March 7, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (11-6) earned its first victory of the weekend at the FAU/Worth Invitational in Boca Raton, Fla., with a 2-0 victory over North Carolina (12-9) on Sunday afternoon. The Irish will turn around and play the host team of the tournament, Florida Atlantic, immediately following their victory over the Tar Heels.
Notre Dame had two stars in the game, junior Liz Hartmann and classmate Steffany Stenglein. Hartmann, who was forced to sit out Notre Dame’s two losses on Saturday with flu symptoms, shrugged off her illness to go two for three in the contest with the game-winning RBI. Stenglein recovered from her rough outing on Saturday to post her first complete game shut out of the year, scattering three hits while striking six and walking two. The Irish threatened early in the game when Stephanie Brown led off with an infield hit, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Nicole deFau and soon found herself at third base on a fly ball from Megan Ciolli. After Meagan Ruthrauff was hit by a pitch, Hartmann stepped into the batter’s box with runners on the corners and popped up to shortstop to end the inning.
Notre Dame starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein pitched well over the first three innings, but found herself in a trouble spot in the bottom of the fourth. Jessica Young drew the first walk issued by Stenglein and was replaced by a pinch runner. Emily Price followed up with a single to leftfield, putting runners on first and second with one out. Stenglein moved closer to getting out of the jam when Jessica Graziano lined out sharply to leftfield. Michelle Hoffman popped up to Sara Schoonaert at shortstop to end the inning and push the game into the fifth inning.
Another scoring opportunity turned up in the top of the fifth when Mallorie Lenn, starting to work out of a slump she has experienced this season, singled to lead off the inning. Freshman Kenya Fuemmeler came in to pinch run and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Carissa Jaquish. Fuemmeler advanced to third on a ground out to first by Schoonaert, but Brown lined out to first base to snuff out the scoring chance.
While Alison Yin was keeping the Irish offense at bay, Stenglein was matching her effort – allowing just two hits over the first five innings of the game.
Notre Dame got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning, helped out by two Tar Heel defensive errors. Ciolli reached base with one out on an error by UNC’s Anna Evans at second. Ruthrauff followed with a single through the left side to put runners at first and second. The Irish then called their second double steal of the weekend, as Ciolli and Ruthrauff both moved into scoring position on the play. Hartmann was due next and she stepped up with a single through the left side. Ciolli scored easily on the play, but an error by UNC’s Marissa May in leftfield allowed Ruthrauff to score as well and Hartmann to move to third on the throw home. Gessica Hufnagle entered the game to pinch run for Hartmann with Nicole Wicks due at the plate. Wicks grounded out to the short stop on a ball deflected by Yin in the pitching circle. Lenn then flied out to leftfield to end the inning, but the Irish enjoyed their first lead of the weekend.
Carolina came back in the bottom of the inning looking for its first run of the game and started out well when lead off hitter Dionne Street posted a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Stenglein bounced back to end the inning with a fly ball to centerfield and a strike out.
Stenglein did walk the first batter in the bottom of the seventh, but came back to get a line out, fielder’s choice and ground out to end the game. She improves to 4-4 on the season, while Yin falls to 5-5.