third and the Irish rightfielder would eventually score on Myers’ fielder’s choice ground out after Alkire drew a walk and stole second.
Myers then stole second base to put two runners in scoring position and Lemire knocked in Alkire with a ground out to second base. By the time the inning had ended, Notre Dame had manufactured three runs off just one hit.
As Schmidt continued to baffle the Western Michigan batters, Notre Dame remained equally quiet at the plate until the fifth inning. Kriech once again led off with a hit and made the Bronco’s defense pay by stealing second and third. The junior now has eight stolen bases this season. Kriech eventually scored on a passed ball to put the Irish up 4-0.
Notre Dame would end the game in the bottom of the sixth on the softball eight-run rule. With the bases loaded, Klayman posted an RBI single followed by a passed ball to put six Irish runs on the board. Kriech knocked in her second RBI of the day with a ground out and Klayman eventually scored on a wild pitch to end the game.
Next up for the Irish will be the first BIG EAST Conference doubleheader of the season against St. John’s at Ivy Field on Saturday (11 a.m.). Notre Dame will begin the quest for its sixth-consecutive BIG EAST regular season title.
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: Notre Dame’s lead off hitter, Jenny Kriech, is now batting .415 with a .547 slugging percentage, 22 runs, 14 RBI and eight stolen bases … Lizzy Lemire was impressive in both games, going four-for-six with two RBI and two runs scored … Lemire has raised her batting average to .333 … not to be outdone, Danielle Klayman also went four-for-six with two RBI and two runs … Jarrah Myers posted two RBI today to give her 24 in 25 games played … the Irish pitching staff has lowered its team ERA to 1.48 over the last four games … the Irish pitchers also have 47 strikeouts in the last 27 innings pitched … RHP Kristin Schmidt has already reached the 100 K barrier.