Entering his 36th season coaching the Blue Demons, softball head coach Eugene Lenti looks to continue his dominance in the Big East conference. Last year’s regular season title and 16-3 conference record wasn’t enough for the Blue Demons. The goal this season remains to capitalize on those efforts-into a Big East conference title and World Series bid.
DePaul returns three all-conference players Dylan Christensen, Nichole Pihl and Megan Leyva. Bringing back those impact players will help in the quest to repeat as Big East Champions. DePaul is ranked second in the Big East preseason Coaches’ Poll and Lenti feels the team has something to prove after being slighted, coming off a regular season title.
“We’re the best team in the Big East,” Lenti said. “We’re the defending Big East regular season champions and until someone takes that away from us we’re the best. I don’t care what the polls or the coaches think, no one has accomplished what we have.”
The Blue Demons lineup has been well-rounded, which has led to success, winning two of the last three Big East regular season titles. Playing consistently will be tough, but the focus for the coaching staff in the offseason was to bolster the pitching rotation. Lenti did just that—adding four new pitchers—including two battle-tested transfer pitchers.
Only having two pitchers late in the season handicapped the Blue Demons. Championship teams, who go deep in the college World Series, usually have a five-pitcher rotation. Adding four pitchers this offseason, Lenti anticipates will have huge dividends come conference and postseason time.
“We needed to improve more on the depth of our pitching,” Lenti said. “We solidified just that and have more options. We can present two or three different pitchers during a game, rather than just one for a complete game.”
Transfers Kayla Landwehrmier and Kennedy Garcia bring a plethora of experience and maturity that will help groom the incoming freshman.
Landwehrmier transferring from Ole Miss brings a well-rounded resume to the Demons, after competing in two seasons of SEC softball—arguably the best conference in NCAA competition. She also brings a wonderful drop-ball and solid change-up, that will help in confusing hitters in the Big East.
“Coming to DePaul, I expect our team will win it all,” Landwehrmier said. “There is no doubt in my mind that this group of girls we have can win the Big East tournament and make the postseason. I’m going to do everything for my team to get us where we need to be. I’m playing for the 18 girls beside me.”
Garcia adds another big arm for the Demons. She comes off two historic seasons at Phoenix College in Arizona. During her career, she’s notched 30-plus wins in two seasons and earned MVP honors during her sophomore campaign at Phoenix College. Also, Garcia lead the Phoenix College Bears to a fourth-place finish in the 2016 NJCAA D-II Championships.
“Being here it pushes me to work harder,” Garcia added. “We go live every day and we have talented and relentless hitters. This team is amazing and I’m going to do everything to take this team as far as I can.”
The Blue Demons kick-off the season with two big non-conference openers against Ball State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we’ll win it all this year,” Lenti confidently said. “I’ll be surprised if someone comes close, that’s how much I believe in this team.”