It was a sunny but windy day at Cacciatore Stadium as the DePaul Blue Demons (26- 21, 11-7 Big East) started their final series of games before the Big East tournament with a double header against the Creighton Blue Jays (18-31, 8-12 Big East). Both teams had been riding recent losing streak as Creighton lost six in a row and DePaul was coming off being swept by Villanova.
Despite the recent lack of success, DePaul was in a better situation in terms of making the Big East tournament, needing just one win to clinch a seed. Meanwhile, Creighton needed to win out and a few favorable wins from other teams. Game one started off as a defensive matchup.
Pitchers Bryana Clark for Creighton and DePaul’s Kennedy Garcia had a battle going for three innings until Clark finally gave up the first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Unfortunately for her, it was also a solo home run from Nicole Pihl, her DePaul-leading fourteenth of the season.
Head coach Eugene Lenti credited this lead off hit with kicking off the momentum that would carry on for the rest of the day for DePaul.
“We had a conversation earlier today when we were hitting. [Pihl] goes, ‘Do you think the wind is blowing in or out?’ and I said it’s going in and she was like ‘Aww’ and I was like, ‘Nicole there’s no wind that can hold you…and she proved that today,” Lenti said. “And I think once we got the one everyone just took a big sigh of relief and said let’s hit the ball.”
DePaul would score another run that inning and then add six more in the fifth, despite a change of pitchers from Creighton, to close the game out 8-0 in five. The momentum kept on going as DePaul would score one in the first followed by six in the next two. The game finished at 13-0 in four and a half innings.
This game featured a huge performance from catcher Jessica Cothern, who hit a solo home run as well as a two RBI double. Cothern said she was focused on one thing for game two.
“Just gotta hit the ball and get it in a hole and keep the momentum going. That’s a big thing with our team is momentum and keeping everybody up and positive,” Cothern said. It is not always easy to stay positive when faced with challenges like the sweep by Villanova, the top seed in the East, but this was two big bounce back wins for DePaul. Cothern said she was glad they could do it in front of the home crowd.
“It was really good today and especially for all of our parents and everybody here it was super awesome to just get it for everyone,” Cothern said.
More importantly the wins gave the Demons a guaranteed ticket to the Big East tournament that begins next week. Lenti made sure he was not celebrating too much after the wins.
“It’s always something we strive for. We always want to win the Big East, regular season, post-season, tournament, get to the NCAA tournament…so this is one step, one goal, we’ve got plenty left to do though,” Lenti said.
Cothern had a much simpler answer. “I’m so proud of my team for doing it,” Cothern said. “It feels really good.”