DePaul softball splits weekend series with Villanova, stays top of Big East standings

DePaul+junior+Gabby+O%27Riley+hits+the+ball+during+the+Blue+Demons+first+series+in+February.

DePaul Athletics/Steve Woltmann

DePaul junior Gabby O’Riley hits the ball during the Blue Demons first series in February.

DePaul entered the series against Villanova riding an eight-game winning streak and a perfect 6-0 record in Big East play.

The Blue Demons were looking to make it 10 straight as they opened the series with a doubleheader on Saturday.

However, Villanova had other ideas as the Wildcats won the first game 2-0, snapping DePaul’s winning streak in the process.

Villanova got on the board in the third inning as a single by Chloe Smith plated Paige Rauch who reached on a walk and stole second. They added another run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Tess Cites to drive in Julia Dacosta.

DePaul’s best scoring opportunity came in the top of the fifth. With Pearl Barroso at second, Angela Scalzitti singled to left-center. In her attempt to score, Barroso got caught in a rundown between home and third and was eventually tagged out. 

Villanova starter Paige Rauch threw a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits and striking out seven. DePaul’s Krista Dalgarn took a tough loss as she pitched six innings, giving up only two runs and striking out three.

DePaul had very little time to process the loss as they were back out on the field 30 minutes later for game two of the doubleheader.

The Blue Demons scored first this time around. In the top of the second inning, Marada Gutierrez was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. An infield single by Nicole Sullivan loaded the bases with two outs. A passed ball scored Skylor Hilger from third to put DePaul in front.

No runs would cross the plate for either team until the final inning.

Sullivan led off the seventh with a lead-off double and advanced to third after an infield single by Grace Frazier. Kate Polucha’s groundout to third with one out was enough to knock in Sullivan. Jessica Cothern came up clutch with a single to left to drive in Frazier. 

Cothern’s RBI in the top of the inning would prove to be key as Villanova scored twice in their half of the inning to get within a run. But Natalie Halvorson was able to get the final out and earn a 3-2 win for DePaul.

Halvorson picked up the win and improved her record to 5-3 on the season. She scattered five hits and gave up only two runs in seven innings of work, striking out seven.

DePaul’s attempt to take the rubber match of the series was cut short due to inclement weather. The two sides managed to play only two innings before the rain forced a delay. An hour into the rain delay, the decision was made to cancel the game.

DePaul may have seen their winning streak end but they end the weekend on a high note, splitting what became a two-game series. They improve their record to 16-8 overall and 7-1 in conference play.

 The Blue Demons’ next game is scheduled for April 13 where they will be on the road to take on Illinois State.