April 25, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team improved its hold on first place in the BIG EAST Conference with a doubleheader sweep (8-5, 4-2) at Rutgers on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Both teams were forced to sit through a prolonged rain delay in game two after battling through a two hour, 35-minute game to begin the day. The Irish improve to 39-13 on the season and 12-0 in the BIG EAST, while Rutgers falls to 23-26, 6-10.
The Irish offense was once again paced by senior Nicole deFau. After piling up four hits in the doubleheader sweep at Villanova on Saturday, deFau came back with five hits against the Scarlet Knights, driving in two runs in the first game while going three for four, then finishing off the day with a two for three performance in game two. Junior Liz Hartmann hit her seventh home run of the season in game one, capping a three for four effort.
Sophomore Heather Booth started game one for the Irish. Although she gave up eight his and four earned runs, she eventually earned her 19th victory of the season and sixth BIG EAST win. She walked two and struck out four in 6.2 innings.
Junior Steffany Stenglein continued her stellar pitching in the second game, going the distance to scatter six hits, allow two runs and strike out nine.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first game, but Rutgers came back to outscore the Irish 7-2 in the next three innings. The Irish tacked on two insurance runs in the top off the seventh on Hartmann’s two run home run. Notre Dame actually scored the winning run in the fifth inning on a throwing error by Rutgers shortstop Maggie Geraldi.
Game two was delayed for an hour and a half in the first inning and the Scarlet Knights game out of the delay to get the first run of the game in the bottom of the third on an infield bloop hit by RU’s Nichole Cruz.
The score remained 1-0 in favor of the home team until the Irish exploded for four runs in the top of the seventh. Hartmann led off with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Kenya Fuemmeler – who was eventually forced out at second base. Now with two outs and Carissa Jaquish at first base, Sara Schoonaert posted an infield hit to put runners at first and second. Stephanie Brown followed with a two-RBI double, advancing to third on the throw home.
DeFau then walked to put two runners on. She was followed up by consecutive RBI singles from Megan Ciolli and Mallorie Lenn to complete the scoring in the inning. The Irish scored all four runs with two outs on the scoreboard.
Megan Antonucci posted an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to represent Rutgers second run in the contest.
Notre Dame returns to non-conference competition on Tuesday, when the Irish play host to DePaul in the annual doubleheader match up between the two Midwest rivals. This year’s games will be at Ivy Field and are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.