Feb. 23, 2002
The University of Notre Dame softball team dropped a hard-fought 2-1 loss to red-hot Texas A&M during the second day of competition in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. The Irish are now 4-4 on the season, while the Aggies move up to 13-3.
Notre Dame’s 1-2 record in the tournament landed it in the ‘silver bracket’ of the Leadoff Classic. The Irish will face Arizona State at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, then face the winner or loser of the Michigan – Oklahoma matchup at 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. on Sunday.
After a solid 11 innings of work on Friday, Notre Dame turned to freshman pitcher Steffany Stenglein once again on Saturday against Texas A&M. The rookie hurler kept the Irish in the game, giving up just two runs against the hard-hitting Aggie offense.
A&M’s first run came in the bottom of the first after a lead off hit was followed by a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single from Adrian Gregory.
Notre Dame answered in the third. Megan Ciolli doubled to the wall with two outs and eventually scored on an Andrea Loman single down the leftfield line.
The lead would be short-lived, however. Texas A&M’s Gregory came calling in the third inning, drilling a low and outside pitch deep over the leftfield fence for a solo home run.
The Aggies threatened to add an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Selena Collins led off with a triple to the fence, but Stenglein refused to give in. She induced a pop up to shortstop, a hard ground-out to third base that Notre Dame’s Andrea Loman scooped up, held the runner and made a solid throw to first and a foul out deep in leftfield to escape the inning unscathed.
Jenny Kriech would double with two outs in the top of the seventh to give the Irish a sliver of hope, but A&M starting pitcher Jessica Slataper (who had 11 strikeouts in the game) struck out Megan Ciolli to end the game. It was the first time the Aggies were able to get Ciolli out, as the Irish freshman posted three hits in a game for the second time this season.