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ND SOFTBALL: Team turns around over break

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Maybe it wasn’t exactly a cruise or a week in a sunny tropical paradise, but far from the frozen tundra of South Bend, spring has sprung, and the Irish bats have thawed.

The team heated up while in the tropics for the Hawaii Invitational Wednesday through Friday last week. The team went 4-0 before the tournament was called Saturday due to inclement weather. The Irish were declared tournament champions, netting them their second tournament championship this season.

“We knew what we had to do to win,” pitcher Steffany Steinglem said. “We knew if we played our game, we could beat any team.”

While in Hawaii, Notre Dame beat Campbell 6-1, Hawaii 9-1, Virginia 3-1 and Nevada 7-1. In the first two games, the Irish outhit their opponents a combined 25 hits to five.

Notre Dame would end up with 45 total hits in its four victories, boosting its season average 36 points to a respectable .268. The team put up 25 runs in four games at the tournament, nearly doubling their season output of 27 in the previous 14 games.

Going into spring break, the Irish seemed uncertain where their season was headed. The team had been inconsistent, losing to low-ranked opponents while defeating more highly-touted foes such as No. 5 Tennessee.

The team’s batting average was an unimpressive .232 – nearly 40 points off last year’s mark, and the team’s winning percentage was hovering just below .500.

Going into a three-game west coast road trip followed immediately by the Hawaii Invitational, the Irish realized they had an important opportunity to get their season back on the right track.

Sophomore catcher Gessica Hufnagle credits captain Megan Ciolli, who implored the team to “come ready to play and play no matter what,” with motivating the team.

When asked about the cause of the turnaround, the answers among players were very positive. Steinglem credited the recent success to a combination of positive attitude, good all around fielding -especially in the infield – and an explosion of hitting.

The Irish are back in South Bend for the week preparing for a four-team tournament this weekend at Ohio State. There is a clear change in attitude amongst the players, and they feel the momentum has shifted.

“We are feeling great and hoping to continue this roll we are on”, said catcher Mallorie Lenn. “We played together as a team and fed off one another. That is what will keep us going.”

Notre Dame 1,

UC Santa Barbara 0

The Irish left California on a positive note before they headed to Hawaii. Heather Booth shut out California-Santa Barbara 1-0 March 7 and chalked her fifth win of the season with a little help from the base-running heroics of Kellie Middleton, who recorded two stolen bases and the game winning run.

Notre Dame 1-1 against Loyola Marymount

The defeat of UCSB came on the heels of a double header the Irish played against Loyola Marymount March 6. The Irish were able to eke out a 2-1 victory on the arm of Booth in the first game – avenging a 7-0 defeat from earlier in the season. In the second game, the Lions offense roared back to life, shutting out the Irish 5-0.