April 19, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (30-9) saw its 20-game win streak snapped in game two at DePaul (28-13) 7-4, but earned a split with a game one victory 2-1 in eight innings to post 30 wins in 2005. The matchup featured two of the top teams in the Midwest – and two future conference mates, as DePaul will join the BIG EAST Conference and compete in softball next season.
The Irish won game one behind another stellar pitching performance by senior Steffany Stenglein. The BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week, Stenglein stifled the DePaul hitters – allowing three hits, one run and striking out 14. She pitched all eight innings of the first game and improved to 15-4 on the season.
On offense in game one, junior Kellie Middleton delivered the big hit with an RBI single in the top if the eighth inning. Freshman Katie Laing continued her clutch hitting as well by knocking in a run on a double in the third inning.
Game two started out well for the Irish, who jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead only to see the Blue Demons answer back with a four-run inning. Starting pitcher junior Heather Booth never settled into the groove in the game, eventually surrendering seven runs – the big hit a three-run home run to Jessica Evans in the fourth inning.
Notre Dame scratched two more runs across in the game to make the score closer, but could not muster the necessary rally and fell 7-4. Tracie Adix picked up the win for DePaul in game two.
The Irish will return home for a challenging weekend, facing six games in four days – starting with a doubleheader against Akron at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
GAME ONE RECAP:
Notre Dame broke up the pitching duel in the top of the fourth inning with a two-out rally. After Kellie Middleton grounded out and Megan Ciolli struck out looking on a close call, Meagan Ruthrauff delivered the first hit of the game for either team – a solid single to centerfield.
Katie Laing was due next and the freshman second base, who entered game one against DePaul with three consecutive game-winning hits, delivered in the clutch again. She drilled a double deep into the gap in left-centerfield, which allowed the hustling Ruthrauff to score all the way from first. Liz Hartmann popped up to end the inning, but the Irish had scratched across the first run of the game.
The Irish lead would not last long, however, as DePaul power hitter Saskia Roberson led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run just over the wall in centerfield. It was the 11th round tripper of the season for the DePaul first base and 47th of her career. The big hit was just the first of the game for DePaul against Stenglein.
Stenglein would come back strong from the home run, sitting down all three outs in the fourth on strikeouts (though Linda Secka did double with two outs, she was stranded at second base).
Stenglein also executed a nifty escape in the bottom of the fifth when she hit the second batter of the inning after she began the inning with a strikeout. An infield hit and walk, sandwiched around a ground out, left runners at first and second with Roberson due up. The Irish intentionally walked Roberson and the move worked -as Stenglein struck out Jessica Evans on a curve ball to extinguish the DePaul scoring opportunity.
Notre Dame came back with its own scoring chance in the top of the sixth when Stephanie Brown drew a lead off walk. Middleton could not get the sacrifice bunt down an popped it back to the pitcher for the first out. Ciolli was due next and she drilled a pitch that looked destined for centerfield, but DePaul’s Sandy Vojik made a great leaping grab jumping to her right to rob Notre Dame’s team captain of a hit.
The inning ended when Brown was thrown out attempting to steal second, although it looked as though she had her hand on the bag before the tag was applied.
Notre Dame took the lead in extra innings, stringing together three hits in the top of the eighth. Carrie Wisen led off the inning with a solid single through the left side and was replace by pinch runner Nicole Wicks. Mallorie Lenn immediately sacrificed Wicks into scoring position with a bunt, but she remained at second when Schoonaert struck out looking.
Back to the top of order, Brown drew a walk on a great at bat, putting two runners on base for Middleton. The Irish leftfielder, after falling behind 0-2 in the count, delivered with a single up the middle – scoring Wicks easily from second base.
Ciolli kept the pressure on with a bunt single to load the bases, but Ruthrauff popped out to end the inning.
Stenglein ended the complete-game eight-inning thriller with a strikeout, her 14th of the game, but the way the Irish decided to go about their work in the bottom of the eighth was unusual at least – deciding to intentionally walk two Blue Demon hitters. Roberson was the lead off hitter and the Irish immediately issued the intentional walk to the slugger for the second time in the game – putting the tying run on base and winning run at the plate.
DePaul grounded into a force out, then sacrificed the runner into scoring position. DePaul’s Linda Secka was due up next. Secka had drawn a walk and doubled previously in the game and Stenglein fell behind 2-0 and decided to issue another intentional walk instead of giving the DePaul centerfielder something to drive.
The move worked – as Stenglein painted the inside corner on a 3-2 to strikeout Katie Sheaks to end the game.
GAME TWO RECAP:
Junior Heather Booth took the mound for Notre Dame in game two, while the Blue Demons turned to Tracie Adix. Both pitchers worked through two scoreless innings before, but the Irish were hitting the ball hard – just unluckily right to DePaul’s defenders.
Notre Dame broke through for two runs in the top of the third inning. Schoonaert posted a one-out infield hit to get the offense going. She moved to second on a ground out by Brown and ended up at third on an infield hit by Middleton.
Ciolli was due next and the Irish captain delivered, drilling a single into rightfield. Schoonaert scored easily on the play and Middleton attempted to move to third base – while Ciolli moved up to second on the throw home.
The throw was cut off, however, and DePaul threw to third base in an effort to tag out Middleton. Before the throw arrived, Blue Demon third base Jenny Doezie knocked Middleton down just in front of the bag. The throw ended up down the leftfield line and Middleton jumped up and headed to home plate. DePaul backed up the play well and gunned down Middleton at the plate – but she was ruled safe on interference.
It was an easy call for the umpires, as every one at the field saw that Middleton was interfered with at third base. By rule, if interfered with the runner moves up one base automatically and Middleton’s run was put on the scoreboard.
Booth could not keep the momentum on Notre Dame’s side, however, as she surrendered four consecutive hits and a walk with two outs in the bottom of the third – including a three-run home run by Jessica Evans. Notre Dame’s two-run lead was instantly erased and the Irish faced their first deficit of the day.
Booth’s struggles continued in the bottom of the fourth – and with evening coming on quicker (DePaul does not have lights at its field) – any addition to the home team’s run advantage would prove difficult to overcome.
Marcy Wilus drew a lead off walk and was sacrifice to second – scoring on a single to leftfield Kate Sheaks – a hit that seemed destined for a ground out to third but the ball took a wild hop and bounced over Liz Hartmann’s head at third.
Booth ended the inning on a ground ball and pop out, but the Irish faced a three run deficit with time running out.
Notre Dame’s offense suddenly became silent in the late innings of game two, going down in order in the fourth and fifth innings. DePaul, on the other hand, kept the pressure on by increasing its lead to five runs with an RBI ground out and RBI double by Wilus in the fifth inning.
The Irish took advantage of a two-base error by DePaul in the top of the sixth to get two runs back, but with runners on second and third with no outs, all the Irish could manage was two RBI ground outs to cut the lead to three runs.
With six games in four days looming this weekend and Booth laboring through the game, Notre Dame turned to Kenya Fuemmeler to eat up some innings in the bottom of the sixth. Fuemmeler delivered with a solid inning, as she allowed the first two runners to reach but recovered to get a double play and ground ball to end the inning.
Notre Dame was retired in order in the top of the seventh inning as the Irish offense would muster just one hit over the last four innings of game two.