Feb. 24, 2002
It was another tough loss for the University of Notre Dame softball team. The Irish (4-6) suffered their third consecutive one-run defeat at the hands of #7 Oklahoma 3-2 in elimination play at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
Notre Dame’s last three losses have come to Texas A&M (who was in the running for the NFCA Leadoff Classic title), #8 Arizona State and #7 Oklahoma, all by one run.
The Irish jumped ahead in the second inning when senior catcher Jarrah Myers led off the inning with a rocket home run to leftfield. It was Myers first round-tripper of the season.
A lead off walk came back to haunt Notre Dame starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein in the fourth inning. After the walk and a subsequent fly out, Stenglein hit Kelli Braitsch with a pitch to put runners at first and second. Heather Scaglione then singled up the middle to tie the score at 1-1.
The Oklahoma offense came calling again in the sixth. Braitsch led off with a single and stole second when Stenglein struck out Scaglione. Jessica Leslie singled to shortstop, moving Braitsch to third. Pinch hitter Tiffany Weight stepped in and Leslie eventually stole second. Once again, the Sooners posted an infield single, scoring Braitsch to give Oklahoma a 2-1 lead.
Another Sooner pinch hitter stepped in next and came through, lifting a sacrifice fly to leftfield to put Oklahoma up 3-1.
As the Irish have shown all season, they continued to battle until the last out.
Andria Bledsoe led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run, sending an 0-1 pitch deep over the leftfield wall. After Kas Hoag flied out, Annie Dell’Aria was called from the bench to pinch hit.
The rookie came through with a rocket single to leftfield and Nicole deFau came back in the game to run for Dell’Aria. With a runner on first, Megan Ciolli popped up to first base and Notre Dame was down to their last out.
Alexis Madrid, hitting in the second spot in the lineup for the first time this season, drilled a single to centerfield to keep the Irish hopes alive. Now it was up to Jenny Kriech, moved down to third in the order, to come through with the base knock.
The Irish co-captain and centerfielder delivered, driving a ball through the hole on the right side and off the glove of Sooner second base Leslie. The ball was quickly retrieved by Oklahoma rightfielder Jennifer Stump, who threw home to get deFau at the plate by a step and end the game.
NOTES: Notre Dame’s lineup was shifted on Sunday, due to Andrea Loman being unable to play … Loman took a line drive off her leg in the Irish loss to Arizona State … Liz Hartmann took over for Loman at third, while deFau played rightfield and Megan Ciolli shifted to left … Notre Dame was back in action just 10 hours after their loss to Arizona State, taking on Oklahoma at 8 a.m. (the Notre Dame – Arizona State game ended at approximately 10:00 p.m. on Saturday evening) … the Columbus, Ga., temperature at game time for the Oklahoma game was approximately 40 degrees and the field was still covered with frost from the night freeze … the Irish will return to action next weekend in the Aggie Invitational in College Station, Texas.