May 8, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (44-16, 16-2) saw its bid for a perfect record in conference play come to an end with a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Seton Hall Saturday afternoon. The Pirates shut out #25/22 Notre Dame 5-0 and 1-0 in the two games, marking just the second time Notre Dame has been swept in a doubleheader in BIG EAST play since it joined the league in 1996.
The last weekend of the regular season has been a struggle for Notre Dame over the last three years. In 2003, the Irish lost two of their three conference games on the last weekend of the regular season. During the 2002 season, one of Notre Dame’s two league losses came on the final weekend. In both those instances, the team recovered to win the BIG EAST Championship just a few days later.
The losses are also a blow to Notre Dame’s recently earned national ranking. Notre Dame moved into both national polls this weekend – ranked 22nd in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and 25th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings.
Notre Dame still has two more regular season games left – at St. John’s on Sunday (11 a.m.). The Red Storm are still in the running for a spot in the BIG EAST Championship and need two victories tomorrow to get them in the top four in the final regular season standings. The Irish have already locked up the number one seed in the BIG EAST Championship and will play the fourth seed (Seton Hall, St. John’s or Boston College) at 7 p.m. on May 13 in Syracuse, N.Y.
Seton Hall shut down the Irish bats with two great pitching performances. Junior Megan Meyer allowed four hits and struck out six in the first game, while Senior Casey McDevitt was close to untouchable in game two – giving up two hits and striking out three.
Sophomore Heather Booth, the starter in game one, struggled and gave up four earned runs on five hits while striking out just one. Junior Steffany Stenglein took the hard luck loss in the second contest, giving up four hits, one unearned run and striking out seven.
Game one started out ominously for Booth when with two outs in the bottom of the first, she walked the bases loaded and hit Lindsay Trottier with a pitch to give the home team a run without a hit. A single, stolen base and RBI single gave the Pirates their second run in the third inning and they followed up by adding one in the fourth and two in the fifth.
Seton Hall earned the winning run in the second game with a two out rally in the third inning. McKenzie Richards singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. D’arcy Djakalovic then drove her in with an RBI single to represent all the scoring in game two.
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: Sunday’s losses mark just the second time Notre Dame has been swept by a BIG EAST team in conference play … Boston College won its first two games at Ivy Field ever in 1997 2-0 and 5-0 … the Irish did lose two in a row to Rutgers in 1998, but those games came on different days (the conference schedule was set up for three games in a weekend against one opponent that season) … Seton Hall’s wins are the first two regular-season victories against the Irish in BIG EAST play, their previous win came in the 2001 BIG EAST Championship … the lone offensive highlight of the day for Notre Dame was provided by Stephanie Brown, who was two for three with two doubles in the first game … the two losses on Saturday mark the second time this season that Notre Dame has lost two games after appearing in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 – the Irish were ranked #25 on March 6 before the team lost to Florida International and Massachusetts.