April 15, 2004
The University of Notre Dame softball team (32-13) lost any momentum gained from its victory over #18/19 Nebraska earlier this week with a 4-3, 10-inning loss to Illinois-Chicago (20-18) at Ivy Field on Thursday evening. The loss is the second of the year at home for Notre Dame, but the Irish will get a chance to recover when they welcome Providence to town for BIG EAST action on Sunday, April 18, at 11 a.m.
Alycia Creese provided the big hit for the Flames (and picked up the pitching victory) on Thursday evening, slicing a single through the right side to drive in pinch runner Jessica Reusnow. Ruesnow was on second base due to the international tie breaker rule, which puts the last batter from the previous inning on second base in an effort to end the game. It was agreed by both coaches before the game started to switch to the international tie breaker rule in the 10th inning.
Notre Dame’s chance to match the UIC score in the bottom of the seventh came just short – due to lack of execution and a great defensive recovery. With Carissa Jaquish on second, Sara Schoonaert could not get the sacrifice bunt down to move her to third and eventually struck out. Stephanie Brown then popped up for the second out. Senior Nicole deFau was due next (the only Irish batter with two hits in the game) and she laced a ground ball toward the middle of the Flame defense. Shortstop Joyce Cathey scooped the ball, but dropped it for an error. Jaquish was sent to score on the play, but Cathey set her feet, made a great throw home and UIC catcher Elizabeth Jacoby put down the tag for the final out.
The Irish had to rally to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single from Mallorie Lenn. UIC posted 11 hits to the home team’s eight, while the Flames also left 11 runners on base. Carrie Wisen suffered the loss for Notre Dame in relief, dropping to 3-1 on the season. UIC relief pitcher Creese, who had the game-winning hit, also earned the victory to move to 2-2 on the season. She struck out six of the 11 Irish batters she faced.
Notre Dame starting pitcher Heather Booth struggled with her control early in the contest, walking a batter and giving up a single in the top of the first. She escaped any damage, however, by striking out two batters and getting Alycia Creese to ground out to second with two runners on.
The Irish got on the board early in the bottom of the first. With one out, Nicole deFau drilled a 3-2 pitch into centerfield for a hit. After Megan Ciolli moved her over with a sacrifice ground ball, Meagan Ruthrauff drove her in with a solid double into the left-centerfield gap for a 1-0 lead. Mallorie Lenn popped up to second base to end the inning.
Notre Dame tacked on another run to the lead in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Liz Hartmann and Nicole Wicks. Pinch runner Kenya Fuemmeler scored on Wicks’ double, but the batter was thrown out at third base for the first out of the inning. Carissa Jaquish struck out looking and Sara Schoonaert grounded out to first base to end the inning.
That second run would be important as UIC came back to get one run in the top of the third off three singles. Amanda Rivera posted the RBI single on a long hit off the leftfield fence. Booth escaped further damage with a fly out and strike out to end the inning. The Flames ended up stranding five runners over the first three innings.
Booth came back in the fourth inning to retire the Flames in order for the first time in the game.
While UIC starting pitcher Alison Aguilar was settling in (retiring the Irish without a run in the third and fourth) her offense came back to get the tying and go ahead runs in the top of the fifth. Cameron Astiazaran led off with a single, was sacrificed to second base with a bunt and scored on a double by Sara Hernandez – her second hit of the game. Rivera then drew a walk (her second free pass of the game) to put runners on first and second with one out.
Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf decided to call on Carrie Wisen in relief of Booth. The trouble continued, however, as Wisen walked the first batter she faced – Creese – to load the bases with one out. Nicole Shephard followed by bouncing a ground ball through the left side hole to drive in one run, put the Flames ahead for the first time in the game and keep the bases loaded for Tonya Maosi.
Hartmann stepped up to bail out the Irish, however. Maosi lined a shot down to her at third. She stabbed the ball, fell backward, then jumped forward to tag out pinch runner Kathleen Mixan for a double play to end the inning.
The Irish could not take advantage of the momentum from Hartmann’s big play, however, and were retired in order without getting a ball out of the infield in the bottom of the fifth.
UIC kept the pressure on Wisen in the top of the sixth – posting two singles in the inning. A caught stealing on a great throw from Lenn got the first out of the inning and Wisen came back to get two ground balls to end the threat.
Needing to get at least one run to tie, Notre Dame took one positive step when deFau led off the inning with a single deep into the left side hole. After Ciolli flied out to leftfield, deFau stole second base to get in scoring position for Ruthrauff. The Irish first base could not come through, however, as she popped up a 2-1 offering to short stop for the second out. The Irish catcher would step up, however, as Lenn drilled a 2-2 pitch into leftfield for her first RBI of the game and even the score 3-3.
Hartmann grounded out sharply to third base to push the game into the seventh inning.
After an uneventful seventh inning for UIC, the Irish came up in the bottom of the seventh needing one for the victory. The inning started off on the right track when Wicks reached on a throwing error by Aguilar. Wisen moved her to second base with a sacrifice slap hit. Coach Gumpf then called on Gessica Hufnagle to pinch hit for Schoonaert and she drew a four-pitch walk. Schoonaert reentered to run for Hufnagle.
The UIC coaching staff then decided to call on Creese in relief of Aguilar. Irish lead off hitter Stephanie Brown lined the first pitch to Hernandez at third base. She caught the ball, turned and threw out Wicks at second base for a double play to end the inning and push the game into extra innings.
After two quiet innings in the eight and ninth innings, with Creese and Wisen pitching well in relief, the game switched to the international tie breaker rule in the fateful 10th inning.