April 18, 2002
After building a four-run lead, the University of Notre Dame softball team (25-13) let Bowling Green back into the game, eventually falling behind by one run before rallying in the bottom of the sixth to down the visiting Falcons (14-21) 8-5 at Ivy Field on Thursday evening. Freshman outfielder Megan Ciolli’s three-run triple keyed the Irish rally in the sixth, capping a two for three day by the rookie outfielder.
Notre Dame scored an early run off Falcon starting pitcher Andrea Genter in the bottom of the first. Ciolli reached on a perfect bunt single and advanced to second on a muffed pick-off throw by the second basemen. Andrea Loman followed by reaching on another error, this time it was the first basemen dropping the throw and Ciolli advanced all the way to third base. After Jarrah Myers drew a walk, Andria Bledsoe grounded out to second base to drive in Ciolli with the first run of the game.
Irish starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein kept the Bowling Green offense off the scoreboard until the Notre Dame offense came calling again in the bottom of the third.
Loman reached base on a single up the middle to start the two-out rally in the third. Myers then lifted a pop single to rightfield, which bounced in front of BGSU’s Renee Rosemeier. Loman took off on contact and scored easily on the play, while Myers moved to second base on the throw home.
Bledsoe drove in the second run on the inning with a single through the right side, enabling Myers to score with a great slide at home plate. After Lisa Mattison drew a walk to put runners at first and second, Bledsoe stole her eighth base of the season to get to third for Liz Hartmann.
Hartmann has been a clutch hitter for the Irish all season. While the rookie outfielder does not boast a eye-popping batting average, she might be the one batter in the lineup that opposing teams should fear with two outs (she is hitting .419 with runners in scoring position this season). She came through again against Bowling Green, drilling a single to rightfield to score Bledsoe for the third run of the inning and fourth Irish run of the game.
Notre Dame had its four-run lead on the board, but Bowling Green rallied in two small bites before a big hit in the top of the sixth.
The Falcons got one run back in the fourth, as Natalie Phillips doubled with one out and advanced to third on a wild pitch. She eventually scored when Crystal Wilson singled to centerfield.
Bowling Green drew closer in the fifth with a two-out rally. Marla Murphy walked on four pitches and Kandice Machain doubled past a diving Kriech in centerfield to score Murphy all the way from first base.
Genter shut down the middle of the Irish lineup in Notre Dame’s half of the fifth inning, retiring Loman, Myers and Bledsoe in order. The Falcons came back on offense with all the momentum in the top of the sixth.
With one out, Crystal Wilson reached on an infield hit and Sara Edwards entered to pinch run. Inserting the runner ended up as a great move for Bowling Green, as Holly Frantz doubled past Kriech again to score the runner from first base.
Carrie Wisen took over the pitching duties for the Irish at that point and worked the count to 1-2 against BGSU’s Jennifer Kernahan. Wisen’s 1-2 pitch ended up catching a bit too much of the strike zone, and Kernahan drilled it over the left centerfield wall for a two-run home run to give her team the lead for the first time.
Wisen would give up another hit and the Falcons moved the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. The Irish escaped further damage when Machain grounded out to second base to end the inning.
Needing to rally in the bottom of the sixth, the Irish offense stepped up with some great execution. Mattison led off the inning with an infield single, beating out the throw from Bowling Green’s second base Murphy, who was deep in the hole up the middle.
Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf inserted Kas Hoag to pinch-run, as Mattison is still nursing a slightly sprained ankle. Hartmann was then called upon to lay down a sacrifice bunt and the Falcon defense decided to try to get Hoag at second base. The Irish senior co-captain out-hustled the throw, sliding in ahead of the tag and putting runners on first and second with no outs.
Nicole deFau laid down another sacrifice bunt, a perfect effort back to the pitcher. The Bowling Green defense went to first this time, getting deFau by a step as the runners moved up.
With the tying run at third, Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf turned to Annie Dell’Aria to pinch hit. Dell’Aria eventually drew a walk to load the bases for lead off hitter Jenny Kriech.
Similar to Hartmann, Kriech is one of the best clutch hitters on the team and showed her prowess once again, smacking a solid single to rightfield to drive in the tying run. Ciolli’s triple to the left centerfield gap followed, clearing the bases and providing the Irish with their three-run winning margin.
Notre Dame committed a fielding error in the top of the seventh, but Wisen worked an otherwise quiet inning to get her 11th victory of the season.
The Irish return to BIG EAST action this weekend, as they host Virginia Tech at 11 a.m. on Saturday.