March 26, 2003
Notre Dame, Ind. – The Notre Dame softball team dropped both games today against #24 Northwestern in its home opener at Ivy Field. Northwestern, behind pitcher Courtnay Foster’s seven strikeouts, took game one 4-2 and then followed that with a win in the nightcap 3-2 behind another strong pitching performance by Laura Schwendimann. Northwestern improves to 17-6 on the season, while Notre Dame falls to 10-11.
In game one, Notre Dame jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Andrea Loman’s third home run of the season. Northwestern soon answered with three runs off Irish starter Steffany Stenglein. Stenglein started the inning by hitting the leadoff batter Ashley Crane. After Crane moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and Brett Nakabayashi reached on a fielder’s choice, right fielder Erin Mobley singled through the right side to score Crane. Stenglein got Carri Leto to foul out to second baseman Sara Schoonaert, but Nakabayashi tagged from third and scored. Mobley then scored on a wild pitch, extending the Wildcats’ lead to 3-1.
Notre Dame answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth as Schoonaert doubled to center with one out and scored on a Megan Ciolli single up the middle. Northwestern put an insurance run on the board in the top of the sixth as Sheila McCorkle, who was pinch running for Cindy Muran who singled with one out in the inning, scored when J.C. Kira walked with the bases loaded.
Foster pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits, while striking out seven and walking one. She improved her record to 8-4 on the year. Stenglein continued to struggle as she gave up four earned runs on five hits, walking three. She dropped to 3-4 in ’03.
In game two, Northwestern jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a two-out RBI single by Kira, scoring Robyn Pettinger. The Irish took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third as Ciolli singled with one out and Schoonaert was safe on a bunt single. Both runners moved up one base on a wild throw by Schwendimann. Loman then singled both Ciolli and Schoonaert home for her third RBI of the day and increasing her team lead to 15 for the season.
Northwestern scored solo runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. After Kira doubled to open the fifth, she eventually scored on Irish shortstop Andria Bledsoe’s error. Widcats first baseman Jamie Dotson put the game away with a leadoff homer off of Irish pitch Heather Booth in the sixth, giving Northwestern the 3-2 win.
Schwendimann improved to 5-2 in ’03 giving up only two runs on five hits and striking out nine. Booth fell to 7-5 on the season, giving up two earned runs and nine hits.
Notre Dame is in action again on Saturday as it opens up BIG EAST play with a doubleheader versus Pittsburgh and then another two games at Virginia Tech on Sunday. Game time Saturday is 11:00 a.m., while Sunday’s first pitch is at 12:00 p.m.