May 16, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team (37-16) lost its first game in the NCAA Region VII Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich, on Friday afternoon, 4-1 to the number-one seeded DePaul Blue Demons. The Irish now face an elimination game against Oakland Friday night at 8 p.m. (Oakland eliminated Western Michigan in the first game on Friday).
DePaul’s Lindsay Chouinard ended up as the star of the game, pitching a complete-game six-hitter. She kept Notre Dame’s offense off-balance all day with a steady diet of change ups and drops. The Irish also left nine runners on base in the game, including six in scoring position.
Heather Booth ended up taking the loss for Notre Dame, though the Irish pitcher did throw well. The freshman ended up with four innings pitched, six hits and three earned runs. Carrie Wisen finished off the game with two innings, giving up one hit.
DePaul received top performances from Saskia Roberson (two for two, one home run) and Christina Douglas (one for three, two RBI).
The Blue Demons move on to face the winner of the California – Michigan game currently in progress.
The Irish started off well with a scoring chance in the first. Megan Ciolli laid down a bunt right in front of the plate and reached when DePaul catcher Gina Ramacci overthrew Saskia Roberson at first base. Alexis Madrid moved Ciolli into scoring position with a ground ball. Loman then posted a sure infield hit with a ground ball in the hole at short stop. Both runners moved up one base and into scoring position when Bledsoe grounded out unassisted to first base. Lisa Mattison could not come through with the runners in scoring position, however, as she fouled out to first base.
Heather Booth took the ball once again for Notre Dame, facing perhaps her biggest start of her young career against the first-seeded Blue Demons.
Booth found herself in trouble in the bottom of the first. After retiring Liz Bouck, Sarah Martz reached on a solid single to centerfield and Saskia Roberson drew a walk to put two runners on with one out. DePaul’s pitcher, Lindsay Chounard, lifted a routine fly ball to leftfield for the second out and Sarah Douglas fouled out on a change up to Mattison at first to end the inning.
DePaul threatened once again in the second inning when Katy Kukman reached on a four-pitch walk to begin the inning. Gina Ramacci then tried to move her to second with a bunt. Loman jumped on the offering and looked like she could get pinch runner Lauren Vissen at second base. Loman bobbled the ball, however, and both runners ended up safe on the error. Dana Kenney then moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Christina Douglas followed up by slapping a solid hit into rightfield to score both runners and put the Blue Demons ahead 2-0.
Liz Bouck grounded into a fielder’s choice allowing Notre Dame to get Douglas at second base. Bouck then stole second base to get in scoring position for Martz. Martz drilled a ground ball back to Booth in the circle, who juggled it, then threw to first for the third out of the inning.
The Irish went into the top of the third with the top of their order due, needing to get something on the scoreboard to answer DePaul’s two runs.
Just like in the first inning, Ciolli reached on a throwing error from her bunt. This time, Chouinard overthrew first base allowing Notre Dame’s centerfielder to reach. Madrid moved Ciolli into scoring position with a ground out to first, again, just like the first inning.
Following the first inning pattern, Loman reached on another ground ball to short stop for an infield hit. Bledsoe and Mattison would face the same scenario as the first inning, the question would be whether they would come through this time.
Bledsoe could not make contact, striking out on a change up to get to two outs. Mattison then grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. Just like Notre Dame’s game in the first round against Missouri, the Irish were not coming through with runners in scoring position. Through the first three innings against DePaul, Notre Dame left five runners on, including three runners left in scoring position by ND’s fourth and fifth hitters
Saskia Roberson made life even worse for the Irish, crushing the first pitch of the third inning out of the park for a solo home run. It was Roberson’s second impressive home run of the tournament and the second Booth had given up on the first pitch of an inning.
Chouinard followed with a single up the middle to put more pressure on Booth. Sarah Douglas moved the runner over with a perfect sacrifice bunt. DePaul was suddenly hitting on all cylinders, moving runners along when needed and getting the clutch hits.
Kukman then drew her second walk of the day to put two runners on with just one out. The hit parade continued as Ramacci ripped a single through the left side to load the bases for Dana Kenney.
Notre Dame’s defense came through for Booth to get her out of the inning. Kenney lifted a short fly ball to rightfield. Nicole deFau settled under the ball and made a great throw home, followed by a great tag from catcher Mallorie Lenn, for a double play to end the inning. DeFau’s throw is the second outfield assist for a double play by an Irish outfielder in the tournament, following Ciolli’s throw to third in the first game.
The Irish offense was still unable to do anything with Chouinard’s combination of change ups and outside breaking pitches. Ruthrauff doubled with two outs in the fourth, but was stranded at second when deFau popped out to third base. Notre Dame’s list of runners left on base was now at six, including four in scoring position.
Christina Douglas led off the fourth inning for DePaul and lifted a fly ball down the leftfield line. Hartmann moved in and made a great catch over the fence for the first out of the inning. Booth retired the next two batters on consecutive ground balls.
The top of the fifth brought the top of the Notre Dame order back into play. Would the top of the order finally come through?
The Irish scratched together another scoring chance to get two runners on. After Ciolli struck out and Madrid flied out, Loman reached on a four-pitch walk and Bledsoe found herself at first base on a muffed throw by Roberson. Mattison stepped in with two runners on for the third time in the game.
Mattison battled and battled with Chouinard, fouling off 10 pitches in a 12-pitch at bat before lining a hit to left-centerfield for an RBI single. Loman scored and Bledsoe moved to second on the hit.
Lenn had a nice at bat as well, fouling off several pitches before grounding out to third base to end the inning.
While the Notre Dame offense was still struggling, they were forcing Chouinard to throw several pitches. The DePaul hurler had already reached the 111-pitch mark in the fifth inning.
Roberson led off the inning with her second hit of the game and was subbed out for a pinch runner. Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf went to Carrie Wisen in relief of Booth.
Ashley Parker moved to second on Wisen’s first offering, a wild pitch which skittered through Lenn’s legs. Chouinard’s second hit of the game moved Parker to third, giving the Blue Demons runners on the corners with no outs. Wisen then issued a walk to Sarah Douglas to load the bases.
Kukman sent the first pitch deep into centerfield for a sacrifice fly to give DePaul a 4-1 lead. Sarah Douglas stole second base to move into scoring position for Ramacci.
The Notre Dame defense came through for yet another double play to escape the inning. Ramacci drilled line drive to short stop, which Bledsoe leaped up and snared at the top of her jump. She quickly threw to Loman at third base to get Chouinard for the double play to end the inning.
Yet another Irish runner in scoring position ended up stranded in the top of the sixth. Ruthrauff reached on a one-out walk and pinch runner Sara Schoonaert moved to second on a ground out by deFau. Ciolli grounded out to second base to strand Notre Dame’s ninth runner of the game.
Wisen worked just the second one-two-three inning of the game for Notre Dame in the bottom of the sixth. Notre Dame’s second through fourth hitters were due in the top of the seventh.
Madrid led off the inning with a solid single up the middle, but was forced out at second on a ground out by Loman. Bledsoe followed with solid contact, unfortunately it was right at the DePaul short stop for out number two. Chouinard then struck out Mattison to end the game.