March 2, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team righted its season record to 6-6 with a 12-7 victory over Northwestern State (1-11) on Sunday afternoon at the Louisiana Classic. The win gives Notre Dame a measure of revenge on the Demons, who surprised the Irish 3-2 in the first game of the tournament. Notre Dame also finishes the tournament 2-2 with ownership of second place, unless McNeese State can knock off the host, Louisiana-Lafayette, later on Sunday. If the Lady Cajuns lose, Notre Dame would claim the tournament title based on the runs scored against Louisiana-Lafayette in the tournament.
Notre Dame jumped all over NW State starting pitcher Amanda Ortega over the first three innings, piling up 11 runs. Mallorie Lenn (two for three, two RBI) and Alexis Madrid (two for two, two runs scored) led the Irish hitters, while Andrea Loman and Liz Hartmann both hit home runs. The Irish pitchers, however, continued to struggle. Starter Steffany Stenglein was one inning away from ending the game on the eight-run rule, but ended up surrendering four runs in the inning to keep the game alive.
The Irish immediately got on the scoreboard in the first inning when Megan Ciolli reached on an throwing error. After Lenn popped out, Loman drilled a two-run home run to left-center field.
The Demons came back to tie the game in the top of the second when Krystle Nichols drew a walk and Katrina Walker followed with her own two-run home run.
The tie was quickly broken up in the bottom of the inning. Liz Hartmann led off with her third home run of the tournament to put the Irish up 3-2. Madrid singled and stole second base to get in scoring position and Ciolli earned a walk. Lenn then came through with a single through the left side and advanced to second on the throw, while Madrid scampered home on an error by the Demon leftfielder. Loman then got her third RBI of the game on a fielder’s choice ground ball which allowed Ciolli to score.
Notre Dame then attempted a double steal and Loman was safe at second, but Lenn was thrown out at the plate. Meagan Ruthrauff fouled out to end the inning.
The Irish offensive explosion continued in the bottom of the third. Andria Bledsoe led off with a single and stole second base. Lisa Mattison then drove her in with a single up the middle. The Notre Dame first basemen advanced to second on a wild pitch and eventually moved to third when Hartmann grounded out to third base. After deFau lined out, Madrid reached first on a bunt hit which kept Mattison at third base.
Ciolli stepped in next and singled through the middle, driving in Mattison and moving Madrid to third. Lenn ended up with a two-RBI single next after Ciolli stole second base. The Notre Dame scoring spree finally ended when Loman walked and eventually scored, along with Lenn, on a fielding error by the Demon shortstop.
NW State got one run back in the fourth inning on an illegal pitch call with the bases loaded, but Notre Dame matched that run total in the bottom of the inning. Sara Schoonaert posted her first career double, driving in deFau who had drawn a walk earlier in the inning.
Needing three outs to end the game, Stenglein ran out of gas. Sarina Noack led off with a single and Lindsey Dansy drove her in with a double. Stenglein then issued two walks to load the bases and Heather Booth came in for relief. She did get a sacrifice fly for the first out, but Shay Hunt made sure the game would continue with a three-run home run.
Both teams remained scoreless the rest of the way. Stenglein picked up the win for Notre Dame, evening her season record at 2-2.
Notre Dame returns home for the week before heading to the to the west coast for Spring Break. The Irish will play a doubleheader at Cal State Northridge on Sunday, March 9, then enter the 2003 Kia Klassic on Thursday, March 13.
GAME NOTES: Notre Dame stole four bases in the game, one each by Megan Ciolli, Andrea Loman, Andria Bledsoe and Alexis Madrid … Loman leads the team with four stolen bases in four attempts this season … Amanda Ortega suffered the loss for NW State, working 2.2 innings, giving up nine hits, 11 runs (seven earned) … Stenglein’s pitching line was 4.0 IP, four hits, six runs (all earned) and five walks … after giving up the home run when she entered the game, Booth settled down to work 3.0 innings, with two hits and one run with a strike out.