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ND SOFTBALL: Stenglein, Booth pitch shutouts at Villanova

Justin Schuver | Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Rain this weekend didn’t rust the sharpness of the Irish pitchers. Both Steffany Stenglein and Heather Booth threw complete-game shutouts in Notre Dame’s sweep of Villanova Monday afternoon in Philadelphia.

“Both our pitchers did a good job of playing their game,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “Steffany really just dominated their hitters, and Heather did a good job of making them put the ball in play where she wanted. They were both phenomenal today.”

Notre Dame (19-8, 2-0) won game one against the Wildcats, 2-0, behind Stenglein’s dominating 10-strikeout performance. Booth followed with a gem of her own in Notre Dame’s 4-0 win over Villanova (19-13, 0-2) in game two of the doubleheader.

The Irish were paced offensively by second baseman Katie Laing, who had two doubles in game one and had a key home run in game two, finishing the series 3-for-6 with three runs scored.

“Katie really did a good job for us offensively,” Gumpf said. “She was really on fire today, and that was good to see.”

Notre Dame’s offense managed 16 hits off Villanova pitchers, but left too many runners on base, especially in the first game of the series. The Irish left six runners on base with less than two outs in game one, a statistic that concerned Notre Dame’s skipper.

“The first game we didn’t do a good job of taking advantage of our opportunities,” Gumpf said. “The second game it was more a case of their pitcher making good pitches and our team managing a few lucky hits, but in that first game I thought we could have done more.”

Notre Dame jumped on top early in game one, stringing together two runs in the top of the second inning off Villanova starter Kristen Haynes. Laing opened the inning with a double, and Liz Hartmann reached first on an error while Laing moved to third.

Sarah Smith pinch ran for Hartmann, but was called out at first base for leaving the bag too early. Carrie Wisen followed with a single that scored Laing from third to plate Notre Dame’s first run.

Kelsey Wicks pinch ran for Wisen and then proceeded to effectively steal a run – swiping second base cleanly and then attempting to steal third. The throw down to third by Villa-nova catcher Cassie Koenig was wild, and Wicks came home to score on the error.

The Irish tacked on another run in the fourth inning, with Gessica Hufnagle leading off with a double. Hufnagle advanced to third on Laing’s groundout and came around to score on a single by Hartmann.

Laing scored her second run of the game in the sixth inning, again leading off the frame with a double. Laing stole third and then scored to make the score 4-0 after Mallorie Lenn reached first on an error.

In game two, Laing continued her hot hitting, knocking a solo home run to left field off Villanova pitcher Shannon Williams. The Irish would score their only other run in the game in the fifth inning, as Lenn led off with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and came around to score on Sara Schoonaert’s RBI single.

Notre Dame was also scheduled to play Rutgers in a doubleheader Saturday, but that series was rained out. It will be made up if the Irish have not already clinched the Big East title at the end of the regular season.

Notre Dame returns home to face Eastern Michigan in a doubleheader today beginning at 4 p.m. at Ivy Field.