Feb. 15, 2004
Box Score The University of Notre Dame softball team (4-1) finished off a great first weekend to the season with a 4-1 victory over Portland State (1-4) on Sunday morning at SL Craig Park in Henderson, Nev. The game marked the end of Notre Dame’s run in the UNLV Classic – where the Irish established themselves as a team to keep an eye on for the upcoming season.
The Irish effort on Sunday was keyed by two towering home runs in the first inning – one on the second pitch of the game by lead off hitter Megan Ciolli (who finished the tournament with a .625 battting average) and another solo shot one batter later by Liz Hartmann (her third home run and seventh RBI of the tournament).
Sophomore Heather Booth turned in a solid pitching performance as well, working a complete-game five-hitter. Booth posted a season and career high nine strikeouts while holding the Vikings without a hit during the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Booth improved to 2-0 on the season, while Portland State’s Christy Hess fell to 0-2.
The Irish started off on the right foot in the game when Ciolli drilled the second pitch she was offered in the bottom of the first deep over the rightfield fence for her first home run of the season. It was also the first career home run surrendered by PSU’s Hess.
After Stephanie Brown lined out to shortstop, Liz Hartmann followed up with another home run – her third of the weekend – to centerfield. Suddenly, the Irish were up 2-0 in the game.
Portland State was able to get back one run in the top of the second off some shaky defense in the Irish outfield. With one out, Erin Stokey doubled to the wall in leftfield to get in scoring position. Rose Rutledge followed with a line drive single to leftfield. Nicole deFau was in position to hold the runner at third, but dropped the ball, allowing Stokey to score easily on the play. In the end, however, the run would have scored because Alayna Peterson followed up with a single to rightfield. Booth escaped further damage in the inning with a strikeout and ground out back to the circle.
The Irish got control back in the game in the bottom of the second. Carissa Jaquish started the inning off with a single to leftfield. After Sara Schoonaert struck out, Ciolli posted her second hit of the game with a single to left-centerfield.
Portland State pulled Hess in favor of Michelle Hext, who struck Stephanie Brown with a pitch to load the bases. Hartmann was due and hit the ball hard, but right at Viking third basemen Annie Peccia – who threw home to get the easy force play on Jaquish. Notre Dame’s clean up hitter came thorough, however, when Meagan Ruthrauff blistered a ground ball – past Peccia at third this time – to drive in two runs and put the Irish ahead 4-1.
Booth would make sure that lead would hold up, walking just one batter over the next four innings before Portland State posted a harmless single in the top of the seventh.
GAME NOTES: Notre Dame was a bit undermanned in the contest, as junior pitcher Carrie Wisen and sophomore catcher Mallorie Lenn were sidelined with the flu … Megan Ciolli capped a stellar weekend with a four-hit performance vs. Portland State, putting up a HR and three singles (she scored two runs in the game) … the four hit performance is the second of Ciolli’s career (vs. Valparaiso in 2002) … Kellie Middleton also put the finishing touches on a break out weekend, in addition to her game-winning HR vs. Hawaii on Friday, Middleton hit .438 in the five games with three doubles and three RBI … the Irish pitching staff also deserves mention for their weekend, as the staff gave up just seven earned runs (1.44 ERA) and struck out 29 batters in 34.0 IP … there will be no BIG EAST Player of the Week announcements until Monday, Feb. 23.