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ND SOFTBALL: Solid pitching sparks 1-0 shutout of Akron

Ryan Duffy | Friday, April 22, 2005

After seeing its 19-game win streak finally end, Notre Dame decided to respond in the most logical way it knew how – start a new one.

Behind strong pitching and clutch hitting, the Irish took both games of Thursday’s doubleheader against Akron (20-21) in their return home after nine straight away games.

After earning Big East Player of the Week honors for her dominant performance last week, senior starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein was rested for game one, allowing junior Heather Booth to take the mound. Booth did not disappoint, leading the Irish to a 1-0 win while turning in a magnificent complete game one-hit shutout, including 11 strikeouts and only two walks. The win moves Booth to 15-5 on the year.

Unfortunately for the Irish offense, Booth’s dominating game was matched pitch for pitch by Akron’s Tina McCauley. McCauley gave up only four hits for the game, but Notre Dame managed to get their hits in key spots. With two outs in the third inning, senior Megan Ciolli drove in sophomore Stephanie Brown to give the Irish their lone run of the game. The run proved to be enough, and put Notre Dame back in the win column.

In game two, the Irish offense looked much more confident against Akron pitching. Brown started the Notre Dame rally in the bottom of the second by blasting the first pitch she saw over the centerfield wall for a solo homer. Junior Katie Middleton then got on with an infield single, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error. Junior Meagan Ruthrauff’s RBI single brought her home and gave the Irish a 2-0 lead.

After Booth started game two with a perfect first inning, coach Deanna Gumpf inserted Stenglein for the next three innings to keep her sharp for this weekend’s Big East conference games. Stenglein struck out five batters before turning the ball over to Kenya Fuemmeler, who was making only her fourth appearance for the season. After facing a bases-loaded jam with no outs, Fuemmeler answered with a strikeout and a fielder’s choice, and appeared to be out of the inning. However, Fuemmeler could not finish the inning, giving up a single to left, and two runs scored to tie the game.