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ND SOFTBALL: Notre Dame and Seton Hall split

Justin Schuver | Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Steffany Stenglein showed again why she is a dominant pitcher in the Big East, but the offense couldn’t back her up.

Stenglein pitched nine in-nings and posted a school-re-cord 19 strikeouts while all-owing just three hits, but Notre Dame’s offense couldn’t sol-ve Seton Hall (28-13, 13-3) pitcher Megan Meyer as the Irish (35-10, 11-1) dropped game one of its doubleheader against the Pirates 2-1. The second-place Irish were able to salvage a split with the first-place Pirates, winning game two 11-4.

Game one lived up to its billing as a matchup of the Big East’s most dominant pitchers, with Meyer coming into the game with a 0.95 ERA and a 20-4 record and Stenglein with a 1.14 ERA and a 16-4 mark. Neither team managed much offense against the starters, with the Irish collecting five hits off Meyer.

The difference came in the top of the ninth inning, when D’Arcy Djakalovic got jammed on a pitch and popped the ball just behind first base for a bloop single that scored Katie Pierce from second. Meyer set down the Irish in the bottom of the ninth for the win.

“It was unfortunate for Steffany,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “She really pitched great; I don’t think she could have pitched any better. The first run was a miscommunication, and the second run was a bloop hit.

“We didn’t do a good job of hitting ourselves and taking care of our opportunities to score runs.”

Oddly enough, Pierce also scored the first run of the game, and Djakalovic came up with the RBI, scoring Pierce with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. The ball was popped up into short centerfield, but miscommunication by the Irish outfielders allowed Pierce to easily score on the play.

Notre Dame tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, with Megan Ciolli coming back from an 0-2 count to single up the middle with one out. Meghan Ruthrauff then came through with an RBI double to score Ciolli, and Ruthrauff moved up to third base on the throw home.

But Notre Dame could not bring the winning run home, as Katie Laing flied out to short left field and Liz Hartmann struck out. With the win, Seton Hall increased its winning streak against Notre Dame to five games.

The Pirates’ streak would not continue, as Notre Dame teed off early against Meyer – who started both games Monday – and knocked her out of the game in the second inning. Hartmann came up with the big hit in that inning, knocking home a two-RBI single that scored Nicole Wicks and Kellie Middleton.

The Irish added four more runs in the third inning, including Mallorie Lenn’s first homer of the season, a two-run shot.

Seton Hall scored a run in the fourth to make the score 6-1, and threatened to get back in the game the very next inning.

In the fifth inning, starting pitcher Heather Booth started to falter for the Irish, with a walk and two singles loading the bases. Booth then walked in two straight runs and was replaced by Stenglein. Ste-nglein allowed a bloop RBI to score another Seton Hall run, but kept the Pirates off the board the rest of the way.

“We came back and did much better [in game two], but even then we could have played much better,” Gumpf said. “Heather [Booth] really had trouble finding the zone today, and that’s usually not a problem for her.”

Notre Dame remains at home to take on Northwestern (34-10) in a single-game matchup today at 5 p.m. The 15th-ranked Wildcats – who have won 16 of their last 17 games – were scheduled to take on the Irish in a doubleheader, but the teams agreed to shorten the series to just one game.