April 15, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (32-12) returns home from a road trip at Nebraska earlier this week for a one game match up with Illinois-Chicago (19-18) at Ivy Field on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Irish are coming off a two-game split at #18/19 Nebraska on Monday and Tuesday, April 12 and 13, in Lincoln. The Huskers won game one 1-0 behind a one-hit performance by starting pitcher Peaches James, but Notre Dame rebounded to take game two 2-0 and earn its third victory over a ranked Nebraska team this season.
Notre Dame – UIC series history:
The Irish and Flames will be meeting for the 24th time on Thursday, with Notre Dame leading the all-time series 16-7 … the teams have met each season since 1999 … UIC has traditionally had one of the strongest teams in the Midwest, and the Irish and Flames were once in the Mid Continent Conference together (now called the Horizon League) … UIC has made seven NCAA regional appearances and qualified for the College World Series in 1994 … Notre Dame has won the last six meetings in the series, including a 3-2 win at UIC last season (April 24) … this is the first of a home-and-home series this season, as the Irish will make a trip to UIC next week Thursday for a 6 p.m. game … Notre Dame is 5-0 at Ivy Field vs. UIC.
UIC team analysis:
The Flames are 19-18 in 2004 and 5-0 in the Horizon League … they carry a season-high eight-game win streak into Thursday’s match up with Notre Dame … UIC has hit .305 as a team in the last eight games while the squad is averaging 6.6 runs per game … Cameron Astiasazaran is the catalyst for the offense, hitting .421 this season with five home runs, 25 RBI and five stolen bases … she has 16 doubles this year as well … Amanda Rivera is a difficult out in the line up as well for the Flames, hitting .345 in ’04 with a team-high 10 home runs and 31 RBI … Notre Dame should see Brittany McIntyre in the pitching circle, she is 7-6 this season with a 2.42 ERA and 48 Ks in 81.0 IP … UIC has two wins over ranked opponents this season, defeating #10 Stanford 3-2 on March 21 and posting a win over #25 Texas State 10-2 on Feb. 21 … UIC’s eight-game win streak includes wins over Bradley (twice), Wisconsin (in 10 innings), Loyola (three times) and Butler (twice).
A quick look back at the Nebraska series:
The Irish traveled to Lincoln, Neb., for a two-game match up with the Cornhuskers on Monday and Tuesday. In a pitching-dominated series of games, the Irish dropped game one 1-0 to the Huskers, but recovered to take game two 2-0 behind great pitching from Steffany Stenglein and Carrie Wisen.
Heather Booth was equally impressive in game one, but two of her mental errors cost her the victory. She hit Anne Steffan with the first pitch of the game and the speedy Nebraska lead off hitter stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch. That would constitute both team’s scoring opportunities for the rest of the game. Peaches James held the Irish to just one hit, while Booth limited the Huskers to two infield hits. In fact, the Irish did post five fly ball outs – while Nebraska failed to hit a single ball out of the infield.
Game two was following much the same pattern as game one until Notre Dame took advantage of two consecutive Nebraska errors to score two runs in the sixth inning. With Sara Schoonaert on second base, Heather Brown slapped a hit back to Summer Tobias in the pitching circle. Tobias attempted to force out Schoonaert at first, but her throw ended up in centerfield. Schoonaert took off for third base and Nebraska’s effort to throw her out landed in the Cornhusker dugout, automatically advancing Schoonaert home and Brown to third. Nicole deFau then drove in Brown with a sacrifice fly.
Stenglein found herself in a one out, bases loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth, but Carrie Wisen entered the game and got out of the situation with a strike out and pop up. The Irish also turned a 1-6-3 double play in the seventh to snuff out any hope of a Nebraska comeback.
The last 10 games:
Notre Dame has compiled an 8-2 record over the last 10 games to improve its season record to 32-12 – here is a look at some of Notre Dame’s hottest hitters and pitcher over that stretch:
Nicole Wicks is 9-22 (.409) in the last 10 games with three triples, six RBI and three stolen bases. Wicks was named the BIG EAST co-Player of the Week on Monday, April 12, for the first time in her career.
Stephanie Brown has been the top RBI producer over the last 10 games with 11 to go along with a .379 average (11-29), two home runs and one double.
Meagan Ruthrauff has driven in 10 runs in the last 10 games while batting .333 and hitting two home runs.
Both Steffany Stenglein and Heather Booth are 4-1 in their last five starts and have surrendered just 12 runs and 37 hits to Notre Dame’s opponents in the last 10 games. Stenglein’s ERA is 0.95 in her last five starts and she has 25 strike outs.