Feb. 28, 2003
After suffering arguably its worst loss of the season earlier in the day, the University of Notre Dame softball team (4-5) rallied back to grab its best victory of the season 8-5 in nine innings at Louisiana-Lafayette (7-2) late Friday evening.
Notre Dame’s home run power turned the tables on the Lady Cajuns, helping the team rally from a 5-1 deficit. Among the numerous stars of the game for the Irish were sophomore Liz Hartmann, who hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh which tied up the game, then hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to end the game. Andria Bledsoe also helped out the rally with two home runs – her first two of the season.
The come-from-behind victory helps the Irish forget their 3-2 loss to Northwestern State earlier in the day.
Both teams were shut down by the starting pitchers for the first four innings. ULL’s Brooke Mitchell did not allow a hit for over the first four, while ND’s Steffany Stenglein matched her output, giving up just a double in the fourth inning.
The action started to pick up in bottom of the fifth. Bledsoe led off with her first home run of the season to put Notre Dame up 1-0.
Unfortunately for Stenglein, Bledsoe’s shot must have woke up the Cajun bats. After a lead off walk to start the sixth inning, Jill Robertson reached on a error by Irish first basemen Lisa Mattison to put runners at first and second. Becky McMurtry followed with a three-run blast to left-center field to erase the Irish lead. Tiffany Grayson then kept the pressure on Stenglein with a solo home run. After Stenglein struck out the next batter, she surrendered her third home run of the inning to Joy Webre. The inning finally ended with a foul out and Notre Dame down 5-1.
It did not take long for Notre Dame to rally. After Ciolli popped up to second base, Mallorie Lenn doubled and scored on a single by Andrea Loman. Loman was thrown out at second base on a controversial play and was eventually ejected from the game. The senior’s passion must have awoken her teammates, however. Meagan Ruthrauff stepped in next and launched a home run to left center. Bledsoe quickly followed with her second home run to straight away center field. The Cajuns lead was down to just one run.
Heather Booth entered the game in relief to start the seventh inning. Robertson reached on a catchers interference call to lead off the inning and stole second, but Booth got two strike outs and a ground out to send Notre Dame to the plate for its final three outs.
Once again, the Irish did not have to wait long to get the tying run. Hartmann led off with a solo shot to left field to tie up the game. Nicole deFau, Alexis Madrid and Ciolli went in order to send the game to extra innings.
Even though the game is in a tournament situation, the international tie breaker rule was not implemented. Booth sat the Cajuns down in order in the eighth, but Mitchell did the same to Lenn, Kellie Middleton and Ruthrauff in the bottom of the inning.
Robertson led off the ninth by drawing a walk and stealing second with two outs, but Booth got a ground out to third to end the top of the inning.
To start Notre Dame’s portion of the ninth, Bledsoe drew a walk. Lisa Mattison then reached on a fielding error and Hartmann followed up with her heroic shot to end the game.
The Irish continue action at the Louisiana Classic against McNeese State at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday followed by a rematch against Louisiana-Lafayette at 6:30 p.m. (all times are central standard).
GAME NOTES: Andria Bledsoe joins eight other Irish players who own the team record for home runs in a game … Liz Hartmann is one of those eight players, as the sophomore hit two home runs against Oakland in 2002 … Meagan Ruthrauff moved to third from designated player when Andrea Loman was ejected … Heather Booth ended up earning the victory, working three hitless innings with three strike outs and a walk … Louisiana-Lafayette ended up leaving six runners on base.