May 14, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (44-12) won an elimination game 4-1 over Syracuse (28-22) on day two of the BIG EAST Championship at the Belleville Complex late Friday night. The Irish will move on to face Seton Hall, who defeated Notre Dame 2-1 on Friday, for the conference championship on Saturday at 1 p.m. Notre Dame will need to defeat the Pirates twice to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame utilized a big four-run third inning to earn the victory, the key hit a two-run RBI single by sophomore Stephanie Brown. Junior Kellie Middleton and senior Megan Ciolli also drove in runs in the third inning.
Junior Heather Booth picked up the victory for Notre Dame, pitching a complete-game four-hitter, striking out 10 and allowing only one unearned run. Courtney Mosch took the loss for Syracuse and was chased out of the game after 2.1 innings, giving up five hits, four earned runs and striking out one.
The Irish face a daunting challenge on Sunday, needing two victories against Seton Hall – who has defeated Notre Dame in six of the last seven meetings between the two teams. Notre Dame will also face a somewhat rested Megan Meyer (who has won the first two games of the tournament for Seton Hall), while both Irish pitchers will be a bit tired after leaving the field at approximately 11:30 p.m.
The Notre Dame – Syracuse elimination game was slated to begin at 7:00 p.m., but two rain delays in the preceding game pushed first pitch back to 9:15 p.m.
Notre Dame gained the early lead in the top of the third inning when the bottom of the lineup came through with two hits. Mallorie Lenn led off the inning with a single to leftfield and was replaced by pinch runner Nicole Wicks – who ended up on second after a sacrifice bunt by Liz Hartmann.
Sara Schoonaert stepped in next and drilled a single through the left side. Wicks had to hold up at second for a short time, waiting to see if the ball would be fielded cleanly. She broke for second when the ball went into the outfield, drawing a throw to home plate by Syracuse leftfielder Tanya Rose. Schoonaert moved up to second on the throw home, getting in scoring position for Irish lead off hitter Stephanie Brown.
Brown came through with a solid single up the middle, plating both runners and moving up to second on the throw home. The Irish kept the hit parade going when Kellie Middleton drilled a double into rightfield to drive in the third run of the game for Notre Dame. Middleton’s big hit drove Courtney Mosch out of the game, bringing Syracuse’s game one and two starter Erin Downey into the game.
The pitching switch did not affect Megan Ciolli, as the Irish team captain posted another single up the middle – scoring Middleton easily and moving to second on the throw home (the third runner to advance to second base on a throw home in the inning).
Ciolli remained at second when Meagan Ruthrauff grounded out and Carrie Wisen lined out to rightfield, but the Irish now owned their biggest lead of the tournament at four runs.
Syracuse put together a scoring threat in the top of the fifth inning. Katie Kaempfer drew a lead off walk and was replaced by pinch runner Joscie Kaup. After a strikeout, Kaup moved to second base on a solid single to rightfield by Tanya Rose. That brought up Chanel Roehner – two for two in the game to that point.
Roehner grounded sharply to second base and Notre Dame attempted to turn a double play – getting the out at second base but Schoonaert’s hurried throw to first base ended up wide of the bag. Kaup rounded third to score on the play and Notre Dame’s lead was cut to three runs.
Booth escaped further damage in the inning by striking out Alexis Switenko.
Syracuse threatened briefly in the bottom of the seventh when the Irish committed two errors, but Booth struck out Roehner to end the game.