March 15, 2001
The 14th-ranked University of Notre Dame softball team (16-1) knocked off its fourth ranked opponent of the season with a 4-2 victory over #7 Fresno State on the first day of competition in the 2001 Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif., Thursday. The Irish will face fifth-ranked Oklahoma on Friday, at 11 a.m., Pacific time to continue the Kia Klassic schedule.
The Irish had previously upset then-fourth ranked Washington 3-2, then-18th ranked South Carolina 1-0 and swept a doubleheader from then-24th ranked Cal State Northridge 5-1 and 7-3 earlier in the season before their triumph over Fresno State (16-5) today.
Both teams jumped on the scoreboard early in the game in dramatically different fashion. FSU would utilize its short game offense while the powerful bats that litter the Irish lineup would make their presence known early in the contest.
Fresno State came out with the bunt-hit attack, putting two runners on base in the first three pitches of the game. FSU’s Becky Witt led off with a bunt, followed by Tiffany Whipple. Irish starting pitcher Jen Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.), who willed herself out of several Bulldog scoring chances throughout the game, logged the first out of the game when Lori Hoffman flied out to leftfield.
Fresno received an RBI single by Lindsay Fossatti (who would finish two-for-four in the game) to provide a 1-0 lead before the Irish were even able to settle into the game. Sharron escaped further damage in the inning by striking out Pam Perez and inducing Pam West to pop up.
Just three outs into the ball game and the Irish knew they needed to put some runs on the board. They followed through in their quest with an impressive display of power hitting, jumping all over Bulldog staring pitcher Leslie Poole.
Jenny Kriech (Indianapolis, Ind.) placed the first pitch she saw into leftfield for a lead-off single. Danny Klayman (San Dieog, Calif.) followed suit with another single to leftfield on the third pitch of the inning. Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) kept the hit streak alive by poking the fourth pitch of the inning into centerfield, allowing Kriech to score from second base. A Bulldog throwing error allowed Alkire to move to second and Klayman to third on the play.
Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.), who would finish two-for-three in the game to raise her season average to .404, knocked in Klayman with a fielder’s choice grounder to second base on which the Bulldogs were unable to record the out. Poole would post the first out of the inning on an apparent strikeout by Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, Calif.). Initially, Lemire advanced to first base after the pitch hit her in the arm, but the umpires ruled that she had swung the bat before the ball contacted her arm and was therefore out on the play.
After discussion about the strikeout ended, Myers stole her fourth base of the season to put herself in scoring position. Andrea Loman (Riverside, Calif.) was up next in the Irish batting order and she lined a pitch directly back to Poole, who made a stabbing stop of the sharp grounder and tossed to first for the second out of the inning.
Andria Bledsoe (Higley, Ariz.) made sure the Irish offensive surge would not go to waste by doubling off the base of the leftfield wall, allowing Alkire and Myers to score and providing her starting pitcher with a three-run lead.
It was the second deep-into-the-gap double of the day for Bledsoe, who also posted a three-RBI two-bagger against Utah State earlier in the day.
Bledsoe’s double forced Poole out the game and Fresno brought in lefthander Lori Hoffman. Hoffman would end the inning four pitches later when Sharron flied out to deep centerfield.
Fresno State kept the pressure on in the second inning. After Mitzi Ing grounded out, Vanessa Czarnecki reached first after she was hit by a Sharron wild pitch. Becky Witt followed with her second of three hits in the game and Whipple repeated her bunt-single from the first inning to load the bases with one out. Sharron came right back at the Bulldog batters, striking out Hoffman and Fossatti to end the inning and keep the Irish lead at three.
The pressure on the Irish defense would not subside for the rest of the game. Fresno put at least one runner on base in every inning of the contest, but Sharron refused to give up the big hit to surrender her lead. The Irish hurler scattered 12 Fresno State hits in the game, the most Sharron has given up in over three years.
Fresno was able to get on run back in the fourth inning on a RBI single by Fossatti, but Sharron would hold them off the rest of the game to secure the upset victory for the Irish. The Irish lefthander finished with four strikeouts, one walk, two runs scored and keeps her season ERA at a paltry 1.18. She is now 9-0 in 2001 with five complete games and 65 strikeouts.
The road to Kia Klassic championship play will not get any easier for the Irish tomorrow. Notre Dame is set to face fifth-ranked Oklahoma, the defending National Champion, at 11 a.m. in the Titan Softball Complex.
GAME NOTES: Three of Notre Dame’s four ranked victories this season have come in two different tournaments, the Holiday Inn Invitational (a 3-2 victory over Washington and a 1-0 win over South Carolina in Tampa, Fla.) and today’s triumph over Fresno State … Kriech and Myers continue to decimate opponent pitching, Kriech is now batting .429 this season and Myers is at .404 … Bledsoe is now second on the team in RBI (13) behind Myers (15) … Myers also is tied for the team lead in stolen bases (4) with Kriech … the Irish pitching staff boasts a 1.42 ERA this season and has given up just three home runs in 437 at-bats … Notre Dame is now hitting .311 as a team.