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Softball: Notre Dame dominates opponents in sweeps

Dan Murphy and Jay Fitzpatrick | Monday, April 24, 2006

Notre Dame finished its home Big East schedule on a high note, sweeping both Villanova and Rutgers in weekend doubleheaders.

Irish pitcher Heather Booth dominated the Scarlet Knights in game one, throwing a perfect game in the five-inning win. The perfect game was Booth’s first, as well as her first solo no-hitter in her already illustrious career. The complete game also brought Booth over the 800 inning mark, making her the first Irish pitcher to accomplish this feat in the school’s history.

The Irish were also able to hit the ball hard all weekend, driving in eight runs in three of their games and seven in the fourth.

Notre Dame catcher Mallorie Lenn and third baseman Meagan Ruthrauff had huge days at the plate, each hitting a homerun and driving in multiple runs, and shortstop Sara Schoonaert made a big impact in the field by robbing hitters of what would have been base hits.

Notre Dame 8, Villanova 7

The weekend started in exciting fashion as the Irish (31-13, 13-1 Big East) needed some last-inning heroics to overcome the worst inning in Notre Dame’s recent history for an 8-7 win over Villanova.

Notre Dame entered the bottom of the seventh down two runs. Ruthrauff started the inning with a deep solo shot over the centerfield wall. Then consecutive doubles brought around Notre Dame first baseman Linda Kohan to tie the game as right fielder Carissa Jaquish, the winning run, stood at second.

Two batters later Notre Dame designated player Erin Glasco stepped to the plate and delivered her second game-winning hit of the season. A sharp single through the left side of the infield scored Jaquish easily and the Irish survived Villanova’s scare.

The excitement for Notre Dame came after an explosive Wildcat fifth inning. Villanova piled up seven runs off of six hits against Booth. There were no errors or extra base hits – the entire Wildcats’ lineup got the job done with consistent hitting.

Notre Dame 8, Villanova 3

The second game of the doubleheader was also close for the majority of the game, and once again, Glasco came through with the big hit Notre Dame needed. A two-run home run in the fifth inning put the Irish ahead for good.

The score was tied 3-3 as a fired up Villanova once again looked to be in position to upset the Irish. Two sacrifices scored Wildcats leadoff hitter Cassie Koenig after she started the game with a double to right field.

Notre Dame’s scoring started in the fourth frame with three consecutive bunt hits at the top of the order. Ruthrauff then added two more as she double into left field to take a 3-2 lead.

The advantage did not last long as the Wildcats responded in the fifth as Villanova first basemen Laura Determan singled in the tying run – setting the stage for Glasco’s homer.

The Irish tacked on two more in the fifth and one in the sixth to go ahead 8-3 and freshman Brittany Bargar (8 hits, 7 strikeouts) was able to silence Villanova for the remainder of the game.

Notre Dame 8, Rutgers 0

The Irish started game one strong against Rutgers (12-34, 4-14) behind Booth’s perfect game in five innings of work, including four strikeouts. Booth overpowered Rutgers, using all of her pitches effectively to keep every Scarlet Knight off the basepaths.

“Heather dominated today, making hitters look sick with her changeup,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “She went out and had great command over her pitches today.

Booth’s perfect game was aided by a hardworking defense behind her, including great plays by Kohan and Jaquish.

“The defense played awesome today,” Booth said. “They went out and took away a lot of hits.”

Notre Dame also had a big day at the plate from the start, sending seven batters to the plate in the first and scoring three runs behind a Ruthrauff single and a two-run double by Kohan.

After a quiet second inning, Notre Dame continued the onslaught in the third with two more runs. Kohan knocked in sophomore pinch runner Brittany Glynn with a sacrifice fly while Jaquish poked an RBI single over the shortstop to add another run to the Irish lead.

Notre Dame finished off the five-inning contest with a big final inning, led by back-to-back homeruns by Lenn and Ruthrauff. Kohan followed with a walk and Glasco finished off the win with an RBI double to left center.

“We unloaded on their pitching today,” Booth said. “They tried a lot of different things against us, but no one could control our bats today.”

Notre Dame 7, Rutgers 0

The Irish came out a little slow in the second game, but an explosive five-run fifth inning helped Notre Dame pull well out of reach from the Scarlet Knights and complete the sweep.

Notre Dame batted around in the fifth, starting with a double to the warning track in center by second baseman Katie Laing. Laing’s base hit was followed by a single from Schoonaert and a two-run double to left center by Lenn to give the Irish a 3-0 lead. The Irish were able to knock in three more runs in the inning to secure their eventual 7-0 win.

One important reason for the offensive turnaround for the Irish in the fifth was their ability to make adjustments to Rutgers’ pitching.

“We needed that big rally in the fifth,” Gumpf said. “We had the bases loaded with no outs twice, and we couldn’t have that. We made some good adjustments in the fifth and that really helped out.”

With the sweep, the Irish complete their home Big East schedule, but still have key matchups on the road against Louisville and South Florida to come.

“We aren’t looking to the postseason yet, because we still have a lot of tough parts of the season left,” Booth said. “Louisville and USF are going to be big games that we need to win.”