April 13, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (32-12) won the second of two games at #18/19 Nebraska (30-12) on Tuesday afternoon to earn its fourth win over a ranked opponent in 2004 and third over the Cornhuskers. The Irish pitching staff shut down Nebraska for the second-straight game, but kept the home team off the scoreboard this time as well. Notre Dame, on the other hand, scored two runs in the sixth inning off two Husker errors to win the game.
Steffany Stenglein picked up the win for Notre Dame, going 5.1 innings, giving up four hits, walking four and striking out two. Carrie Wisen earned her first save of the year for Notre Dame, finishing off the final 1.2 innings and getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the sixth.
The Irish return to campus on Tuesday evening and will face Illinois-Chicago for one game at Ivy Field on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Notre Dame’s first inning was strikingly similar to their first at bat from Monday against Nebraska. With two outs, Megan Ciolli singled to the hole on the right side, but Meagan Ruthrauff grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
After a scoreless inning for Nebraska in the first, Notre Dame went in order in the top of the second – but each out came on a well-hit ball. Mallorie Lenn lined out to leftfield, Liz Hartmann lined out to second base (a leaping catch by NU’s Anne Steffan) and Nicole Wicks flied out to the warning track in rightfield for the three outs. Perhaps the Irish offense was finally starting to get its timing at the plate.
Stenglein retired three of four in the bottom of the second, allowing a harmless walk to Jocelyn Evans. The Irish bats, however, had not awoke from their slumber just yet in the third inning. Carrisa Jaquish, Sara Schoonaert and Stephanie Brown were put down in order by Tobias.
Fortunately for Notre Dame, Stenglein was pitching strong in the first part of the game. She kept Nebraska off the board in the bottom of the third, allowing just a single to Steffan for NU’s first hit of the game.
Both teams offensive frustrations continued over the next two innings as Tobias and Stenglein matched each other pitch for pitch. Heading into Nebraska’s part of the fifth inning – both teams had just one hit on the scoreboard, with zeros in the runs and errors columns.
The Huskers broke through for a lead off hit in the bottom of the fifth by Evans, but pinch runner Kira Boerkircher was picked off on a 2-1 pitch when Brown snuck in behind her at first base, grabbed a great throw from Lenn and put the tag down for the first out of the inning.
Liz Lawhorn eventually drew a walk on the at bat to bring up Devin Porter. Porter lifted a fly ball down the leftfield line which Nicole deFau got a great jump on and made a diving catch for the second out of the inning. Lawhorn was forced to stay at first on the play. NU’s dangerous Steffan was due and she put down a bunt toward Ruthrauff at first. Ruthrauff turned and tossed it to Brown covering first just a half step ahead of the runner for the third out.
The Irish offense finally broke through in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of two Nebraska defensive errors. Carissa Jaquish led off with a bloop single to leftfield and Schoonaert attempted to move her over with a sacrifice bunt. Jaquish was thrown out at second on the play, however, on a good throw by the Huskers.
With Schoonaert at first base, Brown slapped a ball back to Tobias in the pitching circle. She turned in an attempt to get Schoonaert at third, but threw the ball into centerfield. Schoonaert jumped up toward third, with NU’s Nicole Trimboli backing up the play in centerfield. Her throw was off, however, sailing into the Nebraska third base dugout for an automatic base advancement for the runners. Brown ended up at third on the play, with Schoonaert scoring the first run of the contest for both teams.
DeFau was due for Notre Dame and immediately delivered what was required, a sacrifice fly to leftfield – which allowed Brown to score from third for the second run of the inning.
With two outs, Ciolli and Ruthrauff kept the inning alive with consecutive singles, but Lenn grounded back to Tobias for the third out.
Nebraska immediately rallied in the bottom of the sixth, putting Jessica Yoachim on with a bunt single (on a very close call at first argued by Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf).
The heart of Nebraska’s order followed to represent the tying run. Trimboli flied out to rightfield, but Tannahill posted a single deep into the right side hole. Brown was able to smother the ball, but could not throw to first. Yoachim, on a heads up running play, moved to third to put runners on the corners with one out and NU catcher Jamie Waldecker due up.
Tannahill stole second base, with the Irish not attempting a throw on the play – worrying about the double steal attempt from Yoachim at third.
Waldecker worked the count to 3-2 and drew a walk to load the bases for Peaches James. Needing a ground ball in the infield, the Irish turned to relief pitcher Carrie Wisen.
Wisen got the first out she needed by striking out James on a breaking ball with a 2-2 count. She got the third out by inducing a routine ground ball to third from Evans to escape the inning and preserve the 2-0 Irish lead.
Notre Dame was unable to post any insurance runs in the top of the seventh, as Hartmann, Wicks and Jaquish were retired in order. Nebraska would send up their eighth, ninth and lead off batter in the bottom of the seventh.
The Husker got exactly what they needed to start the seventh, as Lawhorn drew a walk. Pinch hitter Katie Linke was inserted, and she drilled the first pitch back to Wisen in the pitching circle. The best defensive pitcher on the Irish roster, Wisen stabbed the ball out of the air, turned and made a great throw to second base. Schooanert turned the double play easily to put Nebraska down to their last out.
Steffan kept NU alive with yet another bunt hit down the first base line – just beating the throw. Pinch hitter Brittney Yolo stepped in next in an effort to keep Nebraska alive. Wisen struck her out on a breaking ball to end the game and pick up her first save of the year.