Feb. 16, 2003
The University of Notre Dame softball team (2-2) split a pair of games at the USF/Wilson Tournament in Tampa, Fla., for the second day in a row. The Irish won the first game of the day, 2-1, over Jacksonville but was overwhelmed by Hofstra 7-4 in the second.
Meagan Ruthrauff continued her hot hitting in game one, posting her fifth RBI in two games with a double to provide Notre Dame the winning margin. In the second game, Kellie Middleton was the lone offensive star for Notre Dame, hitting her first career home run. Heather Booth pitched well for Notre Dame in game one, working 4.2 innings with eight strikeouts to get her second victory in as many days.
Carrie Wisen got the call for Notre Dame in game one against Jacksonville. The Dolphins would threaten in the first inning after drawing a one-out walk with the runner moving to second on a ground ball back to the pitcher. Janine Palumbo came through with a single to right field to put runners on the corners, but Wisen induced a routine ground ball at second base to end the inning.
Notre Dame’s first scoring threat came in the bottom of the second. With two outs, Meagan Ruthrauff continued her hot hitting by driving a single through the middle of the Dolphin defense. She moved to second on a wild pitch and was joined on base by Mallorie Lenn, who drew a three-pitch walk. Liz Hartmann stepped in next for the Irish and lifted a deep fly ball to the warning track (kept in the park by a strong wind) to end the inning.
Jacksonville attempted to get on the scoreboard in the top of the third after two consecutive one-out walks issued by Wisen. Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf immediately went to Heather Booth in relief, and the freshman came through with a strikeout and foul out to escape the inning.
Booth would need her escape-artist abilities again in the fourth. After getting a strike out to begin the inning, Booth issued two walks, followed by a pop up to get two outs. Jackonsville’s Dianna Korcak then blooped a singled to centerfield to load the bases. Booth came back to strike out Monica McGee on four pitches to end the inning.
With all the Jacksonville scoring chances, Notre Dame finally received their opportunity in the bottom of the fourth. Loman led off with a single through the middle and immediately stole second base. After Lisa Mattison flied out to centerfield, Ruthrauff drilled a double off the left field wall to drive in Loman. Ruthrauff moved to third on a passed ball and eventually scored on a Mallorie Lenn sacrifice fly to give Notre Dame a 2-0 advantage going into the fifth inning.
Jacksonville refused to go away quietly. A lead off single followed by another walk put runners at first and second. Sonja Cadarette followed with a single to centerfield to drive in the first Dolphin run of the game. Booth would get a strikeout, but walk the next batter to load the bases for JU’s Ronda Campo. Notre Dame got one step away from escaping further damage when Campo popped up to first base. Heather ‘The Battler’ Booth then struck out Melissa Coburn to end the inning.
As eventful as the first five innings were, the last two innings ended up quiet on offense for both teams. Booth worked perfect one-two-three innings in the sixth and seventh, while Notre Dame would notch just one hit over the same span. The Dolphins would end up stranding 11 runners on base in the game, as Booth picked up her second victory of the tournament.
The first inning of game two against Hofstra ended up as a nightmare for Irish starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein (0-1). The first runner reached on an error at third base and Stenglein issued two consecutive walks to load the bases. Hofstra’s Amanda Hallaway followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Pride up one run. After a wild pitch, HU’s Meaghan Almon drilled a triple down the right field line to drive in two runs and put Notre Dame down three runs in the first inning.
After Notre Dame quickly went down one-two-three in the top of the second, Hofstra came back to plate three more runs off of Stenglein in the bottom of the inning. A lead off walk started the scoring spree, followed by a sacrifice bunt misplayed by Notre Dame, a single and two consecutive singles with the bases loaded.
Notre Dame’s first scoring chance came in the top of the third. Hofstra starting pitcher Andrienne Clark walked Lenn and deFau to put two runners on with no outs. Ciolli then drilled a ball toward centerfield, but the Pride’s Jessica Luna had her played perfectly and stabbed the shot for a line out. Madrid moved both runners into scoring position with a ground out to first base, but Bledsoe bounced back to the pitcher to end the inning and spoil the chance for ND to get back in the game.
The Irish finally scratched across a run in the top of the fifth. Lenn drew a walk and deFau followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Ciolli ground out to move both runners into scoring position and Lenn scored on a passed ball. Pinch-hitter Carrie Wisen lined out to left field to end the inning.
Hofstra came right back to get a run in the bottom of the inning. A misplayed ball in the outfield by Notre Dame allowed an out to turn into a double, driving in a run to put Hofstra up 7-1.
Heading into the top of the sixth, Notre Dame was down to its last six outs. Bledsoe led off and drilled a single off Hofstra reliever Alexis Alcantara to force another pitching change. Loman dribbled into a fielder’s choice next, but Mattison came through with a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. After Ruthrauff popped out to the pitcher, Middleton stepped in and recorded her first career hit – a home run just over the left field fence to cut into the lead 7-4.
Stenglein, who had settled down to pitch three straight solid innings, posted one more as Hofstra went one-two-three in the sixth to put ND back on offense for their final three outs.
DeFau lined out sharply on the first pitch of the inning to get to one out. Ciolli then offered at the fist pitch and flied out to right field. Madrid then grounded out to end the game.