March 23, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team (10-9) began the second part of its season with two solid victories at Western Michigan (12-10) on Sunday afternoon. The Irish jumped out for five runs in the top of the first inning during game one and ended up with an 8-5 victory. Notre Dame cruised to and 8-0 victory in game two.
Sunday’s doubleheader was the first time Notre Dame was back on the field since returning from Spring Break and the Kia Klassic – the final preseason tournament of the year. The next string of Irish games will be BIG EAST Conference and regional doubleheaders before postseason play begins in May.
Sophomore outfielder Megan Ciolli was the offensive star for Notre Dame on the day, piling up four hits in eight at bats and two RBI. Meagan Ruthrauff also had four hits and two RBI while Andrea Loman had three hits and two RBI as well.
In the pitching circle, Steffany Stenglein started game one and pitched well, but ended up struggling at the end of the game once again. Stenglein worked the first five innings of game one, giving up two runs on a home run. WMU came back to get three runs in the bottom of the sixth, forcing Stenglein out of the game. Carrie Wisen came in to get her first save of the year. Heather Booth cruised through the first five innings of game two, striking out seven and giving up just one hit (in the bottom of the fifth). Jessica Sharron worked two innings of solid relief in game two.
On offense, the Irish game day was defined by 25 team hits in the two games. Notre Dame came out and posted five runs in the top of the first inning in game one and never looked back. Ciolli led off the big inning with a triple to the wall in left-centerfield. She eventually scored on a Bronco fielding error which allowed Loman to reach base. Ruthrauff then drove in the second run of the inning with a double into centefield. Eventually, RBI singles from Liz Hartmann and a two-run fielding error accounted for the three additional Notre Dame runs in the inning.
Mallorie Lenn and Ciolli added RBI singles in the sixth inning and Hartmann collected her second RBI of the game with a single in the seventh.
Western Michigan threatened to get back in the game in the sixth inning. Marie McCarthly led off with a home run to cut the lead to 7-3. Stenglein came back to get a strike out and a fly out, but issued two walks and a single to load the bases. Bronco lead off hitter Angie Fiero then came through with a two RBI single. Suddenly, a comfortable 7-1 lead was cut to 7-5.
Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf went to Carrie Wisen in relief and the sophomore right hander immediately put out the fire with a routine liner to second base.
After the Irish tacked on an insurance run in the seventh on Hartmann’s single, Wisen did issue a walk to WMU’s Crystale Gorny. She immediately induced a double play ground ball to Andria Bledsoe at short stop, who flipped to Sara Schoonaert at second base. Schoonaert made a nifty turn and throw to immediately put an end to any possible come back by the Broncos. Gina Dobbs grounded out to end game one.
Game two was in control for Notre Dame from the first pitch. Take away four walks and freshman Heather Booth pitched extremely well. Booth ended up with 5.0 innings, one hit, four walks and seven strike outs. The lone hit she issued came in the bottom of the fifth (the final inning she would pitch in the game).
The Irish spread out their scoring in the second game, putting up one run in the first, three in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth and one in the seventh. Ruthrauff, Loman, Bledsoe, Lisa Mattison and Alexis Madrid all had two hits in the game.
Jessica Sharron worked the sixth and seventh innings, allowing just three singles and no runs.
GAME NOTES: The 14 hits Notre Dame posted in the second game of the doubleheader is a team high for the season, eclipsing the 12 the Irish had against CS Northridge on March 9 … Alexis Madrid was hit in the face by a ground ball which took a nasty hop in warm ups, so she started the first game (Madrid has started all 202 games possible since she joined the program) and rested for the final five innings … she played all seven innings in game two … Andria Bledsoe tweaked her ankle in game two, which moved designated player Meagan Ruthrauff to short stop … Bledsoe’s injury is not serious and she should be back in the lineup for the Northwestern doubleheader on Wednesday.