Irish blast Pitt for 2 wins, 6 homers
By AARON RONSHEIM
After two weeks of not playing due to inclement weather, the Irish softball team started their Big East schedule with a bang.
The Irish slammed six home runs in their two wins over Pittsburgh en route to victories of 13-1 and 9-2. The Irish continued their offensive fireworks when they defeated Loyola 8-0 on Monday.
"They have worked real hard the past few months, and now they are letting the hard work pay off," head coach Deanna Gumpf said.
All-American catcher Jarrah Myers set the tone for the Irish during the weekend. Myers was 7-of-10 with two home runs and eight RBIs.
"Jarrah is in the zone," Gumpf said. "She is on fire, and I don't see that changing too soon."
"I think I finally found a rhythm. I was doing something wrong mechanically and I fixed it over spring break," Myers said. "It is a lot easier to hit well when the whole team is hitting. Everybody clicked together this weekend. It wasn't just me."
The Irish scored a season-high 13 runs in the first game of the doubleheader.
Myers and fellow captain Jenny Kriech ignited the Irish offense as each hit a two-run homerun in the third and fourth innings to give the Irish a 4-0 lead.
"Jarrah and Jenny are both great players," said Gumpf. "They are both hitting the ball well right now. That's what happens when you are a great player, you step up when you need to, and that's what they're doing."
The Irish offense came alive in the sixth inning, scoring nine runs on eight hits to give the Irish a 13-1 win. Steffany Stenglein pitched five innings for the victory and evened her record at 8-8.
In the second half of the doubleheader, the Panthers jumped out to a quick lead behind Kelly Hulpa's two-run blast in the bottom of the first.
That lead would not last long as the Irish continued their barrage of homeruns. In the top of the second, Andria Bledsoe launched her third home run of the year to cut the Panthers lead in half. In the third inning Andrea Loman, Notre Dame's most consistent hitter this spring, sent a 3-2 pitch into the bleachers for a three-run homerun to give the Irish a 4-2 lead.Jarrah Myers added her second round-tripper of the day to give Irish a commanding 5-2 advantage.
Freshman Carrie Wisen pitched five scoreless innings in relief to get the win.
The Irish carried their hot bats into Chicago against Loyola on Monday.
Kriech started the Irish scoring against the Ramblers with a RBI single in the top of the second for a 1-0 lead. After adding another run in the third, the Irish busted the game wide-open with five runs in the fourth inning.
Wisen again picked up the victory in relief and improved her record to 3-4.
As impressive as the Irish offense was this weekend, the Irish pitching staff held their own by only giving up three runs over 16 innings of work.
"All three pitchers did an excellent job," Myers said. "They were getting ahead of the hitters and were able to throw their pitches."
The Irish are 11-12 after this weekend and 2-0 in Big East play.
The Irish had a doubleheader against Valparaiso postponed until April 9 because of rainy weather. On Thursday, the Irish hope the weather will allow them to play their home opener against Illinois-Chicago.
"We're in the mood right now where we really want to play," Myers said.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, April 3, 2002