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Irish sweep Friars, stay undefeated in Big East

Justin Schuver | Monday, April 19, 2004

For Notre Dame’s Big East opponents this year, it’s been a matter of pick your poison – pitching or hitting. The Irish needed both Sunday as they swept Providence by scores of 1-0 and 7-1 at Ivy Field.

“That first game we didn’t hit the ball really well,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “We hit a lot of pop-ups and groundballs and didn’t get those hard line drives we want.

“Their pitcher threw a lot of change-ups, and I think we finally adjusted some in the second game. We sat back and waited for our pitches and were able to get some hits.”

The wins over the Friars (25-15-1, 5-7 in the Big East) were the seventh and eighth conference victories so far for the Irish (34-13, 8-0). No other team in the conference has fewer than three Big East losses.

“The girls take the Big East very seriously,” Gumpf said. “But all the other teams in the league have played more games than we have this season, so there’s still quite a ways to go.

“Now matter how we do during the 60 or so games we play each season, I know that the girls want to win the Big East most of all. That’s what we want, and that’s what we play for.”

The Irish needed Heather Booth to come up big in game one, and she delivered, outdueling Providence’s Cori Van Dusen to pick up her 17th win of the season. Booth allowed three hits and struck out five in seven innings to earn the complete-game victory.

Steffany Stenglein pitched equally well in game two, although her performance was overshadowed somewhat by Notre Dame’s offensive explosion. Stenglein only allowed two hits, but one of those was a solo home run to Van Dusen.

It was the first earned run in conference play that Stenglein has allowed this year.

“Providence is a good hitting team,” Gumpf said. “They’re very similar to Illinois-Chicago, and I think you have to give a lot of credit to Heather and Steffany for shutting them down.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Sara Schoonaert went 4-for-6 in the two games with four RBIs, including the game-winning single in game one. Schoonaert was a home run short of hitting for the cycle in game two and drove in three RBIs including the game-winner in that victory.

“She hit out of her shoes today,” Gumpf said of Schoonaert. “She’s the kind of person who really loves this game, and she always keeps fighting out there.

“It’s good to see because that’s what she’s capable of, and I’m excited to see what she does the rest of the season now.”

Megan Ciolli continued her impressive offensive year, going 5-for-7 on the weekend.

In game one, Notre Dame roughed up Van Dusen for six hits and collected four walks against the Friars’ pitcher, but could not get the clutch hit necessary to break the game open until the bottom of the sixth.

Mallorie Lenn began the inning with a single and was replaced at first base by Stenglein to pinch run. Liz Hartmann and Nicole Wicks drew consecutive walks to load the bases.

Schoonaert came through with a hard-hit ball to center. Wicks was thrown out trying to score from second on the play, after Hartmann scored from third.

In game two, Providence again started Van Dusen. Once again, she stymied the Irish offense for much of the game, until a five-run, fifth-inning broke open what was a 2-1 Notre Dame lead.

The Irish struck first in game two, scoring the first two runs in the bottom of the second. Schoonaert collected with an RBI double and then came home by taking advantage of two consecutive Friar errors. Van Dusen followed in the third with her solo shot to cut the Irish lead to one.

Notre Dame then exploded in the fifth, as Nicole deFau led off the inning with a double, and Ciolli followed with an RBI single to score deFau.

Lenn singled to center to score Ciolli. Hartmann was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, and Wicks followed with an RBI double.

At this point, Providence replaced Van Dusen with Sara Surosky, and Jaquish answered the pitching change with a groundball back to the pitcher. Surosky looked toward third and then tried to get Jaquish at first, but she was too slow on the throw and all runners were safe to load the bases.

Schoonaert closed out the scoring with a two-RBI single up the middle.

Notre Dame will be going on the road Tuesday to face Northwestern in a non-conference doubleheader.