As soon as Seton Hall senior pitcher Danielle DeStaso crushed a ball over the centerfield fence in the top of the fifth, it took most everything away from DePaul: the lead, the momentum and, eventually, the game as DePaul fell to Seton Hall 9-5 in the Big East semifinals.
“Obviously we didn’t pitch well today,” associate head coach Lindsay Chouinard said. “We needed to pitch to be successful, so we’re disappointed.”
DePaul head coach Eugene Lenti declined to comment after the game.
It looked like the Blue Demons would not need to worry about pitching after the first inning. Senior pitcher Mary Connolly sent the Pirates down scoreless in the first two innings while DePaul grabbed a quick lead. Seniors Brittany Boesel and Ali Lenti each had a sacrifice fly to bring in a run each.
The Pirates struck right back in the top of the third with two singles by junior Yasmin Harrell and DeStaso to make it a 2-2 game. DePaul, however, was back on top in the bottom half of the frame with two runs scored to make it a 4-2 game. The Blue Demons extended their lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth when junior Morgan Maize beat out an infield single with two outs to score sophomore Dylan Christensen from third. This was Maize’s second hit on the day.
Despite the offense in the first four innings, it all went wrong for DePaul in the fifth. Connolly got in trouble in the top of the inning, quickly loading the bases with no outs. This brought in sophomore Maxine Rodriguez, who got a force out with her first batter, but that brought in a run to make it 5-3.
The next batter was DeStaso and she became the game-changer. She crushed a pitch to center field for a three-run home run to give Seton Hall a 6-5 lead. Rodriguez finished off the rest of the side, but the damage had been done.
The Pirates continued to pile it on in the top of the sixth. Freshman Alexis Walkden hit an RBI single with one out to bring in Harrell, then Connolly, who moved back to the pitching rubber for the sixth, uncorked a wild pitch and brought in another run to make it 8-5. A single a couple of pitches later brought in Walkden to make it a 9-5 Pirate lead.
DePaul was unable to score for the rest of the game, going down quietly in the sixth and seventh innings as their 2015 campaign came to an end.
“Obviously it’s a very offensive game, you can see from scores around the country,” Chouinard said. “You’ve got to score a lot of runs to win the game and we didn’t score as many as we would’ve liked to.”
The Blue Demons, who had come off a 2014 season in which they won the Big East title and made the NCAA regional finals before losing to Kentucky, dropped off significantly in 2015. They finished 22- 24 overall on the year, although they did have success in the Big East as they went 13-4 and earned the second seed in the Big East tournament. Their loss in the Big East tournmanent, combined with their overall losing record, meant that their season came to end against Seton Hall.
“That’s how the ball rolls and we hope it’s a learning experience for the returners who are coming back next year and hopefully it drives them to work harder,” Chouinard said.