May 14, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (48-17) defeated Villanova (32-26) 2-0 very late Friday evening to secure a spot on the final day of action at the 2004 BIG EAST Championship. The Irish will have to defeat Seton Hall, winners of three straight over Notre Dame, twice on Saturday, May 15, to claim the league title. Seton Hall defeated Notre Dame 2-1 earlier in the day on Friday.
Notre Dame’s pitching was once again the story against Villanova, with Heather Booth tossing a complete game five-hitter. She ended up with six strikeouts and walked just one batter. VU’s Kristen Haynes lasted just 1.1 innings, giving up five hits and two runs (one earned) to drop to 11-11 on the season. Booth picked up her 24th win of the year. Megan Ciolli and Nicole Wicks led the Irish offense with two hits each, while Mallorie Lenn provided the lone RBI of the contest.
Notre Dame has faced the prospect of winning two games in a row on the final day of the BIG EAST Championship just once in the Deanna Gumpf era – and came through. The Irish defeated Virginia Tech twice on the final day during the 2002 season. The games for Saturday are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Notre Dame drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI single by catcher Mallorie Lenn (moved up to fourth in the line up for the first time this season). The Irish actually had the bases loaded in the inning, but Meagan Ruthrauff grounded into a 4-6 double play, allowing Villanova starting pitcher Kristen Haynes to escape the inning. Villanova was able to get its lead off hitter on in the top of the second, but Irish starting pitcher Heather Booth came back with a line out and two strikeouts to end the inning without any scoring damage.
The Irish added another run in the bottom of the second on a passed ball by Villanova catcher Cassandra Koenig. Nicole Wicks led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and found herself at third on a single to short rightfield by Sara Schoonaert. After Stephanie Brown grounded out to the pitcher, a 3-1 offering to Nicole deFau was mishandled by Koenig, allowing Wicks to score with a diving slide at the plate.
Notre Dame spoiled another scoring chance in the top of the fourth inning when Meagan Ruthrauff led off the inning with a solid single to leftfield. Nicole Wicks then dropped a double into rightfield, but Ruthauff could not score on the play. The Irish had runners on first and second with no outs, however. Designated player Carissa Jaquish stepped in and drilled a ball to shortstop, which was handled and tossed to first for the first out of the inning (the runners could not score on the hard hit ball).
Sara Schoonaert followed by hitting a solid ground ball back to pitcher. For some reason, Ruthrauff moved off third to far. Shannon Williams (now pitching for Villanova) threw behind her at third base for the second out of the inning. Brown then struck out looking to end the inning without a Notre Dame run crossing the plate.
Villanova finally started to get to Booth in the top of the sixth inning. Ricci Lugo reached to lead off on an error by Hartmann at third. Andrea Koller followed with a single and Villanova moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Allison Wisniewski stepped in and hit a ground ball to second base. Notre Dame’s Stephanie Brown fielded it cleanly, looked back the runner at third and tossed to first for the out. For unknown reasons, pinch runner Kristin Leese rounded second base a bit too far. Irish first basemen Ruthrauff made the throw to Schoonaert, who applied the tag on a diving Leese to turn a huge double play and snuff out the Villanova scoring opportunity.
The Wildcats would get one hit in the seventh inning, but Booth quickly posted the last two outs to end the game and push Notre Dame to a do-or-die doubleheader with Seton Hall on Saturday.