March 28, 2001
The clouds moved away, the sun was finally shining and softball was once again being played at Ivy Field today. The University of Notre Dame softball team (20-3) was able to play its home-opening doubleheader on Wednesday, one day later than previously scheduled due to the stubborn South Bend, Ind., spring weather that forced yesterday’s doubleheader with Western Michigan to move to Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Notre Dame dispatched Valparaiso 6-0 and 4-0 today with strong pitching performances and streaky team hitting. The Irish pitchers combined for 27 strikeouts in 14 innings of work against the Crusaders, allowing just three hits in the two games. Senior All-American Jen Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) sat down 14 Valparaiso batters in the initial contest to set a new personal high for strikeouts in a game (previous high was 13 vs. Northern Illinois in 1999). Freshman Kristin Schmidt (Houston, Texas) was equally impressive in the second game, striking out 11 Crusaders in five innings of work. Schmidt struck out the side in the second and third innings and did not allow a ball out of the infield until a two-out single in the fifth.
Sophomore Jessica Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) also posted her most impressive appearance of the season, tossing two shutout innings with two strikeouts in the second game.
The Irish offense got on the board early in both games. Jenny Kriech (Indianapolis, Ind.) led off the first game with a walk and stole second. With one out, Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) hit a single, moving Kriech to third and taking second base on the throw in from centerfield. Cleanup hitter Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.) doubled in both runners with a shot to the gap in right-centerfield to give the Irish a 2-0 lead.
While Jen Sharron kept the Crusaders off the base paths, the Notre Dame bats remained quiet until the fifth inning. Danielle Klayman (San Diego, Calif.) singled, then Kriech doubled to put runners on second and third. Alkire posted her second hit of the contest to knock in Klayman while Kriech moved to third. Myers followed by blasting the first pitch of her at-bat far over the leftfield wall for her fourth home run of the season and third, fourth and fifth RBI of the game.
To begin the second game, Alexis Madrid (Temecula, Calif.) reached on an error with one out and came all the way around to score on a Alkire double down the rightfield line. Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, Calif.) then posted her first of three hits in the game, knocking in Alkire for her eighth RBI of the season.
Andria Bledsoe (Higley, Ariz.) scored Notre Dame’s third run of the game in the second inning. She drew a lead-off walk, stole second, moved to third on a grounder and came home on a Crusader wild pitch.
Lemire’s second RBI of the game occurred in the fifth, knocking in Alkire who had reached on a single and stole second base.
The 11th-ranked Irish have now reached 20 wins faster than any Notre Dame sofball team in history and look to improve on that record tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., vs. Western Michigan.
DOUBLEHEADER NOTES: Melanie Alkire’s line for the two games: four-for-six, two RBI, two stolen bases, four runs scored and a double (her sixth of the season) … Kristin Schmidt improves to 9-1 with a 0.88 ERA while Jen Sharron is now 11-2 with a 1.90 ERA … Lizzy Lemire posted four hits in the two games … Alexis Madrid went three-for-seven while batting in the second spot in the lineup for the first time this season … every Irish player saw action in both games … the Irish had seven stolen bases in both games while Jarrah Myers threw out the lone Crusader that attempted to steal … Notre Dame continues to achieve new milestones with each victory, including best-ever 20-3 to start the season, quickest to 20 wins, highest-ever ranking (11th) and is batting .303 as a team.