March 24, 2005
It was not the prettiest of home opener victories, but it ended up as the 14th victory of the season for the University of Notre Dame softball team (14-8). Down to their last two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the Irish rallied on a single, two-base error and two-RBI double by senior Carrie Wisen to defeat Western Michigan (5-13) 2-1 at Ivy Field on Thursday afternoon.
Notre Dame’s sudden rally ruined a great game pitched by WMU’s Tricia Vanderslik, who held the Irish to just two hits before the bottom of the seventh and had retired 10 consecutive batters until freshman Katie Laing’s one-out single in the seventh.
Western Michigan led most of the game after scoring a single run in the top of the third. Amy Fleming led off with a double to rightfield, advanced to third on an illegal pitch by Irish righthander Steffany Stenglein and scored on single through the right side by Connie Kolokithas.
The Irish offense was stagnant for most of the contest. The only two hits over the first six innings were a single by Kellie Middleton in the first and an infield single by Megan Ciolli in the third inning.
Vanderslik walked out to the mound to start the seventh in total control, keeping the Irish off balance with inside pitches and a dependable curve ball. She retired Meagan Ruthrauff on a ground ball back into the pitcher’s circle, but Laing adjusted nicely to Vanderslik’s curve ball and posted a one-out single to rightfield.
Liz Hartmann, the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, was due next. She hit a ground ball up the middle which WMU shortstop Danielle Daughtry fumbled. Daughtry had two options on the play, step on second for the force play or throw to first, but the ball skipped away into centerfield. Laing advanced to third on the play and Hartmann ended up at third on the two-base fielding error.
Pinch runner Nicole Wicks stepped in for Hartmann, but she was barley needed when Wisen drilled a line drive double down the leftfield line. The ball landed directly on the chalk line and ended up in the corner. Both runners scored easily on the play and, in two pitches, Vanderslik went from a possible shutout victory to her eighth loss of the season.
Heather Booth, who entered the game in the fourth inning after Stenglein has some minor problems, picked up the victory to move to 9-4 on the season. She pitched four innings, giving up two hits, walking two and striking out four. Stenglein struck out four and allowed three hits in 3.0 innings of action.
Notre Dame will be back in action on Wednesday, April 30, with a doubleheader at Ivy Field against Valparaiso.