March 28, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (23-9) claimed the Hoosier Invitational tournament title with a 2-1 victory over Western Kentucky (21-8) on Sunday afternoon in Bloomington. Both teams were set to meet again for the title, but the coaches agreed to end the tournament and give Notre Dame the tournament title.
The game came down to a pitching battle between Heather Booth for Notre Dame and Adrienne Lathrop for Western Kentucky. Booth earned the victory to improve to 12-3 on the season, while Lathrop gave up just five hits but suffered her fourth loss of the year. Booth struck out 10 for the Irish, posting her fourth 10-strikeout performance of the season.
After three scoreless innings to begin the game – which featured just two hits from the Irish – junior Megan Ciolli led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to rightfield to put Notre Dame in the lead.
Notre Dame tacked on another run in the top of the sixth on two doubles. With one out, senior Nicole deFau drilled a double to the gap in right-centerfield and would score one batter later when Meagan Ruthrauff sent a two-bagger down the leftfield line.
Western Kentucky would manage a dangerous rally in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Jessie Richardson doubled to centerfield and Shelly Floyd followed with a base on balls, putting the tying run at first base. Bailey Rolfs bounced a ground ball to Sara Schoonaert at shortstop, but her throw to third was wide, allowing Richardson to score the unearned run and Floyd to end up at third – with Rolfs at second on the two-base error.
Natasha Sevco then stepped in with the winning run at second base. She blooped a single over Liz Hartmann’s head at third base, but Floyd had to hold at third – struck in the middle of possibly tagging on the tough play or scoring when the ball dropped. The ball did drop behind Hartmann, but she turned quickly and threw a strike to Mallorie Lenn at home plate – who put the tag on Floyd for the second out of the inning. Booth then buckled down and struck out Dana Rey to end the game.
Notre Dame returns home next weekend to begin BIG EAST Conference competition, taking on Connecticut at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 2, followed by Boston College on Sunday, April 4 at 11 a.m. Both dates will be doubleheaders.
GAME NOTES: Megan Ciolli was two for three in the game, raising her season average to .416 … Ciolli’s team-best hitting streak stands at nine games currently … Meagan Ruthrauff completed a dominating week, hitting .583 with three home runs and 10 RBI in four Irish victories … Notre Dame has now won its last eight games, giving up just five runs in those eight contests.