March 30, 2002
The University of Notre Dame softball team must have been anxious to get back on the field. After a tough loss to New Mexico more two weeks ago and three straight doubleheaders called off due to inclement weather, the Irish got back on the winning track with a doubleheader sweep of BIG EAST Conference opponent Pittsburgh (10-16) on Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame is now 10-12 on the season after the 13-1 and 9-2 decisive victories over the Panthers.
By the time the doubleheader was completed, Notre Dame had sent six home runs by five different sluggers over the outfield fence.
The Notre Dame offensive star of the day was senior catcher Jarrah Myers. The Panther pitchers were simply unable to get Myers out, as she finished five for six in the two games with four runs scored, two home runs and five RBI. Other impressive offensive numbers were posted by Lisa Mattison (four for six, two runs, one home run, one RBI) and Andria Bledsoe (three for seven, one home run, four RBI) in the two victories.
After two scoreless innings to begin game one, Mattison led off the top of the third with a rocket single down the leftfield line. After Kas Hoag came in to run for Mattison, Nicole deFau moved her over to second base with a sacrifice bunt. Alexis Madrid followed by grounding out to the pitcher, but Jenny Kriech only needed three pitches before she drilled a two-run homer far over the rightfield fence to put the Irish ahead to stay.
Pittsburgh starting pitcher Nikki Gasti got out of the inning when Megan Ciolli flied out to deep centerfield.
Gasti’s pitching opponent in the first game was Steffany Stenglein. The Irish rookie worked a perfect third inning to get the Irish offense back to work as quickly as possible. Andrea Loman led off the fourth inning by dribbling a ground ball back to the pitcher. Myers stepped in and it appeared at first that the Panther ploy was to pitcher around the All-America catcher. After looking at three straight balls, Myers fouled off a pitch and then posted Notre Dame’s second home run of the game with a opposite field solo shot. Bledsoe followed up with a great at bat, looking at 11 pitches before striking out. Gasti ended up with two consecutive strikeouts when Liz Hartmann was sat down on three straight offerings.
The Panther were able to get one run on the scoreboard with two consecutive hits to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, but that lone score was all Stenglein would allow in game one.
The Irish offense came calling again in the sixth inning to put the game well out of reach. Megan Ciolli led off with a single, followed by a Loman double that would have scored Ciolli but the freshman outfielder stumbled between second and third. With Myers holding a bat again, the Panthers pitched her cautiously. After three straight balls to begin the at bat, Myers took two called strikes before lining a single to centerfield to knock in both Ciolli and Loman.
Bledsoe flied out next, but after that first out the Irish bats really came alive. The parade started with a Hartmann walk, then continued with a Mattison walk, a deFau single, an Annie Dell’Aria pinch-hit single, a Kriech single, a Ciolli single, a Chantal DeAlcuaz pinch-hit walk and a Bledsoe single.
When the inning finally ended, nine Irish runners had crossed home plate off eight hits and two Panther errors.
Jessica Sharron pitched a scoreless sixth inning to end the game via softball’s mercy rule (more than an eight-run advantage after five innings) and provide Stenglein her eighth victory of the season (8-8).
Stenglein returned to start game two, but the Panthers would end up touching her for two early runs in the bottom of the first. After a one-out walk, Kelly Hulpa drilled the second pitch she saw over the leftfield fence to put the home team ahead 2-0.
That lead would not last long. Bledsoe led off the second inning with another Irish home run to leftfield on a 3-2 pitch.
Stenglein made sure the deficit was just one run by working a one-two-three second inning and the Irish offense came back hot again in the third inning. Madrid led off with a single and, after a Kriech pop out, Ciolli reached base on a throwing error by Gasti (who also started the second game). With two runners on, the Panthers had no choice but to pitch to Notre Dame’s top hitter this season and Loman made them pay, taking a 3-2 pitch over the rightfield wall for Notre Dame’s fifth home run of the day.
The Irish fans in attendance would not have to wait long for the sixth Notre Dame round tripper. Myers was in the batter’s box once again and absolutely drilled a 2-1 rise ball over the left-centerfield wall for her second home run of the day. It was an impressive line-drive home run that put the game in Notre Dame’s hands for good.
Carrie Wisen entered the game to pitch in the third inning and, after working her way out of a first and second situation with no outs, settled down to post five scoreless innings to pick up the victory.
Notre Dame would not be done scoring the game, however. Two Irish runs crossed the plate off three straight Panther errors in the fifth inning, and Myers picked up another RBI with a single in the fifth.
The Irish will not have to wait long for their next opportunity to play, as they are scheduled for a doubleheader at Loyola-Chicago on Monday, April 1, at 1 p.m.