April 20, 2002
Timing is everything in softball. Whether it is hitting, fielding or pitching, the timing of a person’s physical movements is the key to success. Timing is also important for the team as a whole. Just when does everything come together and the team is able to perform at its full potential?
That question was answered for Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf on Saturday. Her team put together its best offensive, defensive and pitching performances of the season in a dominating doubleheader sweep of Virginia Tech (8-0, six innings and 10-0, five innings) to push its record to 27-13 and 11-1 in the BIG EAST. The Hokies are now 29-15 and 5-7.
Notre Dame’s pitcher-catcher battery, Jarrah Myers and Steffany Stenglein provided the highlights of the day. Myers hit career home runs 30, 31 and 32, setting the new career mark at Notre Dame. She also was five for six with six RBI and six runs scored. Stenglein posted a perfect game in the first contest, retiring all 15 batters she faced.
It didn’t take long for the Irish offense to flex its muscles in game one. After Stenglein worked a one-two-three inning, Megan Ciolli laid down a perfect bunt single with one out. Loman then drew a walk to put Ciolli in scoring position for clean up hitter Myers.
Myers looked at two pitches before she sat back on a change up and drilled it over the centerfield wall for a three-run homer. It was the Irish catcher’s 30th career homer, tying her with ’01 graduate Melanie Alkire for the Notre Dame school record.
Andria Bledsoe followed up Myers shot with an impressive home run of her own, smacking another 1-1 pitch deep over the leftfield wall to put the Irish up 4-0.
Virginia Tech starting pitcher Ashley Dobbe recovered quickly, striking out Lisa Mattison and Liz Hartmann to end the inning.
The four-run lead would be all Stenglein would require for the rest of the game. The rookie refused to let a Hokie runner reach base, retiring all 15 batters she faced. She ended up with six strikeouts in the perfecto, and Virginia Tech did not get a ball out of the infield. The no-hitter is the second of her career, as she combined with Carrie Wisen for a no-hitter against Valparaiso on April 2. It is, however, the first solo effort of her career and first perfect game for the Irish since Terri Kobata shut down Butler on April 2, 1995.
Notre Dame would end up stopping the game in the sixth inning after scoring four more runs after the first. Myers second home run of the day, and the new career home run record, came in the bottom of the third on an 0-1 pitch. This time, Myers shot was a line drive over the leftfield wall with the bases empty.
Another Irish run came in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, designated player Carrie Wisen crushed a double into the leftfield gap. Kas Hoag entered the game to run for Wisen and scored four pitches later when Alexis Madrid singled to centerfield.
Needing two runs to end the game in the bottom of the fifth, Notre Dame got one quickly when Loman led off with her seventh home run of the season. Myers stepped in next and lifted a high fly ball to deep rightfield that Tech’s Sarah Prosise misplayed and allowed Myers to advance all the way to third base. Bledsoe grounded out to the pitcher and Mattison singled to centerfield for the game-ending RBI.
Not wanting to mess with a good thing, Gumpf fielded the same exact line up in game two and received a welcome response – Notre Dame’s offense put up some more runs early in the game.
Stenglein worked another easy first inning and Ciolli reached base with one out after being hit by a pitch. Loman followed with a solid double to the wall in centerfield and Ciolli sprinted around second and third to score easily.
It was time for the Jarrah Myers show once again. Hokie starting pitcher Clarisa Crowell looked like she was going to pitch around the Carbondale, Kan., native, throwing three consecutive balls. She grooved the fourth pitch down the middle, though, and Myers sent her third home run of the game, ninth of the season and 32nd of her career back over the leftfield fence.
Given another early lead, Stenglein would keep her concentration and surrender just two hits in four innings of work to pick up her 16th victory of the season. Wisen would end up pitching the fifth inning in relief.
Notre Dame’s lineup would explode for five runs in the bottom of the third to put the game out of reach. Myers led off with a single to leftfield and Mattison doubled to rightfield. Myers eventually scored on Mattison’s hit after Virginia Tech second base Shanel Garofalo dropped the relay throw.
With Mattison on third, Hartmann singled to leftfield for an RBI and Hoag came in to run for her. Wisen then singled to leftfield and was replaced by pinch runner Nicole deFau. After Virginia Tech brought in pitcher Natalie Smith, Madrid moved the runners into scoring position at second and third with a ground out to the shortstop. Hoag soon scampered home on a wild pitch and deFau scored on a Jenny Kriech hit to centerfield that was misplayed. By the time Ciolli grounded out to end the inning, five Irish runs had crossed the plate.
Two more Irish runs were added in the bottom of the fourth. Loman reached on an error and Myers fifth hit of the day put runners at second and third after the Virginia Tech defense attempted to get Loman advancing to third. Bledsoe’s second hit of the day, a single to centerfield, scored Loman and Myers for the final two runs of the game. Notre Dame hopes to carry over the momentum of its doubleheader sweep into Tuesday’s matchup with #4 Nebraska. The Irish and Cornhuskers meet in Lincoln for at 5 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Jarrah Myers two home runs in the first game ties the school record for round-trippers in one game, held by five different players, including Myers herself (vs. Cal State Northridge, 2001) … Myers is now first on the all-time home run list (32), ahead of Melanie Alkire (30), Sara Hayes (26), Andrea Loman (17), Meghan Murray (15) and Kris McCleary (10) … Notre Dame is now 11-1 in BIG EAST play, giving them 22 points for the league standings.