March 16, 2001
The 14th-ranked University of Notre Dame softball team suffered its second loss of the season to #5 Oklahoma 4-2 during the second day of competition in the Kia Klassic. The Irish are now 2-1 in the tournament and will enter championship play tomorrow at 11 a.m. against Washington, Hawaii or New Mexico State.
Most of the offensive action from both teams occurred in the first three innings of the contest. After Jenny Kriech (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Danielle Klayman (San Diego, Calif.) were retired by Oklahoma starting pitcher Jennifer Stewart, Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) lined a single to leftfield and eventually advanced to second base on a passed ball. Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.) drew a walk and the Irish appeared to have an advantageous scoring opportunity in the first inning. Sooner catcher Ashli Barrett caught Alkire leaning at second base, though, and picked the Irish shortstop off to end the inning.
Oklahoma, the defending National Champions, possess a number of powerful bats in its lineup and the Sooner hitters were on their game from the first pitch of the contest. Christy Ring led off with a single, but Irish starter Jen Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) was able to strikeout Kelli Braitsch for the first out of the inning.
Lisa Carey followed with a home run to centerfield to give her team a 2-0 lead. It is the fifth homer that Sharron has given up this season. The Sooner offense kept the pressure on as Barrett doubled to left-centerfield. Sharron recovered briefly to strikeout Andrea Davis, but Jennifer Stump posted another double to score Barrett.
The Sooner hit streak continued as Loah Gulla singled to score Stump from second base.
Irish head coach Liz Miller replaced Sharron with freshman Kristin Schmidt (Houston, Texas) and the Irish righthander was able to immediately end the inning by striking out Erin Evans on three straight pitches.
Notre Dame would not allow the Sooners to enjoy their four-run lead for long. Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, Calif.) started an Irish rally with a single to rightfield, followed by Andrea Loman (Riverside, Calif.) ripping her first of three hits in the game. After Andria Bledsoe (Higley, Ariz.) struck out, designated player Kas Hoag (Southington, Conn.) provided an RBI single and would advance to second on the throw home attempting to stop Lemire from scoring.
Alexis Madrid (Temecula, Ariz.) knocked in the second run of the inning with a RBI groundout to second base. Kriech eventually ended the inning by popping up to first base.
Both pitchers would seize control of the contest after the first two innings. Schmidt would surrender just two hits after coming into the game, working her way out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning. Stewart would scatter just three hits over the final five innings to secure her 15th win of the season.
Notre Dame will continue competition in the Kia Klassic Saturday, March 17, at 11 a.m. against a opponent yet to be determined. They finish pool play 2-1, defeating Utah State and #7 Fresno State on Thursday, March 15. Utah State and Fresno State both finish pool competition 1-2 while the Sooners posted a 3-0 record.
Oklahoma ends Notre Dame’s eight-game win streak, dating back to its first loss of the season 2-0 at Arkansas, which also ended an eight-game win streak … the four runs Oklahoma pushed across the plate are the most the Irish have given up this season … Jenny Kreich went hitless at the plate for just the second time this season vs. the Sooners … freshman pitcher Kristin Schmidt continues to baffle opposing batters this season … the Irish rookie has a 0.97 ERA, a 7-1 record and 72 strikeouts in 55.2 inning pitched … she also has 20 strikeouts in her last two appearances (12.1 innings).