Five up, five down

Trio of shutouts sets DePaul off to 5-0 start to season


DePaul improved to 20-2 in 2018 when it scores first. (Photo courtesy of Konrad Markowski | The DePaulia)

Amber Colón, Editor-in-chief

The 2018 softball season has begun on a high note, with the Blue Demons finishing 5-0 at the Total Control Sports Invitational on Sunday at the Dome in Rosemont.

With plans to beat a snowy commute to the ballpark on Friday morning, the team stayed in Rosemont on Thursday night. They rang in the three-day tournament with a lot of luck on their side: most of their practices before the tournament were indoors, an advantage most of the other teams in the tournament did not have.

“We’re really well prepared, (and) we know the venue really well, so we feel like we have a little bit of an edge,” said coach Eugene Lenti ahead of the tournament. “But, you know, we still have to go out and play the games.”

Now in her senior year, shortstop Haydn Christensen said that one of her first goals was finishing up this season’s first weekend with a 5-0 record.

Over the last four years in the program, Christensen has been a part of a lot of different accomplishments. She said that her hopes for this year are to win both Conference and the Big East Championship.

But going into this weekend, her focus was steady.

“The only person that’s going to beat us is us,” Christensen said ahead of the tournament.

The Blue Demons used 10 hits to drive in a total of nine runs for the season’s first two games against IUPUI.

A home run by Jessica Cothern gave the Blue Demons a 4-0 lead over IUPUI in game one. The girls finished 5-2, allowing freshman Pat Moore her first collegiate victory.

In opening day’s game number two, in the first two innings went by before either team scored. Alysia Rodriguez snatched up two RBIs, one via a home run to right field and the other a single, giving the Blue Demons a 4-0 lead against Wright State.

Missy Zoch pitched a shutout win against Wright State on Friday, improving the team’s record to 2-0.

On Saturday, the Blue Demons played against Eastern Kentucky. Outfielder Angela Scalzitti led DePaul with a 4-for-4 day at the plate, while Zoch picked up her second consecutive shutout.  The pitcher allowed only two hits by the Colonels.

The Blue Demons swept the competition on Saturday by finishing up the second day with another game against Wright State.

To wrap up the tournament, sophomore pitcher Missy Zoch threw a no-hitter against Northern Colorado (2-0) on Sunday, wrapping up the team’s first weekend on a positive note.

Next up, Blue Demons will be playing in the Cougar Classic in Mount Pleasant, S.C., hosted by College of Charleston next weekend from Feb. 15-17. That Saturday they will face neighboring Northern Illinois University at 9 a.m. CST.

Pitcher-catcher duo Zoch Cothern are both in their second years with DePaul softball. Both breakout stars as freshmen, the duo are continuing to work together throughout the 2018 season in the hopes of bringing home several wins.

“Last year, I feel like we all came in with high hopes,” Cothern said. “Proving ourselves on the field and being allowed to be on the field as a freshman is a huge deal, so you wanna step up and show that you’re meant to be there.”

Zoch’s Sunday win in the center circle started her 2018 season on the right foot by marking her third complete shutout win of the season. After this weekend’s five games, she’s got a 0.3 ERA, 23 strikeouts within in a total of 23.2 innings, and allowed only nine hits and a single run.

“I don’t see a weakness with this group,” Lenti said. “In years past we’ve had injuries. (…) But I think this is one of the best defensive teams we’ve ever had at DePaul. It’s a solid group, and our pitching is better than last year.”

It’s Lenti’s 37th season as the head coach of DePaul softball, and after this weekend, he’s only three wins shy of a tallied 1,300 career wins — which places him fifth all-time in NCAA history and fourth all-time for active coaches.

After the Cougar Classic, the Blue Demons will head down to Arlington, Texas the week of Feb. 23-25 to play in the UTA Maverick Tournament.