May 22, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (46-15) saw its season come to an end with two losses to #18/19 Northwestern (42-16) on Sunday afternoon. Northwestern won game one 4-1, then held on for a 4-3 victory in game two. The Wildcats will move on to face DePaul in the NCAA Super Regionals, at a site yet to be determined.
Notre Dame’s season comes to an end, but the legacy of the squad will include hosting the team’s first-ever NCAA regional. The Irish also won their 10th consecutive BIG EAST Regular- Season Championship in 2005, claimed two in-season tournament titles (GRU Classic at Florida and the Hawaii Spring Fling) and finished as the BIG EAST tournament runner up.
Notre Dame ended up coming short on offense – though they managed to out-hit the Wildcats 8-3 in game two. The Irish were not able to post the timely hit needed to either get back in the game, or extend their lead further.
The Irish pitching staff kept its team in the game, but they were out-dueled by Northwestern’s Eileen Canney and Courtnay Foster. Canney won game one (seven innings, two hits, one run allowed) and saved game two (three innings, one hit, one run, two strikeouts) while Foster won game two (four innings, five hits, two strikeouts).
Junior Heather Booth started game one for the Irish, but was chased from the game in the fourth inning by back-to-back home runs. Senior Steffany Stenglein finished off game one (four innings, two hits, four strikeouts) and started game two (three 1/3 innings, two hits, four runs and five strikeouts). Booth pitched well in relief in game two (two 2/3 innings, one hits, three strikeouts).
Notre Dame scored first in each game on Sunday, but failed to hold the lead in both contests. The big hits in game two were a two-run home run by NU’s Stephanie Churchwell and a two-run double by Erin Mobley. In game one, Kristen Amegin and Sheila McCorkle hit home runs for Northwestern.
The Irish offense was paced by sophomore Stephanie Brown (two for six, two runs scored), junior Meagan Ruthrauff (two for three with an RBI in game two) and junior Mallorie Lenn (one for three with a solo home run in game two).
GAME TWO RECAP:
Notre Dame again scored early in game two, this time as the visiting team on the scoreboard. Brown led off game two with a double (just like game one) and scored on an RBI single through the left side by Meagan Ruthrauff.
The Irish threatened again in the top of the second, loading the bases for Kellie Middleton. Middleton hit the ball hard, but flew out to the warning track in left-centerfield to end the inning.
Northwestern seized control of the game in the bottom of the third with their third home run of the day. Katie Logan drew a walk to lead off the inning and scored when Stephanie Churchwell drilled a home run over the wall in left-centerfield to erase Notre Dame’s one-run lead.
Another defensive error led to a scoring opportunity for Northwestern in the bottom of the fourth inning. Darcy Sengewald lifted a towering fly ball to rightfield, which was eventually dropped by Brown. Sengewald advanced all the way to third base on the play. Katie Logan followed by drawing a walk and Erin Mobley made the Irish pay for the defensive lapse – drilling a double down the rightfield line for two RBI – a hit that would prove to be the game winner.
Notre Dame inched closer in the fifth inning when Kellie Middleton reached on a throwing error. Ciolli followed by drawing a walk to put two runners on base. The walk forced a pitching change for Northwestern, who turned to game one winner Eileen Canney. Ruthrauff reached on a fielder’s choice, as Ciolli was forced out at second and Middleton moved to third. Wisen drove Middleton in with a sacrifice fly, but Katie Laing struck out looking to end the threat.
The Irish cut the lead to one run in the sixth inning when Lenn led off with a towering home run to centerfield. Hartmann followed with a single and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. She was stranded, however, when Brown and Middleton both grounded out to end the inning.
Notre Dame was able to load the bases in the top of the seventh against Canney with a single by Ruthrauff, fielder’s choice reach by Laing and a walk to Lenn. Hartmann grounded out sharply to third base to end the game.
GAME ONE RECAP:
Notre Dame jumped ahead early in game one with one run in the bottom of the first inning. Brown led off with a double down the leftfield line. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kellie Middleton and scored on an RBI ground ball by Ciolli.
Northwestern answered back in the top of the second inning after a careless error by the Irish. With one out, Sheila McCorkle lifted a towering pop up on the Irish infield behind the pitcher’s circle. Both Sara Schoonaert and Katie Laing moved in to make the catch but did not communicate with each other. They bumped just as Schoonaert was making the catch and the ball fell to the ground.
The Wildcats made the Irish pay for the mistake when McCorkle stole second base and scored on a single by Darcy Sengewald.
NU took the lead for good in the game in the third inning. Stephanie Churchwell doubled to lead off the inning, moved to third on ground ball and scored on an error by Notre Dame’s Meagan Ruthrauff at first base.
The first two runs scored against Booth in game one were unearned, but Northwestern chased her from the game in the fourth inning on back to back home runs from Kristen Amegin and McCorkle.
Stenglein entered in relief to finish off the fourth inning and she finished off Northwestern’s scoring chances for the rest of the contest. Stenglein would allow just two hits over the final four innings while striking out four and allowing just one walk.
Unfortunately for the Irish, NU’s Eileen Canney was equally effective. She held the Irish to just two hits, striking out four and walking one. The closest the Irish came to a rally was in the sixth inning with two runners on and one out, but Carrie Wisen grounded out sharply to third base to end the threat.