April 9, 2002
The University of Notre Dame softball team posted its 10th consecutive victory with a doubleheader sweep of Valparaiso (4-0, 8-0) at Ivy Field on Tuesday afternoon. The Irish improve to 18-12 on the season, while the Crusaders fall to 9-14.
Dominate pitching and hitting was once again the story for Notre Dame in the doubleheader. Freshman pitchers Steffany Stenglein and Carrie Wisen combined for a no-hitter in game one, allowing two baserunners and striking out 10. Wisen picked up the victory by pitching the last four innings.
Junior shortstop Andria Bledsoe turned in the big hit of game one, crushing the first pitch of her second at-bat against Valparaiso starting pitcher Amanda Gilbertson over the centerfield wall for a three-run home run. Prior to Bledsoe’s round tripper, Gilbertson was struck by back-to-back line drives off the bats of Jenny Kriech and Megan Ciolli. She was pulled after giving up Bledsoe’s homer, but the Irish would tack one more run on reliever Brittany Attebery.
With two outs in the same inning, Lisa Mattison bounced a single up the middle and Jessica Sharron came in to pinch run. After Sharron stole second base to get in scoring position, Wisen (who was the designated player at the time) drilled a double to right centerfield to drive in the fourth Irish run of the game.
Those four runs would be all Wisen and Stenglein needed. Stenglein is nursing a pesky groin pull she suffered a few weeks ago, so Wisen finished off the game. The no-hitter is the 29th in school history and seventh of the combined variety. It is the first time the Irish have denied a hit since April 25, of last season (a 1-0 victory over Toledo).
Wisen picked up the ball again in game two and would continue to baffle the Crusader batters. In game two, the freshman righthander surrendered just one hit, while the Irish offense would end the game early by the eight-run rule.
Alexis Madrid started the scoring when she reached on a dropped throw at first base. Madrid soon moved all the way around to third, after stealing second and advancing on an errant throw by the Valparaiso catcher. Kriech followed by grounding out to the pitcher, but Ciolli came through with an infield hit to score Madrid for the first run of the game.
Ciolli moved to second on another stolen base and Jarrah Myers drove her home with a single up the middle.
A couple of Crusader defensive lapses keyed Notre Dame’s six-run fourth inning. Wisen led off with a single through the left side and deFau doubled down the leftfield line to put runners at first and second. Designated player Annie Dell’Aria followed with a single down the rightfield line for two RBIs. Kas Hoag reentered to run for Dell’Aria and reached second base when Crusader shortstop Tana Barnes misplayed a Madrid grounder.
With runners on first and second, Kriech drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases for Ciolli. Ciolli followed with a lsacrifice fly to rightfield moving all three runners up for Bledsoe, who posted another two-RBI hit with a single to rightfield.
Notre Dame’s speed then became an even bigger factor. Bledsoe stole third and Myers drew a walk. Myers soon took off to steal second base and Valpo catcher Monica Rowan made a solid throw to second, but the Crusader infield failed to cover the bag. Bledsoe came home easily on the delayed double steal.
Wisen worked an uneventful fifth inning to end the game and earn her seventh victory of the year.
Notre Dame will face Purdue for one game at 5 p.m. on Thursday as the Irish 13-game home stand continues.
GAME NOTES: A couple minor injuries forced some lineup changes for the Irish on Tuesday … Megan Ciolli played third base for the first time this season, subbing for Andrea Loman … Loman broke the index finger of her right hand against Seton Hall on Sunday, but will return to the lineup against Purdue on Thursday … Ciolli was solid at third base (where she played in high school and travel-team competition), as she perfectly played all six chances hit her way … Liz Hartmann was held out of the doubleheader due to a minor back injury, but the usual Irish rightfielder will be available to play this weekend … Notre Dame ended up with nine stolen bases in the two games … Wisen posted nine shutout innings on the day, giving up just one hit, walking two and striking out 10 … Ciolli was three for six with two RBI in both games and Jenny Kriech was also three for six.