March 7, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (7-7) will enter this week’s Hawai’I Spring Fling Tournament with a .500 record after defeating UC Santa Barbara (8-7) 1-0 Monday afternoon on the Gaucho’s home field. The Irish continued to struggle offensively, but junior Sara Schoonaert provided a timely hit and classmate Heather Booth pitched another solid game to push their team to victory. Notre Dame will travel to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu on Tuesday to take part in the Spring Fling, which begins with a doubleheader vs. Campbell and Hawai’i on Wednesday.
Kellie Middleton served as the catalyst for the Irish offense on Monday, reaching base three times, stealing two bases and scoring the game’s only run. She reached home plate in the fifth inning when Schoonaert doubled down the leftfield line for her third RBI of the season.
Booth improved to 5-2 on the season, pitching out of two jams in the fifth and sixth inning. She earned her second shutout of the season with the complete-game victory, scattering six hits, striking out six and walking two batters.
UCSB’s Jennifer Davis kept the Irish bats quiet during the beautiful afternoon in Santa Barbara, allowing just four hits and striking out six.
Mallorie Lenn had the only other hit for Notre Dame in the game.
The game quickly turned into a pitchers duel between Booth and Davis. Both teams were able to post just one runner at second base over the first four innings. In fact, Davis was hurling a no-hitter for the Gauchos before junior Kellie Middleton broke it up with a bunt single in the top of the fifth.
Middleton quickly stole second base and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Carrie Wisen – giving Katie Laing and Schoonaert a chance to drive in the go-ahead run. Laing failed in her chance, striking out on a 2-2 pitch. Schoonaert came through, however, belting the first pitch she was offered deep down the leftfield line for a double (missing a home run by five feet). Middleton scored easily on the play to put the Irish up 1-0 and getting the team’s hottest hitter, Megan Ciolli, into the batter’s box.
After fouling off two pitches and working the count to 2-2, Ciolli was called out on strikes on a very questionable pitch judged to just catch the “outside” corner.
Now, it would be up to Booth to keep the Irish momentum alive after getting the go-ahead run. She found herself in trouble in the bottom of the fifth with runners on first and second after two consecutive one-out singles, but she induced a ground ball to second base from UCSB’s Brittany Putich on the first pitch to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Gauchos came back with another two-out scoring opportunity in the bottom of the sixth. With one runner on and one out on the scoreboard, Davis singled to leftfield off the glove of ND’s Liz Hartmann. Booth came back to get a strikeout on a big 3-2 pitch, but struck Danielle Myers with a pitch to load the bases for Karyna Wilkerson.
Wilkerson grounded out routinely to shortstop to end the inning and keep the Irish ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard.
UCSB did not threaten in the bottom of the seventh and the Irish walked away with a much-needed 1-0 victory and a bit of momentum entering the upcoming tournament in Hawaii.
NOTES: Mallorie Lenn started her third game of the year at catcher for the Irish, while Carrie Wisen made her third start at designated player … Lenn picked off the Gaucho’s Danielle Myers in the bottom of the second inning after Booth had issued a walk, ending the inning for the Irish instead of the team facing a runners on first and second scenario … the UCSB Softball Field was packed with students on Monday, but it was a somewhat subdued crowd … attendance at the game was mandatory for those enrolled in a class at UCSB called “Sports Appreciation” … the crowd left en masse before the bottom of the seventh – with the home team trailing on the scoreboard.