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Irish capture Hoosier Classic with 3 wins at IU

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, March 29, 2004

When Irish coach Deanna Gumpf and Western Kentucky coach Leslie Phelan decided not to play the championship game of the Hoosier Classic, no one was too upset.

“We were definitely happy to come home,” Irish left fielder Nicole deFau said.

Notre Dame (23-9) came home after winning the Hoosier Classic because they beat Western Kentucky (21-8) earlier Sunday morning.

The tournament started Saturday morning when the Irish faced off against Saint Louis (9-21). Notre Dame was led by Meagan Ruthrauff who hit her sixth home run of the year, a three-run bomb to put the Irish ahead 3-0 in the fifth. She drove in Stephanie Brown, who singled to leftfield, and deFau, who was hit by a pitch.

After the Billikens tied it up, Liz Hartmann hit a solo homer in the sixth to put the Irish ahead for good 4-3.

Pitcher Steffany Stenglein earned the win for Notre Dame, her fourth in a row and eighth of the season. She gave up just three hits, while striking out eight. But it was a team effort for the Irish.

“We did a good job hitting the ball,” deFau said. “Our pitchers really did a good job shutting the teams down.”

Later Saturday, Notre Dame went head-to-head with the tournament host, Indiana (17-17).

Heather Booth, who pitched the Irish to a win, led the Irish in the contest. She gave up just two hits, and despite only striking out one, allowed no runs. The Irish defense supported her the entire game.

“Defensively, we’ve been playing very well,” deFau said.

Meanwhile, the Hoosiers were getting little support from their defense. After a Ruthrauff home run in the second, Notre Dame hit safely just two times over the next four innings.

But in the top of the seventh, the Irish broke it open. Sara Schoonaert earned a leadoff walk and Nicole Wicks bunted her to second. Brown then struck out, but reached on a dropped third strike, on which Schoonaert moved to third. DeFau drew a walk, and Megan Ciolli nailed a single, scoring both runners, to put the Irish up 4-0.

After two games Saturday, the Irish were back in action bright and early Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. when they faced the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

This game proved to be a duel between Booth and Western Kentucky’s Adrienne Lathrop. Booth struck out 10, her fourth time in double digit strikeout totals this season.

Notre Dame took the lead in the fourth inning on a Ciolli solo home run. The Irish added to the lead in the sixth when deFau hit a double to the right-centerfield gap and scored on a Ruthrauff double.

But Western Kentucky came up in the bottom of the seventh with a rally that almost tied the game. After a one-out double and a walk, the tying run was at first. A ground ball to Schoonaert allowed one run to score as her throw was wide, but that was all Western Kentucky would get.

Booth stepped up and struck out the last batter to end the game.

The win catapulted the Irish into the championship game. However, since they would have to play Western Kentucky again, and because the game wouldn’t have started until around 4:30 p.m., the teams decided not to play the game.

“We were definitely happy to come home,” deFau said.

The Irish returned with a tournament championship, after winning some close games.

“They weren’t the prettiest wins, but the bottom line is we scored more runs,” deFau said. “We got the job done.”