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Notre Dame shows character with win

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Playing in the home of Siegfried and Roy, it was fitting that the Irish used a little come-from-behind magic at the UNLV Classic this weekend, rallying to wins against Hawaii and No. 8 Nebraska en route to collecting a 4-1 record at the tournament.”Coming back like that isn’t easy,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “The girls just didn’t doubt themselves; they believe they can beat anybody and they proved that this weekend.”Friday, Notre Dame came back from a five-run deficit to beat Hawaii 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning. The team then lost later that night to No. 2 California in a nail-biter, 2-1, despite out-hitting the Golden Bears 7-4.Saturday, the Irish again came back against Nebraska to win 6-4, this time posting two two-run homeruns in the top of the seventh to get the victory. The Irish closed out play Saturday with a 3-1 win over host UNLV. Sunday Notre Dame cruised to a 4-1 victory over Portland State, completing their successful run in the Classic. Despite being the only school from a cold-weather climate, the team more than held its own.”It was great just to get out of the cold weather and play,” Gumpf said. “The girls just played hard all weekend. They didn’t play perfect, but they played tough and believed in each other and in themselves.”Offensively on the weekend, the Irish were paced by juniors Megan Ciolli and Liz Hartmann. Ciolli, one of 40 players selected to the USA Softball Player of the Year watch list, collected a .625 batting average at the tournament. Hartmann sparked the Irish power attack with three homeruns and seven RBI. She hit the game-winning homerun against Nebraska.”Megan’s just a great leader,” Gumpf said of her lead-off hitter. “She knows how to get it done, and then she goes out there and does it. Liz, meanwhile, was just on fire. “The other teams tried to pitch around [Hartmann] and they couldn’t. I bet she’s still giving the Nebraska coach nightmares.”Notre Dame travels to the Palm Springs Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend where they will face five teams – including an exhibition against the U.S. Olympic Team – over three days. The Irish do not open play at home until Mar. 20 against Eastern Michigan.

Notre Dame 8, Hawaii 7Sophomore Kellie Middleton made the most of her first hit of the season, connecting on a two-run walk-off home run that gave the Irish the victory over the Rainbow Warriors.Middleton’s hit closed out a five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, after Notre Dame had allowed Hawaii to tack on two unearned insurance runs in the top of the seventh.Sophomore Heather Booth started for the Irish, scattering seven hits and allowing two earned runs and five total runs in 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Carrie Wisen (1-0) earned the victory after Notre Dame’s rally.