March 30, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (16-8) won its 23rd and 24th straight game over Valparaiso (0-19) with a doubleheader sweep at Ivy Field on Wednesday afternoon. The Irish won game one 5-0, then crushed the Crusaders 10-0 in five innings for a game two victory. The offensive star of the day was senior Liz Hartmann, who finished the two games three for four with a home run and five RBI.
Continuing a string of no-hitters against Valparaiso, senior Carrie Wisen and junior Heather Booth posted a perfect game in the second contest, sitting down all 15 batters they faced. Notre Dame has now thrown a no-hitter against the Crusaders in two of the last three years and Wisen picks up her second combined `no-no’ against Valpo, also combining with Steffany Stenglein in 2002.
While Notre Dame’s strong pitching was a highlight of the day, it was not the top moment for the Irish. The first inning of game two proved to be the high water moment for the team, as Notre Dame broke out to crush three first-inning home runs off Valparaiso starter Chris Halstead – who ended up lasting just 1/3 of an inning.
Sophomore Stephanie Brown led off the game with a solo home run, her first round tripper of the year after hitting seven as a rookie last season. Freshman Katie Laing, who went three for six at the plate hitting in the number two spot for the first time this season, followed with a double. Senior Megan Ciolli stepped in next with a single to centerfield, moving to second on a throw to third base.
That opened up first for a walk to junior Meagan Ruthrauff, setting the stage for Hartmann’s big home run. The junior out of Novato, Calif., crushed the second pitch she was offered over the leftfield wall for a grand slam – the first of the year for Notre Dame and the first of Hartmann’s career.
After junior Mallorie Lenn was robbed of a hit on a great catch in centerfield, the hit parade continued when Gessica Hufnagle singled to right field. She soon scored when senior Nicole Wicks, in just her eighth at bat of the season, notched her first hit of the 2005 campaign. It was a big one, clearing the wall in leftfield to drive in the seven Irish run of the first inning.
Run number eight was delivered one out later when Laing fouled out and the Valpo defense threw the ball away, allowing junior Sara Schoonaert to score from second base (she had reached on a bunt single and moved to second on a throwing error).
Notre Dame tacked on two more runs in the third inning of game two when Brown walked and scored on a Laing triple to left-centerfield. Ciolli then drove Laing in with a sacrifice fly.
The Irish jumped out to a quick lead in game one as well. Hartmann doubled to lead off the second inning and moved to third on a ground out. She soon scored on a double to centerfield by Lenn. Pinch runner freshman Sarah Smith then entered the game and stole third base and she scored one out later when Schoonaert doubled down the righfield line.
Three more runs were delivered in the third inning. Laing led off with a single, followed by a bunt single from Ciolli. Ruthrauff walked to load the bases and Hartmann drew another walk to drive in a run. Designated player Wisen then drove in two runs with a single to leftfield.
Steffany Stenglein, who struck out 14 in a perfect-game performance against Valparaiso a year ago, allowed two hits in five innings of game-one work. She struck out 10, hitting double-digit strikeouts for the fourth time this season.
Sophomore Kenya Fuemmeler recorded her best pitching outing of her career, finishing off the shutout with two solid innings – not allowing a hit and striking out one.
Notre Dame will be back in action tomorrow, Thursday, March 31, with a single game at Loyola Chicago (5 p.m.).
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: Junior Kellie Middleton, Notre Dame’s every-day leftfielder, did not play in Wednesday’s doubleheader after having some minor dental surgery this week … she is expected back in the lineup for this weekend’s BIG EAST contests at Rutgers (Saturday) and Villanova (Sunday) … freshman Brittany Glynn recorded her first career at bat in game two, popping out to shortstop … every starting player for Notre Dame in game two recorded a hit, led by Katie Laing’s two for three performance … Wednesday’s doubleheader did wonders for the Irish season statistics – here is a quick look at the top Irish batting averages (Ciolli – .384, Laing – .345, Hartmann – .318, Middleton – .309, Ruthrauff – .303 and Brown – .300).