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Hartmann leads the Irish against Purdue

Heather VanHoegarden | Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Ever since returning home after a spring break road trip, the Irish have hit their stride, winning 11 of their last 12 games.

Now, Purdue (22-12, 0-2 Big Ten) comes to town today to face red-hot Notre Dame (28-10, 4-0 in the Big East) in a non-conference match up.

“In order for us to win we have to go out there and play the way we are,” third baseman Liz Hartmann said. “We have to dominate and show them that this is our home field and not let them hang around with us.”

Hartmann has been one of the keys to the Irish recent success. In the last 10 games, she has a .429 average (12-for-28), including four doubles, two home runs and five RBIs.

“[The key is] getting into the rhythm, feeling the flow of the game,” Hartmann said.

“I’m feeding off other girls, and we are always trying to spark each other.”

Another hot Irish player is pitcher Steffany Stenglein. Stenglein earned her second straight Big East Pitcher of the Week award Monday after winning three games last week, including two in Big East play. The junior gave up just one earned run in 19 innings last week, good for a 0.37 ERA. In Big East play, she struck out 13 in 12 innings, while walking just one batter.

Also pitching well for Notre Dame has been Heather Booth. Booth is second in the Big East with a 1.13 ERA.

“[Stenglein and Booth] are very key because April is huge and having two pitchers that strong and having two relievers that’s very key for our team,” Hartmann said. “Going into the postseason having both throwing very well is key for our team.”

Offensively, Hartmann has been joined by Meagan Ruthrauff, who leads the Big East in on-base percentage (.468). Ruthrauff also has led the Irish in RBIs over the last ten games, with 16. She batted .379 in that period as well.

For the Irish, their success has been due to consistency.

“[The key] is the complete game we’ve played – the hitting, the pitching, the defense,” Hartmann said. “One of the things we stress the most is consistency.”

But when Purdue comes to town, they will be without Andrea Hillsey (.280, 18 RBI, 11 stolen bases), who suffered a knee injury and is out for the year. Meanwhile, Tricia Lilley leads the Boilermakers with a .389 average and 24 RBI. On the mound, Brooke Baker leads the way with a 1.67 ERA and a 13-3 record.

Purdue has a winning record at Ivy Field, where they are 3-2. Two years ago, they came to Notre Dame and lost 4-2, but the Irish hope that this year will be different.

“We learned from a lot of our mistakes in the preseason,” Hartmann said.

Today’s doubleheader is set to start at 4 p.m.