May 12, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (43-11) won its first game of the 2005 BIG EAST Championship 3-0 over the fourth seed, Villanova. The Irish will move on to face the second seed, Seton Hall, at 3 p.m. on Friday as the tournament continues. Notre Dame received another dominating pitching performance by senior Steffany Stenglein, who was named the conference pitcher of the year on Wednesday. Stenglein allowed just one hit to Villanova (in the top of the seventh) while striking out 10 and walking just one.
The Irish offense provided enough support for Stenglein, led by senior Megan Ciolli’s two for three performance. Junior Meagan Ruthrauff and classmate Sara Schoonaert also drove in runs for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame will face Seton Hall on Friday after the Pirates defeated Syracuse 3-2 in the first game of the tournament. Syracuse will face Villanova in the first elimination game of the tournament on Friday at 5 p.m.
The Irish broke out to an early lead in the bottom of the first off strange back-to-back doubles from Ciolli and Ruthrauff. With two outs, Ciolli blooped a hit into short rightfield which bounced away from Villanova rightfielder Allie Wisniewski. Ciolli did not hesitate around first base and chugged for second with a double. Ruthrauff followed with a high pop up behind second base that no Wildcat defender could track down. The ball fell without being touched between centerfield, second base and shortstop and with no one covering second – Ruthrauff moved to second base with the RBI hit.
Notre Dame tacked on another run in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Sara Schoonaert. With two outs, Liz Hartmann doubled to rightfield and was replaced by pinch runner Sarah Smith – who scored on Schoonaert’s solid single up the middle.
The lead grew to three runs in the bottom of the fifth when Kellie Middleton bounced into a fielder’s choice with one out. She stole second base on the first pitch and scored when Ciolli tomahawked a high pitch up the middle for a solid single, allowing Middleton to score easily on the play.
Stenglein lost her no-hit bid in the top of the seventh with one out. Lisa Krueger knocked a slow ground ball past her in the circle which ended up just behind second base. Krueger ended up at second on the hit, as Notre Dame’s Katie Laing picked up the ball but could not make a play to first base.