April 10, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (31-11, 6-0) won its third and fourth BIG EAST Conference games in mercy-rule shortened fashion on Saturday afternoon, taking two games from Syracuse (15-17, 1-3) at Ivy Field. The Irish won game one 11-3 in five innings, then dominated game two for an 8-0, five-inning victory. The two five-inning wins mark the first time the Irish have swept through a doubleheader in 10 innings since the 2003 season, when Notre Dame defeated Valparaiso 11-0 and 15-1.
Junior Nicole Wicks was the top offensive star for the Irish on Saturday, going four for five at the plate with four RBI and three runs scored. She tripled twice in the first game, becoming the eighth Notre Dame player to hold the school record for triples in a single contest. Senior Nicole deFau ended the doubleheader four for six, while sophomore Meagan Ruthrauff crushed her ninth home run of the season (a three-run shot) in game two.
Sophomore righthander Heather Booth took home a victory in game one, though she allowed two earned runs and four hits over five innings. Junior Steffany Stenglein continues to be near perfect in BIG EAST play, as she shut down Syracuse for two hits and three strikeouts in four innings during game two. Carrie Wisen finished off game two with a one-two-three fifth inning.
The Irish are off to Nebraska Sunday evening, as Notre Dame prepares to face the Cornhuskers twice in Lincoln on Monday (7 p.m.) and Tuesday (2 p.m.). Monday’s contest will be shown live nationally on CSTV.
GAME ONE RECAP:
After a quick scoreless first inning by both teams, Notre Dame exploded for four runs in the bottom of the second off three hits. Meagan Ruthrauff drew a walk to lead off the inning and Mallorie Lenn followed up with a single to put runners at first and second. Liz Hartmann moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Sara Schoonaert walked to load the bases for Carissa Jaquish.
Jaquish grounded out to first base, allowing Syracuse to force pinch runner Kenya Fuemmeler at the plate. The Orangewomen attempted to turn two on the play, throwing to first base but the ball slipped past the SU first basemen. Jaquish was safe on the play and moved to second – with pinch runner Gessica Hufnagle (in for Lenn) scoring from second base. Schoonaert also moved up on the play (to third) and scored on a wild pitch to put Notre Dame up 2-0.
The Irish were not done yet. Nicole Wicks laced a triple down the rightfield line, driving in Jaquish. Wicks scored one batter later on an RBI single up the middle by Stephanie Brown.
Syracuse came right back to get three runs in the top of the third on two Irish errors. Dani Delgado walked and reached second when Tiffany Robinson’s ground ball to second was misplayed by Brown in the right side hole. Tanya Rose then came through with an RBI single to centerfield for the first Syracuse run of the game. Notre Dame’s second defensive miscue of the inning came when Megan Ciolli dropped a fly ball in the left-centerfield gap – allowing two more runs to score.
Booth would settle down after the third inning, however, and the Irish seized back the momentum with four more runs in the bottom half of the fourth. One of the runs came courtesy of a Syracuse defensive error, but Jaquish also contributed a two-RBI single and Brown an RBI double.
Notre Dame ended the game in the fifth inning with three more runs on Wicks’s second RBI triple, another RBI single from Brown and an RBI from Nicole deFau.
GAME TWO RECAP:
The Irish defense was a key early in game two, turning two double plays in the first and fourth inning to keep Syracuse out of any scoring opportunities. Notre Dame was able to put up four runs in the third inning, followed by four more in the fourth to represent the eight run total.
Meagan Ruthrauff’s three run homer to straight-away centerfield represented three of the RBI in the third inning, while the hot-hitting Wicks stroked a double for run number four.
While Steffany Stenglein was cruising in the pitching circle, the Irish tacked on another four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Nicole deFau singled to lead off the inning and immediately stole second base when Syracuse failed to cover the bag on the play. Megan Ciolli then reached on a fielding error and stole second base to put runners in scoring position for Ruthrauff. Ruthrauff did strike out, but the pitch was wild and she reached base to load the sacks for Mallorie Lenn.
Lenn came through by drilling a single through the left side of the Syracuse defense, driving in two runs.
Wicks’ spot in the line up appeared again with runners in scoring position later in the inning and she responded, lifting a fly ball to rightfield for a sacrifice fly. Ruthrauff scored easily on the deep fly ball, but SU attempted to cut the throw off and get pinch-runner Heather Booth at third. The ball was thrown wide, however, and Booth jumped up and scored the eighth and final run of the game.
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: Stephanie Brown was three for three with three RBI in game one … Megan Ciolli snapped out of a mini-slump in game two, going two for three with two runs scored … Mallorie Lenn was three for six with two RBI in the two games … Liz Hartmann continues to hit the ball well, going three for five at the plate on the day … Carrie Wisen looked good in relief of game two, throwing a one-two-three fifth inning with two strikeouts … Notre Dame enjoyed one of its quickest doubleheaders in recent memory, completing game one in one hour, 36 minutes and game two in one hour, 19 minutes.