March 11, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (12-7) lost a heartbreaker at #4/5 Florida State on Thursday evening, battling the 23-3 Seminoles for 10 innings before falling 4-3 on an RBI single. The Irish rallied from a 2-0 deficit to go ahead briefly 3-2 in the third inning, but Florida State responded with a solo home run to tie the game. The teams then battled for six scoreless innings before Kim Hoffer posted her first hit of the game, a single to centerfield which allowed Lesley Palmer to score the winning run.
Irish starting pitcher Heather Booth suffers the hard luck loss to Florida State, falling to 6-3 on the season. Booth worked all 10 innings and struck out 12, both career-highs for the righthander. Her opponent from Florida State, Casey Hunter, was equally impressive going the distance, scattering nine hits and allowing three unearned runs.
Offensive stars for the Irish included junior Megan Ciolli (3-5, RBI) and freshman Stephanie Brown (2-5, RBI, run scored).
Notre Dame will enter FSU’s Invitational on Friday, March 12, and continue tournament action on Saturday and Sunday.
Florida State got on the scoreboard immediately in the bottom of the first inning when Veronica Wootson led off with a single. She moved to second on a passed ball by Irish catcher Mallorie Lenn and was sacrificed over to third by FSU’s Natasha Jacob. The Seminole’s top hitter stepped up at the plate next, Jessica Van der Linden and delivered an RBI single to rightfield for the first run of the game. One out later, Van der Linden scored on double by Lesley Palmer. Booth struck out Beth Wade to end the inning and escape any further damage.
After a scoreless second inning for both teams, Notre Dame put together a string of hits to grab the lead with three runs in the top of the third. With one out, Carissa Jaquish reached on an error by FSU shortstop Hoffer. Sara Schoonaert attempted to move her over with a sacrifice bunt, but FSU’s Hunter threw the ball away. Both runners were safe on the play and Stephanie Brown followed up with a single up the middle, scoring Jaquish and sending Schoonaert to second base. Nicole deFau then came through with her own single, this time to centerfield, but Schoonaert was unable to score on the hard hit and the bases were left loaded for Ciolli.
Ciolli delivered when needed, bouncing a single up the middle to score Schoonaert. Brown reached third on the play, but deFau ended up getting tagged out at second for the second out of the inning. Irish clean up hitter Meagan Ruthrauff then gave Notre Dame the lead with an RBI single down the leftfield line. The inning ended for Notre Dame when Liz Hartmann popped up.
Unfortunately for the Irish player and fans, the lead did not last long. With two outs in the bottom of the third, Wade drilled a solo home run to match the score at 3-3.
The teams battled back and forth, but the scoreboard remained unchanged over the next six innings.
Booth continued to work her way out of jams in the late innings with a gutsy pitching performance.
Wade led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and Katie Fricke drew a walk to put two runners on with no one out. Booth came back to strike out Hoffer and pinch hitter Carey Caluppi to get one out away from escaping the inning. Wootson then popped up to end the Seminole scoring threat.
Notre Dame would come up in the top of the seventh with the heart of the order due and senior Nicole deFau to lead off. DeFAu worked the count full before grounding out sharply to shortstop. Ciolli followed by popping up and Ruthrauff struck out to end the inning and give FSU a final chance to win the contest before extra innings.
The inning started off on the wrong foot for Booth when she walked Jacob. Van der Linden then tried to move Jacob to second with a bunt, but Booth committed Notre Dame’s first error of the game to put two runners on. Vazquez then bounced a ground ball to Hartmann at third, allowing Notre Dame to force the lead runner and get the first out. Lesley Palmer popped up for the second out of the inning and look who was up, Beth Wade, two for three so far in the game with the game-tying home run. Undeterred, Booth dug in and forced Wade to fly out to rightfield on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.
With Booth possibly tiring, Notre Dame needed to get a go ahead run in the top of the eighth, but Hunter retired Hartmann, Wicks and Lenn on consecutive ground balls to get her offense right back in the batter’s box.
Fricke attempted to reach on a bunt hit to lead off the bottom of the eighth but Lenn jumped out from behind the plate and threw to first to get the first out. Hoffer followed by battling Booth to a 3-2 count, but the Irish sophomore came through with a great pitch for a strike out. Taking the momentum from her big strike out of Hoffer, Booth came right back to sit down Galuppi and end the inning and push her career-best strikeout total to 12.
The pitching war continued in the ninth inning, as Hunter set the Irish down in order again and Booth allowed just a single to Jacob while facing the top of the FSU order in the bottom of the set.
Notre Dame would get two runners on with one out in the top of the 10th, but could not get the big hit required for a go ahead run. Ciolli singled and Ruthrauff drew a walk, but Hartmann struck out looking on a tough call and Wicks grounded out to short to push the game into the bottom of the 10th.
Booth found herself in a jam immediately when FSU began their at bat. Palmer drilled a lead off double to left centerfield and was sacrificed over to third base to put the winning run just 60 feet away. Fricke grounded out to Ruthrauff at first base and Palmer was not able to score on the play, giving the RBI responsibility to Hoffer. Booth was unable to escape this time, as Hoffer singled to the outfield just off the glove of Ciolli in left-center and FSU walked away with a hard-fought 4-3 victory.