May 10, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (42-11) defeated Purdue (34-23-1) 4-1 in West Lafayette on Tuesday evening as the Irish complete the 2005 regular season. Both Notre Dame and Purdue will turn around to compete in their conference tournaments this weekend, as the Irish will face Villanova on Thursday at 7 p.m. while the Boilermakers take on Northwestern Thursday at 3 p.m. The Irish offense was paced by its lead off hitter, sophomore Stephanie Brown. The rightfielder ended up two for three with a run and RBI in the contest. The big hit of the day for the Irish was a solo home run to lead off the third inning by junior Mallorie Lenn – which proved to be the winning run. Senior Megan Ciolli was two for three for Notre Dame and junior Kellie Middleton provided a big insurance run with an RBI single in the fifth inning.
On the pitching side, junior Heather Booth earned her 20th victory of the year by pitching the final four innings, allowing one hit (a solo home run) and striking out two. Senior Steffany Stenglein started the game and experienced an up and down day over three innings, striking out five and walking five while not allowing a hit.
Next up for the Irish will be the BIG EAST softball awards brunch on Thursday, May 12 at 11 a.m. in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame will then face Villanova as the BIG EAST Championship begins on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Belleville Complex in South Bend.
Notre Dame grabbed a quick lead in the top of the first when sophomore Stephanie Brown led off with a single down the leftfield line. She was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, third on a ground out and scored on wild pitch to put the Irish ahead 1-0.
Stenglein pitched her way around, and through, some self-created trouble in the bottom of the second inning. She struck Tricia Lilley with a pitch, then walked DaQueta Johson to put two runners on with no outs. Purdue’s Staci Falzon attempted to move the runners up with a sacrifice bunt, but popped up her first effort to Mallorie Lenn in catcher’s spot for the first out.
Stenglein then shut the door with a two strikeouts (sandwiched around a walk) and keep the Irish ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard.
Lenn used the momentum from Stenglein’s gutsy pitching in the top of the third, crushing the first pitch she was offered from Purdue’s Brooke Baker for a line drive home run to left-centerfield. The solo shot is the second home run of the season for the Irish catcher.
Stenglein kept Purdue scoreless in the third inning, but continued to struggle with her control – walking two more batters. She escaped the inning unscathed, however, with her fifth strikeout of the game off Johnson. Over the first three innings, Stenglein posted five strikeouts – but also walked five and hit a batter. But, for the Irish, the outcome was acceptable as Purdue still did not have a run or a hit on the board.
The Irish, beginning BIG EAST Championship play on Thursday, planned all along to use both Stenglein and Booth in Tuesday’s game. The control problems might have forced head coach Deanna Gumpf’s hand early – as Booth entered the game in the top of the fourth.
Notre Dame tacked on an insurance run for its pitching staff with two outs in the fifth inning. Junior Sara Schoonaert drew a walk on a solid at bat and she was followed with another walk to Brown. The back-to-back walks chased Baker from the pitcher’s circle for Purdue – who turned to Diana LaRiva to pitch against Kellie Middleton.
Middleton came through with a bit two-out single up the middle, driving in Schoonaert. Brown attempted a late charge for third base and was thrown out on the play, but the runner scored before the out was recorded and the Irish had increased their lead to 3-0.
Purdue’s Andrea Hillsey spoiled the shutout and no-hit bid for Notre Dame in the bottom of the sixth inning with a leadoff home run to leftfield on a 3-1 pitch. The home run was the ninth of the year for Hillsey – a team-high for the Boilermakers.
Booth settled down after the big hit, however, retiring the next three batters to keep the Irish lead at two runs entering the seventh inning.
Notre Dame came back to increase its lead back to three runs in the top of the seventh. With one out, sophomore Gessica Hufnagle (who entered the game at catcher in relief of Lenn in the fifth inning) drilled her first career double off the left-centerfield wall. She scored two batters later when Brown singled up the middle for her first RBI of the game.