April 9, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (24-8) moved to 4-0 in the BIG EAST Conference and extended its winning streak to 13 games with a doubleheader sweep at Pittsburgh (15-17, 2-2) on Saturday afternoon. The Irish won game one 7-2, then finished off the sweep with a 6-0 shutout in game two.
While Notre Dame’s offense should receive credit for putting up 13 runs against the Panthers, the Irish pitching staff is beginning to steal the team’s accolades. Senior Steffany Stenglein and junior Heather Booth both posted 12 strikeouts in their complete game victories on Saturday, holding Pittsburgh to six hits and just two runs.
Stenglein mowed through the Panther order until she tired a bit in the seventh inning, allowing a two-run home run to Lisa McGregor in the bottom of the seventh inning to spoil her shutout bid. Stenglein has now posted double-digit strikeout totals in seven games this season and five times in her last six starts.
Booth was equally unhittable in game two, striking out another 12 Panthers and allowing just two hits. The 12 strikeouts match her career best over seven innings from a Troy State victory in 2004 and marks the first time she has reached double-digit strikeouts in ’05.
While the pitchers were cruising along, the Irish offense pounded out 23 hits in the two games and scored 13 runs – led by freshman Katie Laing with three hits and four RBI in the two games. It took three innings for the Irish to get on the scoreboard in game one, as the team exploded for three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Laing started the scoring with a one-out solo home run (her second of the year) and senior Liz Hartmann followed with a single.
Pinch runner Nicole Wicks stole second to get in scoring position for senior DP Carrie Wisen, who came through with a single, pushing Wicks to third. Wicks eventually scored on an error by Pittsburgh leftfielder Jessica Thomas and sophomore Carissa Jaquish, who pinch ran for Wisen, scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Mallorie Lenn.
The Irish tacked on another run in the fifth inning off two Pittsburgh errors, Laing drove in the run with a sacrifice fly.
The final three Irish runs of the game came on a two-RBI single by junior Kellie Middleton in the sixth inning and a lead off solo home run by senior Meagan Ruthrauff in the top of the seventh.
Notre Dame struck a bit earlier in game two, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning. Ruthrauff led off with a single and Laing followed with a bunt hit. Hartmann then drew a walk to load the bases for Wisen, who delivered in the clutch yet again with a two-RBI single to centerfield.
After a fielder’s choice put out at home plate on a ground ball by Lenn, junior Sara Schoonaert drove in the third run of the inning with a single to rightfield.
Two more Irish runs were put on the board in the fifth inning when Middleton and senior Megan Ciolli led off the inning with back-to-back singles. They scored one batter later when Laing continued her hot-hitting streak with a two-RBI double to right-centerfield.
The final run of the game was delivered by Ciolli, as the team captain drilled a single to centerfield – which was only a single because she was cut down at second base attempting to transform the hit into a double. Middleton, who was on first at the time, came all the way around to score on the play.
Notre Dame will put its 13-game win streak on the line in a non-conference doubleheader at Purdue on Tuesday, April 12.