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ND SOFTBALL: Irish sweep Panthers for 13th win in a row

Ryan Duffy | Monday, April 11, 2005

Although most teams wouldn’t like to be associated with the bad luck of the number 13, the Irish are more than content to have a 13-game win streak that has been built on skill, not luck. Behind dominant pitching and an impressive hitting display that pounded out a fitting 13 runs, Notre Dame took both games of its doubleheader against Pittsburgh Saturday to move to 24-8 on the year and a perfect 4-0 in the Big East. The Irish defeated the Panthers 7-2 in the first game, and then completed the sweep with a 6-0 shutout in game two.”This was a much better Pitt team than usual, so I was a little worried going in, but we hit well,” coach Deanna Gumpf said. “We had some clutch hitting, some two-out hitting, and some players going deep. We scored a lot of runs in a lot of different ways.”The Notre Dame offense recorded 23 hits on its way to a big day on offense that continues the team’s hot hitting. They were led by freshman Katie Laing, who had three hits and four RBIs, including a solo home run that helped start the Irish scoring rally in the first game.”Katie’s really stepped up a lot this year,” Gumpf said. “She’s been a nice addition to the lineup. She’s small, but she adds some pop. She came in and has been great for the team.”After getting off to a slow start this season, the Notre Dame offense has heated up faster than the South Bend weather in recent weeks, and continues to pound opposing pitching and put runs on the scoreboard.”A lot of the improvement on offense is just getting into a rhythm; I think our girls are getting more confident,” Gumpf said. “They’re starting to figure out what’s working for them. When we’re hitting the ball like we did against Pitt, it makes everything easier. And when they’re hitting the ball, this team is a lot of fun to watch play.”While Notre Dame’s offense beat up on Pittsburgh, the starting pitching continued to be nearly unhittable. Both senior Steffany Stenglein and junior Heather Booth struck out 12 Panthers in complete game victories, allowing only six hits and two runs between them for the doubleheader.Stenglein scattered four hits through seven innings, and was in total control until the bottom of the seventh, when she allowed a two-run homer to spoil her chance at a shutout. She posted a double-digit strikeout game for the fifth time in her last six starts.”Stenglein was just untouchable up until the seventh, and then she left one up there for them to hit,” Gumpf said. “With the exception of that one pitch, she pitched a great game.”Booth turned in a similar performance in the second game, giving up only two hits on her way to a complete game shutout. Her 12-strikeout performance tied a career high, and included two clutch strikeouts with the bases loaded and no outs.”Heather showed some guts in that second game,” Gumpf said. “She had the bases loaded with no outs, and she shut down Pittsburgh’s No. 4 and 5 hitters – just made them look silly.”With their starting pitching overpowering opponents and the offense starting to click, the Irish will look to extend their 13-game win streak when they take on Purdue in a doubleheader on Tuesday. “Winning streaks are great, but the main thing this team needs to focus on is one game at a time,” Gumpf said. “Take it one pitch, one hit, one inning and one game at a time.”