May 8, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team (36-13) got off to the start it was looking for at the 2003 BIG EAST Championship in Salem, Va., on Thursday evening. The number-one seeded Irish exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back, defeated fourth-seeded Seton Hall 9-0 in five innings.
Mallorie Lenn led the Irish offensive effort on Thursday, going two for three with a three-run home run and four total RBI. Megan Ciolli and Meagan Ruthrauff also had two hits for Notre Dame, who piled up 12 team hits in just four innings of offense.
Heather Booth pitched a great four innings to get the win, striking out six and allowing just two hits. Booth would walk one batter in the top of the first, but got a line out to short stop from Seton Hall’s Laura Taylor to end the inning and get the Irish offense into the batter’s box against SHU’s Christina Shanko.
The Irish were able to threaten early and often in the game, when Ciolli led off with a single and Alexis Madrid was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Andrea Loman moved them over with a sacrifice bunt for clean up hitter Andria Bledsoe.
Bledsoe came through with a single through the left side to score both runners. She moved to second on the throw and third on an error by Shanko attempting to stop the throw home. Lisa Mattison then drilled single down the right field line, off the glove of SHU’s Taylor. Bledsoe scored easily on the play and the flood gates opened.
Meagan Ruthrauff followed with another single through the left side to put two more runners on base. Liz Hartmann then bounced into a fielder’s choice to bring up Mallorie Lenn with two runners on. Lenn jumped all over a Shanko outside pitch and drilled it over the rightfield fence to plate the sixth Irish run of the inning.
Notre Dame was not done yet, as Nicole deFau singled, stole second and scored on Ciolli’s second single of the inning. The Irish ended up with seven runs on seven hits in the bottom of the first.
Booth did her job in the next inning, sitting down SHU on two strike outs and a ground out to put Notre Dame right back on offense.
And the hits kept rolling in the bottom of the second. Loman led off with a single up the middle and Bledsoe walked to put two runners on base. Mattison followed with a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. Ruthrauff then posted her second single of the game, this one of the RBI variety, to put the Irish up 8-0. After Hartmann popped up, Lenn looked like she hit her second three-run home run of the game, this time down the left field line. The umpire called the ball foul, however, though it did appear to cross directly above the foul pole. Lenn refocused and drilled the next pitch through the left side for yet another Irish RBI single, this one scoring Mattison from second. deFau grounded out to end the inning.
Notre Dame did not score any runs in the bottom of the third, but Loman did reach on a fielder’s choice. She would eventually steal second on a 2-2 pitch, posting her 59th career stolen base. That breaks Katie Marten’s career mark of 58 from 1994-97. Loman now has 17 stolen bases on the season, four off of Marten’s season mark from 1996. Loman, who was named the 2003 BIG EAST Player of the Year earlier in the day, now owns the school records for career walks, runs scored and stolen bases.
Booth continued to work strong innings for the Irish, not allowing any serious scoring opportunities for the Pirates. Booth’s change up was working perfectly on Thursday, keeping Seton Hall off balance all evening. She left the game after four innings, two hits, six strike outs and only one walk.
Steffany Stenglein came in for the fifth inning and had two strike outs and a pop up to end the game.
Third-seeded Villanova defeated second-seeded Boston College 7-1 in the tournament opener on Thursday. Notre Dame and Villanova will meet tomorrow at 3 p.m., before Boston College and Seton Hall lock up in the first elimination game of the tournament at 5 p.m.