Feb. 20, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (5-1) won its first game at the Palm Springs Classic in California on Friday afternoon, defeating Utah 4-3. The Irish will face Pacific at 6 p.m. local time Friday evening.
Notre Dame was able to build a 4-1 lead, taking advantage of two key defensive lapses by the Utes. Utah did rally with a two-out two-run home run in the top of the seventh, but Irish starting pitcher Heather Booth got a pop up on the next pitch to end the game and pick up her second-straight complete game victory.
Booth ended up surrendering eight hits in the game, but also struck out eight batters – keeping Utah off balance with an effective change up.
On the offensive side for Notre Dame, junior Megan Ciolli starred once again with two hits and a run scored, while Mallorie Lenn provided the lone Irish RBI of the game with a single in the first inning.
In that first inning, Ciolli led off with a single through the middle to lead off the gaem and was moved to second base by a perfect sacrifice bunt from freshman Heather Brown. After Liz Hartmann walked on four pitches, Meagan Ruthrauff bounced into a fielder’s choice and Ciolli was forced out at third. Lenn then came through with a solid single to leftfield. Pinch runner Nicole Wicks easily scored from second on the play, while Utah rightfielder Devina Quintero booted the ball attempting to grab it and throw home. Ruthrauff kept running on the play and scored the second run of the ballgame for the Irish.
Utah responded with one out in the top of the second when Ivette Hernandez drilled a 1-2 pitch over the rightfield fence for a home run. Booth settled down, however, and got the next two batters on routine pop outs.
Two quite innings followed until Notre Dame broke through for its third run in the fifth inning. With one out, Ciolli dropped a hit into centerfield and hustled for a double, as Utah was slow getting the ball back to the infield. One pitch later, Ciolli was at third on a passed ball. Brown then followed through with her second sacrifice of the game, this time a fly ball to rightfield on which Ciolli scored easily.
Notre Dame grabbed another run in the sixth inning – an unearned run that would prove to be the game winner. With two outs, Middleton singled to leftfield and immediately stole second base. Nicole deFau then drilled a ground ball to second base that should have been fielded for the third out, but it ricocheted off Utah’s Jackie Wong for a two base error – allowing Middleton to score on the play.
Wong almost made up for her error with a two-run home run in the seventh, but Booth shut the door to pick up her second victory of the season.
Notre Dame will face Pacific at 6 p.m. local time (10 p.m. South Bend time) to continue play in the tournament.