March 13, 2002
The University of Notre Dame softball team (7-8) utilized two big home runs to take one more step toward the .500 mark on its Spring Break trip in Southern California with a 3-2 victory at Long Beach State. The Irish will enter the Kia Klassic tomorrow, March 14, with a bit of momentum as they face #2 Arizona for the second time this season at 3 p.m. local time (6 p.m. EST).
Notre Dame wasted little time getting on the scoreboard against the 49ers at Mayfair Park. With one out, freshman Megan Ciolli bounced an infield hit behind the pitcher’s circle to get on base for #3 hitter Andrea Loman.
One of the best inside pitch hitters in the nation, Loman got a hold of Long Beach State starting pitcher Meredith Cervenka’s third offering for a thunderous home run to put the Irish ahead 2-0. For a bit of perspective, Mayfair Park is typically used for slow pitch softball – so the fences are about 30 feet behind normal collegiate softball dimensions. Mayfair also features a very high chain-link fence wall in rightfield which is 230 feet away from home plate and approximately 75 feet high. Loman’s home run ricocheted off the top quarter of the fence – and was still on its way up. After the game, it was hard to find a fan in the park that could remember seeing a home run of that proportion hit in person.
With a 2-0 lead in hand, Notre Dame starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein (6-6) went to work. She got out of a jam in the bottom of the first inning and eventually settled down to shut out the 49ers over five innings, scattering five hits and striking out one batter when she left the game in the bottom of the sixth.
The Irish got an insurance run in the top of the fifth when Ciolli belted another titanic home run to lead off the inning. The Irish rightfielder smacked a high-outside pitch deep over the rightfield fence that carried over 250 feet in the air.
Freshman Carrie Wisen entered the game to pitch for Notre Dame in the sixth and gave up a lead off hit, but the Irish defense eventually turned a double play to end the threat. Long Beach State would eventually put together one final rally in the bottom of the seventh.
Three singles that loaded the bases with one out put Stenglein back in to finish off the game. The 49ers were able to bounce two more hits through the right side to cut the Irish lead to just one run, but Stenglein batted down a hot shot back to her from Long Beach’s Jessica Smith and calmly made the throw to first for the final out.