March 26, 2006
The University of Notre Dame softball team (13-10) swept its second doubleheader of the season on Sunday afternoon, taking two at Western Michigan (10-7). The Irish won game one 5-0 behind a combined no-hitter pitching performance, then outlasted the home team 2-1 in eight innings to complete the two-game sweep. The team will return to campus for its 2006 home opener on Wednesday, March 29, against Bowling Green at 5 p.m.
In the first contest of the day, senior Heather Booth and junior Kenya Fuemmeler combined for a no-hitter, the first for the Irish since March 30, 2005, at Valparaiso. That day, Booth combined with ’05 graduate Carrie Wisen for a five-inning no-hitter. The no-no is the second combined of Booth’s career and the first for Fuemmeler. It also marked the 11th combined no-hitter in Irish softball history, 35th overall and fifth of the Deanna Gumpf era (since 2002).
Booth pitched the first four innings of game one, striking out five and walking three to pick up her sixth win of the year (6-7). Fuemmeler finished it off with six ground ball outs and three pop ups in three innings of work. The game one offense was highlighted by a three for four performance by junior Stephanie Brown. In addition, senior Sara Schoonaert and junior Gessica Hufnagle each posted RBI hits.
Booth also picked up a save in game two, finishing off a solid performance by freshman Brittney Bargar. Bargar pitched 7 1/3 of the eight-inning victory, allowing just three hits and striking out six. The big hit of game two was delivered by freshman Alexandra Kotcheff, whose single in the top of the eighth was misplayed in centerfield – allowing two unearned runs to score. Kotcheff finished game two three for four at the plate.
GAME ONE RECAP:
The Irish struck first in the top of the second inning with solid execution and aggressive baserunning. Ruthrauff led off with a solid single up the middle and was replaced by pinch runner Sarah Smith. Katie Laing then moved Smith to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Linda Kohan stepped in for the RBI opportunity and ricocheted a hit off Tricia VanDerSlik in the pitcher’s circle. The ball found its way into leftfield and the Irish were in business with runners on the corners and just one out.
Schoonaert was due next and hit a ground ball deep to second base. Smith was running on contact and scored on the fielder’s choice at the plate. Pinch runner Beth Northway, who had entered for Kohan, moved to third on the play after having stole second base. Schoonaert also moved into scoring position with a stolen base and Erin Glasco due up. Glasco struck out on a 1-2 pitch and the RBI responsibility fell to Gessica Hufnagle. Before Hufnagle settled into her at bat, however, WMU catcher Becky Bartosz was credited with a passed ball. Northway attempted to score on the pitch which found its way to the backstop, but a fortuitous bounce off the fence gave Bartosz the perfect opportunity to turn and throw Northway out at the plate. VanDerSlik performed a solid tag on the play and the inning ended with the Irish ahead 1-0.
Notre Dame moved its lead to 2-0 in the top of the third inning. With one out, Brown led off with an infield slap hit, moved to second on her 11th stolen base of the season and scored when Mallorie Lenn’s ground ball to first base was dropped on the exchange – allowing Brown to score from second base.
The Irish lead increased to five runs in the top of the fourth inning with back-to-back two-out hits from Hufnagle and Brown. With one out, Kohan doubled to the wall in right-centerfield. Schoonaert followed with an infield hit to put runners at the corners and quickly stole second base to put both runners in scoring position. Glasco struck out, but Hufnagle delivered with a two-RBI single up the middle.
Still aggressive on the bases, Hufnagle stole second base to get in scoring position for Brown. The Irish leadoff hitter delivered with a double into left-centerfield to deliver the Irish a 5-0 lead. Kotcheff grounded out to third to end the rally.
Booth completed the fourth inning before she was replaced by Fuemmeler. She pitched four hitless stanzas, striking out five and walking three on 69 pitches. Fuemmeler completed the no-hitter with 49 pitches and two walks.
GAME TWO RECAP:
After the starting pitchers, Brittney Bargar for Notre Dame and Krysten Shumaker for Western Michigan, dominated the first three innings of game two, the Broncos posted their first hit of the day and first scoring threat in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kristi Strange hit the first pitch of the inning over Brown’s head in rightfield for a leadoff double. Amanda Heckaman stepped in next and drilled a ground ball to Schoonaert at shortstop. The ball was misplayed for an error, but before the Irish coaching staff had a chance to disparage the Irish shortstop she stepped up to make a huge play. On a slow liner from Lauren Fuller behind her position, Schoonaert fielded the ball cleanly and outraced Strange to second base for a momentum-turning double play. After a walk, Bargar ended the inning on a ground out to second base.
Notre Dame’s first scoring chance came in the top of the sixth inning. Hufnagle led off and was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by designated player Stephanie Mola. Brown continued to struggle against Shumaker, striking out for the third time and leaving the RBI opportunity for Kotcheff. The rookie centerfield blooped a single just over second base and Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf was forced to send the runner – looking for the first run of the game. WMU’s Katie Niemi came up with the ball and made a solid throw to home plate in plenty of time to cut down Hufnagle and end the inning.
The Irish put together a two-out rally in the top of the seventh, but a great diving catch on a sure extra base hit robbed Notre Dame of the first runs of the game. With two outs, Laing singled through the left side to keep the Irish alive. Kohan then posted the fourth hit of the game for the Irish to put runners at first and second. Schoonaert was due next and the Irish senior captain drilled a ball deep into the left-centerfield gap. Both runs might have scored on the play but Western Michigan’s Kristi Strange made an all-star diving catch to end the inning and the Notre Dame scoring threat.
Western Michigan posted its own scoring threat in the bottom of the seventh. Catcher Becky Bartosz lifted a high fly ball over Hufnagle’s head in leftfield that looked like a home run coming off the bat. Hufnagle made a long run and a solid effort at an over-the-shoulder catch but the ball fell at the warning track for a double. Bargar came back to calmly get a ground ball to shortstop to send the game into extra innings.
The Irish finally scratched across the first two runs of the game on two defensive miscues by the Broncos in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Mola posted her first career hit – a solid single up the middle. Brown was due next and her ground ball to the pitcher was misplayed, allowing both runners to reach safely. Kotcheff followed up by drilling the first pitch she was offered straight up the middle of the WMU defense for a single. The Bronco outfield was playing shallow, however, and Gumpf put the brakes on Mola rounding third base. That would prove temporary, however, as Western Michigan centerfielder Connie Kolokithas let the ball sneak by her and all the way to the outfield wall. Mola and Brown easily scored on the play and Kotcheff moved all the way to third base.
Shumaker recovered to get Lenn on a strikeout and Ruthrauff on a pop up to end the inning.
Western Michigan would not go quietly in the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out, Danielle Daughtry crushed a solo home run to centerfield to cut the Irish lead to one run. Gumpf immediately turned to Booth in relief and the Irish senior picked up her second save of the season with a short fly ball to rightfield and a strikeout.
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: In game one, Notre Dame utilized nearly its whole bench personnel … Brittany Glynn, Sarah Smith and Beth Northway made pinch running appearances and Stephanie Mola lined out to shortstop as a pinch hitter … Glynn also saw her second career at bat in the top of the seventh inning of game one, fouling off several pitches before fouling out to first base … some additional game-one no-hitter stats: at bats – 20, batters faced 27, walks issued five, strikeouts five (all by Booth), 115 pitches thrown, six fly ball outs, 10 ground ball outs, one wild pitch … Notre Dame tweaked its lineup against the Broncos on Sunday … senior first base Meagan Ruthrauff shifted across the infield to third, while freshman Linda Kohan made the same move in reverse, heading over to make her first career start at first base.