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No. 23 Irish struggle during spring break invitationals

Heather VanHoegarden | Tuesday, March 16, 2004

After winning the NFCA Silver Bracket Championship, the Irish forgot their bats at home when they traveled to Florida for the Florida Atlantic/Worth Invitational March 6. Notre Dame’s struggles came after they broke into top-25 for the first time this season at No. 23.Florida International 2, Notre Dame 1The Irish were only able to manage five hits against the Golden Panthers (5-13). The Irish were up 1-0 when Nicole deFau singled, stole second and moved to third on an error. She stole home when Meagan Ruthrauff, who drew a walk, stole second. The lead didn’t last, as Heather Booth surrendered three straight two-out singles.Massachusetts 4, Notre Dame 2In the second game of the day, the Minutewomen (5-7) were able to take advantage of three Irish errors, despite being outhit 8-4 by Notre Dame. The Irish tried to rally when Megan Ciolli had an RBI single in the sixth, and was then knocked home by Nicole Wicks, but Mallorie Lenn flied to right to end the inning and Irish hopes.Notre Dame 2, North Carolina 0The Irish were able to oust the Tar Heels (12-9) behind Liz Hartmann and Steffany Stenglein. Hartmann shook off flu-like symptoms to go 2-for-3 with the game-winning RBI. Meanwhile, Stenglein managed to pitch her first complete game shutout of the year, striking out six and walking just two.Notre Dame 2, Florida Atlantic 0Home-field advantage was not enough to propel the Owls, as Booth pitched a complete game one-hitter, the second shutout of the day for the Irish. She retired 21 of 22 batters she faced, striking out seven. Offensively, Lenn exploded with an RBI double, and Sara Schoonaert hit a RBI single to score the only runs for the Irish. Wicks scored both Notre Dame runs to go along with her two hits.No. 4 Florida State 4, Notre Dame 3 (10 innings)The Irish almost pulled off the extra-inning upset of the Seminoles (23-3), after battling back from a 2-0 deficit to go ahead 3-2 in the third inning. Booth pitched a gem once again for Notre Dame, going 10 innings with 12 strikeouts, a career high. Kim Hoffer’s had the game-winning single for Florida State.No. 11 Michigan 3, Notre Dame 0For the second game in a row, the Irish fell to a top-15 team, as they were no-hit by Michigan’s Jennie Ritter. She struck out nine hitters, and was a hit-by-pitch away from a perfect game for the Wolverines (13-5). Notre Dame 3, Troy State 1Booth once again led the Irish with her arm, throwing a complete game and striking out 12. She only gave up three hits against the Lady Trojans (14-13). Offensively, Stephanie Brown was 3-for-4 with her fourth home run, andRuthrauff was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Notre Dame 3, Georgia State 2 (8 innings)Hartmann drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to lead the Irish to an extra-inning win over the Panthers (6-8). Ciolli scored the winning run after being placed at second base per the international tiebreaker rule. Carrie Wisen pitched well in relief for the Irish, shutting down Georgia State with nine strikeouts and no hits in 5 1/3 innings.Notre Dame 6, Maryland 2Irish bats came to play, as the Irish offense pounded 11 team hits. Ruthrauff started things off with a three-run home run in the third inning, while Stephanie Brown was 4-for-4 with two runs. Ciolli, meanwhile, was perfect at the plate with four hits and three runs scored. Hartmann added the other three Irish RBI. Texas A&M 2, Notre Dame 1The Irish could not sustain their offensive power, managing just two hits against the Aggies (17-11). Stenglein pitched a solid game, giving up a solo homer and a run on a passed ball in the first, and settling down to allow just six hits the rest of the way.Notre Dame 1, Penn State 0In the first round of single elimination, the Irish squeaked by the Nittany Lions (9-16) in a pitchers’ duel in which Booth came out on top. Offensively, the Irish were led by Ruthrauff, who scored the only Irish run on a double steal.Notre Dame 8, Florida A&M 0In Sunday’s second game, the Irish (17-9) dominated, registering eight runs on eight hits in five innings. Ciolli, Ruthrauff and Lenn each had a pair of RBI, while Brown posted two runs scored. Stenglein pitched a one hitter to earn her fifth victory of the season.Notes: u Ruthrauff and Booth were named to the FSU Invitational All-Tournament team. Ruthrauff was 6-for-16 (.375), while Booth was 3-0 with only eight hits allowed.