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Irish claim one win at Palm Springs

Heather VanHoegarden | Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The weekend looked quite promising Friday afternoon, but after a little rain and a rude awakening, Notre Dame (5-3) left the Palm Springs Classic with just one win.The Irish faced Utah, Pacific, No. 8 Stanford and the United States Olympic team in the tournament. Their last game against No. 12 Tennessee was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Notre Dame 4, Utah 3Heather Booth pitched her second straight complete game, as the Irish jumped out to a 4-1 lead and never looked back. “We were really aggressive at the beginning of the game, and that helped us jump on the board early,” freshman Kenya Fuemmeler said. “It gave us insurance runs for later.”Every run was needed, as Utah hit a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the seventh to get within one. But Booth got the next hitter to pop out to end the game. Megan Ciolli led the Irish with two hits and one run, while Stephanie Brown went 1-1 with one RBI.

Pacific 12, Notre Dame 1The Irish couldn’t overcome an 84-minute rain delay and came out flat in the fourth inning after holding Pacific scoreless through three. “The weather played a huge factor,” Fuemmeler said. “We started a little flat. It was a lack of focus after the rain delay.”Pacific tallied 12 runs in just two innings to spell doom for the Irish, who only managed one hit. Nicole deFau broke up the no-hitter in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single. But despite the loss, Notre Dame didn’t hang their heads.”It might have been a good loss, because we don’t want it to happen again,” Fuemmeler said. “It was more of a learning experience.”

No. 8 Stanford 4, Notre Dame 2After putting themselves in a 3-0 hole, the Irish bounced back to almost steal the game from the Cardinal. But two errors and the early deficit were too much for a Notre Dame team that left eight runners on base, despite outhitting Stanford 7-4.”We would have won the game if we played the game defensively,” Fuemmeler said. “It should have been a 2-1 game,” she said.In a game that included a home run robbing catch by deFau, the Irish scored their only runs in the top of the sixth when pinch runner Nicole Wicks scored on Kellie Middleton’s sacrifice fly. Pinch runner Gessica Hufnagle then scored after Stanford tried to catch her at third but instead overthrew the ball into left field. But that was all the scoring Notre Dame could manage in a disappointing loss.”We hit very well,” Fuemmeler said. “We just weren’t able to cash in on runs.”

USA Olympic Team 10, Notre Dame 0 (exhibition)In what Fuemmeler called “the experience of a lifetime,” the Irish met the best softball players in the nation in an exhibition matchup. After holding the Olympians to one run on four hits, pitcher Steffany Stenglein was relieved after three innings. Booth pitched the next two innings, giving up four runs.But the Irish offense only managed two hits, both by Sara Schoonaert, who singled in the first and fourth innings.The Irish fell victim to Lisa Fernandez’s grand slam in the sixth inning to end the game.

No. 12 Tennessee vs. Notre Dame, rain outNeither team played the final game of the weekend as a result of the inclement weather. But after playing the Olympic team, the Irish were ready to go home. The team hopes to carry the early season momentum from five wins in eight games onto the upcoming weekend.”We were very disappointed,” Fuemmeler said. “We felt like we had gained momentum and thought that we could prove ourselves against a ranked team.”