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ND SOFTBALL:Irish take two from the Eagles

Thomas Barr | Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The Irish were flying high coming into Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Eagles of Eastern Michigan – they had won eight straight, with the last five being shutouts.

That streak continued Tuesday.

Notre Dame pitcher Stef-fany Stenglein extended the team’s scoreless inning streak to 44 in the 1-0 shutout.

The Irish may have been a little fatigued coming into today’s game.

“I was a little worried because we didn’t arrive home from Villanova until 2 a.m., and then the players had to go to classes,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “I am really proud of them.”

Gumpf said she was relatively unaware of the extent of her team’s scoreless streak.

“We focus on the game at hand,” Gumpf said. “Actually, I didn’t realize we had such a long scoreless streak. That’s great; I would credit that to our pitchers getting into a rhythm.”

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Irish surrendered their first runs to opponents since March 24, but still managed to beat the Eagles 7-5.

Stenglein started the second game and earned her second win of the day, improving her record to 9-4.

She also recorded 16 strikeouts in 11 innings.

The Irish are now 21-8 as a result of this month-long streak, which led them from being just below .500 at spring break.

During this streak – in which they have won 16 of 17 games – the Irish have outscored opponents 80-19 and have boosted their team batting average 61 points to .293.

“The improved hitting, that’s obvious,” Gumpf said. “We are making things happen. Two-out hits, clutch hits, making good contact. We knew we had to turn around if we want to compete and go to the [College] World Series. Our hitting was pretty bad in the beginning of the season; we couldn’t help but improve.”

These were only the seventh and eighth times the Eagles (6-12) have played Notre Dame in softball.

The Irish lead the all-time series 7-1.

In the schools’ most recent meeting on March 20 in Columbus, Ohio, Notre Dame defeated the Eagles 4-1. It was the final game leading to the Irish’s first tournament title of the season, the Buckeye Invitational.

Notre Dame will host the Ball State Cardinals (10-23) Thursday at Ivy Field.