March 17, 2002
The University of Notre Dame softball team (8-12) dug itself too deep of a hole against New Mexico in the Kia Klassic on Saturday, eventually falling short with a four-run rally to drop its fourth game of the tournament.
The Irish have battled all season, with seven of their losses coming to higher-ranked opponents and six of those defeats ended up as one-run deficits.
Carrie Wisen got the starting call for Notre Dame against New Mexico, but the Irish freshman righthander had trouble keeping the Lobos off the scoreboard. With two outs in the top of the first, a walk came back to hurt Wisen when Michelle Carter drilled an RBI single to right field and put her team up 1-0.
After Notre Dame failed to score with runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the first, New Mexico added another run in the second inning off a muffed throw by Alexis Madrid (who was covering first base on a bunt attempt).
The Irish threatened again in the bottom of the second after Lisa Mattison led off with an infield hit. Kas Hoag struck out and Madrid singled, but Jenny Kriech flied out and Megan Ciolli popped out to end the inning.
Wisen started to find her groove in the third inning, working a one-two-three set with two groundouts and a fly out. New Mexico’s starting pitcher Amy Dumas matched Wisen in the bottom of the third, retiring the heart of Notre Dame’s order with two pop outs and a line out.
What groove Wisen did have in the third inning left the Irish rookie in the fourth. New Mexico’s top hitter, Kelly Glass, led off with a single up the middle and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Kim Korsak followed by drilling a double down the leftfield line to score Glass. After a Krystal Mieja groundout, Cayley Warner laid down a perfect bunt hit and Korsak moved to third. Sabrina Sandburg then smacked another double to left-centerfield, plating two more runs and the Irish faced a 5-0 hole. Steffany Stenglein came in to relieve Wisen and, after issuing a walk, struck out Carter to end the inning.
Stenglein, who up to the point she entered the game to relieve Wisen against New Mexico had pitched 23.2 innings in the tournament and was seemingly running on empty, responded in a big way for the Irish. The rookie hurler dug deep and struck out seven of the first eight batters she faced and allowed just two base runners (on a walk and a single) the rest of the contest.
Notre Dame tried to get a run back in the fourth. Liz Hartmann led off with a single and Mattison was hit by a pitch, but once again the Irish would strand the runners. Hoag grounded out, pinch-hitter Nicole deFau struck out and Kriech grounded out on a very close play at first base and the Irish came up empty again.
Finally, things started to turn around for the Irish offense in the fifth inning. Ciolli and Loman posted consecutive bunt hits to put two runners on for Jarrah Myers. The senior catcher came through, knocking a double to centerfield to score Ciolli. Loman then came home on Andria Bledsoe’s singled to leftfield and the Irish were back in the game. Hartmann cut into the lead even more, driving in Myers with a fielder’s choice and the New Mexico lead stood at 5-3. New Mexico escaped further damage when Mattison struck out and Hoag grounded out to end the inning.
With Stenglein in complete control, the Irish offense got back to work in the sixth inning. After a Madrid groundout, Kriech ripped a shot off the leg of Dumas for an infield hit. Dumas could not continue and the Lobos brought Lauren McCoy from first base to pitch.
Facing a new pitcher, Ciolli grounded out to move Kriech to second base. Loman followed up with a hard single through the left side and Kriech scrambled around third to cut the Lobo lead to one. After Myers was intentionally walked, Bledsoe lined out hard to third base to end the inning.
The Irish would get one more base runner in the bottom of the seventh with one out when Mattison singled, but Hoag grounded out to the pitcher and Madrid bounced out to third to end the game.
After nine days on the road, Notre Dame will return home next weekend to begin BIG EAST Conference competition against Rutgers on Saturday and Villanova on Sunday.