March 15, 2002

The University of Notre Dame softball team finally got a win on the board at the 2002 Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif., on Friday with a big hit from sophomore Nicole deFau. DeFau’s first career home run in the bottom of the fourth propelled the Irish (8-10) to a 2-1 victory over Texas Tech (10-18) to complete pool play.

Notre Dame finished third in its pool (A) behind #2 Arizona and Cal State Northridge. Next up for the Irish will be Fresno State (second place in the “D” pool) at 11 a.m. (1 p.m. EST) on Saturday to begin championship play in the tournament.

After being shut out by both Arizona and Northridge on Thursday, the Notre Dame offense finally got on the board in the bottom of the third inning against Texas Tech. Alexis Madrid led off with a solid single to leftfield and was moved to second by a sacrifice bunt from Jenny Kriech. Megan Ciolli followed with a ground out to the pitcher and Madrid moved to third with two outs.

Texas Tech pitched around Notre Dame’s top hitter this season, junior third base Andrea Loman, to get to Jarrah Myers. Myers drilled a pitch up the middle for a single, breaking out of a slump the Irish cleanup hitter had been mired in throughout Notre Dame’s Spring Break trip. Madrid easily scored on the play to put the Irish up 1-0.

Red Raider starting pitcher Jennifer Vaught got out of the inning when Andria Bledsoe grounded out hard to third base.

Steffany Stenglein got the call in the circle for the Irish once again on Friday, and the freshman righthander responded with another solid performance. Stenglein would post her fifth complete game of the season, going seven innings, striking out eight, walking just one and giving up three hits. She is now 7-7 on the season.

Looking to continue the momentum from Notre Dame’s run in the third inning, Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf went to her bench for pinch hitter Nicole deFau. DeFau has not seen a lot of playing time for the Irish in her career, but she responded to the call in a big way this time. After looking at two pitches, deFau smacked a solo home run well over the leftfield fence for her first career home run and just the sixth overall hit in her year and a half with the team.

DeFau’s big hit would wind up as the game winner. Texas Tech’s Rebecca Eimen, a former Irish player who transferred to the Lobbock, Texas, school two years ago, hit a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning to cut the Irish lead in half. The Red Raiders would now draw any closer, however, as they would manage just one base runner after Eimen’s hit.

NOTES: Jarrah Myers and Alexis Madrid both snapped out of their respective slumps with two hit performances against Texas Tech … Andrea Loman was spectacular at third once again on Friday, logging six assists including two fine throws to second base twice in a row when Texas Tech was attempting to move a runner over with a bunt … Steffany Stenglein now has 18 strikeouts in her last 14 innings pitched … Liz Hartmann was robbed of an RBI in the sixth when Jarrah Myers was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second after a solid throw from Red Raider leftfielder Eva Harshman.