April 6, 2002
In another game dominated by cold temperatures and the occasional snow flurry, the University of Notre Dame softball team (14-12) crept closer to the goal it has been working toward all season. Combine solid pitching with timely hitting and the team becomes difficult to beat. The Irish followed that plan perfectly in its doubleheader sweep of St. John’s on Saturday, coasting to a 4-0 victory in game one and a 8-0 win in game two. Notre Dame is now 4-0 in BIG EAST Conference competition this season.
The Irish are on a season-high six game win streak and most of the news has been provided by the offense. Notre Dame has posted double-digit hits in six of its last seven games after today’s 10-hit game two, but the big story from the Red Storm sweep was the Irish pitching staff performance.
Steffany Stenglein, who started both games, Carrie Wisen and Jessica Sharron combined to allow just five St. John’s hits over the two games and no runs across the plate. A Red Storm runner ended up reaching third just twice in the doubleheader, in the fifth and seventh innings of game two.
Stenglein started game two and missed out on a possible no-hitter when Nicole deFau lost a high fly ball in the sun during the first inning of game two. The ball dropped for a hit, and it would be the only base knock Stenglein would allow in the contest.
Offensive standouts for Notre Dame included Jarrah Myers, who rocketed a three-run home run off the scoreboard in leftfield to propel the Irish to a game-one victory, and Andria Bledsoe, who capped a three for four performance in game two with a two-run single in the top of the seventh.
Notre Dame’s first run in the opener occurred in the top of the second inning. After Andria Bledsoe drew a lead off walk, Lisa Mattison had a great at-bat, fouling off numerous pitches before sending Red Storm starting pitcher Meghan Allman’s 11th pitch through the left side for a single. Liz Hartmann moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt and deFau followed with an RBI ground out to put her team up 1-0.
After Stenglein worked a quick one-two-three inning in the bottom of the second, the Irish offense came calling once again. Jenny Kriech led off with a hit, but Megan Ciolli’s sacrifice bunt attempt was left too close to home plate. The Red Storm catcher quickly picked up the ball and threw Kriech out at second base for the force play.
Ciolli immediately stole second base to get in scoring position for Andrea Loman. Allman ended up pitching around Loman, issuing a five-pitch walk to the junior third base. Myers stepped in and, after looking at two balls out of the strike zone, tattooed a change-up that easily cleared the leftfield fence and banged off the Red Storm Field scoreboard. Myers homer will go down in history, as it is the first round tripper hit by a St. John’s opponent at their new facility and just the fourth ball ever hit out of the park.
Stenglein worked another solid inning in the third and the Irish turned to Carrie Wisen to pitch the last four innings. The freshman responded, keeping the Red Storm offense off balance with her own changeup, shutting out St. John’s over the last four innings to earn the victory.
Game two shifted into Notre Dame’s control quickly, as the Irish posted four runs in the top of the first. With one out, Ciolli bunted her way on and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Loman and Myers drew walks to load the bases, Bledsoe grounded into a fielder’s choice and Ciolli was thrown out at the plate.
Allman, who started game two for the Red Storm, was struggling with her control and walked Mattison to force in Loman. Hartmann followed with the big hit, drilling a pitch down the leftfield line to score Myers and Bledsoe. Mattison would eventually score on a wild pitch for the fourth run of the inning.
Take away the sun-aided hit in the top of the first and the Red Storm offense had no answer for Stenglein in game two. When the Irish righthander exited the game in the sixth, she had posted nine strikeouts and just three walks.
The Irish would add one insurance run on and Annie Dell’Aria pinch-hit double in the sixth, followed by a Kriech RBI single. Three more runs were tacked on in the top of the seventh when Bledsoe posted a two-RBI single and Mattison an RBI double.
Jessica Sharron entered the pitching circle of finish what Stenglein stared and gave up two hits in the bottom of the seventh with one out, but the junior righthander recovered to get two consecutive groundouts to end the game.
Notre Dame continues their BIG EAST Conference road trip on Sunday, April 7, at Seton Hall (11 a.m.).