Softball wins series but falls short of the sweep against Villanova


Donald Crocker

Baylee Cosgrove swings through a hit for a homerun, her second of the series.

The DePaul softball team dominated in the first two games of their weekend series against Villanova, but failed to complete the sweep when the offense struggled on Sunday. They finished the series 2-1 with a 3-6 record in conference play and 13-18 record overall.

After three losses against UConn, the Blue Demons needed a strong game to bounce back. And they did just that against Villanova on Friday at Cacciatore Stadium in the first of their three-game weekend series with a walk-off 9-1 win in five innings.

With senior pitcher Erin Hocker on the mound and sophomore catcher Riley Pool behind the plate, the Blue Demons looked like a brand new team and dominated from the very beginning. The team had the life and the energy that has been lacking in past games.

“Top to bottom, everybody executed, everybody was calm, everybody was energized,” head coach Tracie Adix-Zins said. “I mean, you really can’t ask for a better game than that for us.”

Junior first baseman Brooke Johnson opened the hitting for DePaul with a double that dropped as the Villanova center fielder battled the sun. In the next at bat, a single by graduate student left fielder Kate Polucha dropped in the same spot in the outfield, bringing in Johnson and giving DePaul a 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats tied up the game in the next inning. The Blue Demons did not let that phase them, however, and bounced back with a double by Pool that brought home junior right fielder Tori Meyer to give DePaul their second run.

However, it was freshman designated hitter Baylee Cosgrove who broke open the scoring with a 3-run home run that cleared the bases. The hit over the fence brought home freshman third baseman Anna Wohlers and Pool, making the score 5-1.

A single by Pool brought home two more runs, and Wohlers ended the game in the fifth inning with a 2-run home run that soared over right field and bounced off the dorms. Wohlers finished the game going three-for-three in hits.

“It felt great to get it done for my team,” Wohlers said. “I knew all I needed to do was get one little hit but it happened to just go over, so I was glad.”

Hocker played the entire game and looked comfortable on the mound the entire time. The only time she looked unsteady was in the fifth inning, where she let up two hits in a row, but she didn’t let that phase her and finished out the game.

“It was a really good team effort,” Hocker said. “We came out, we came to play, despite adversity we’ve been coming off hot on top of everything and trying to work back.”

The win snapped the Blue Demons’ four-game losing streak and opened up the weekend series for the Blue Demons.

“I just want to see the same team come tomorrow,” Adix-Zins said. “We’ve hit a rough patch in the beginning of our conference play, and I think we can easily get out of it this weekend and continue to carry that momentum.”

The Blue Demons did that in the second game with a 7-1 win over Villanova on a rainy Saturday morning. Graduate student Sarah Lehman was in the pitching circle for DePaul and she played in all seven innings, striking out eight batters.

Graduate student shortstop Maranda Gutierrez opened the scoring for the Blue Demons in the first inning. Polucha lined out, but when Villanova turned to make the double play, the player at second base fumbled the ball, and Gutierrez was able to score on the error from third.

The bases were loaded for the Blue Demons in the third inning, and they were able to capitalize. With Meyer up to bat, Hilger took off from third base and stole home to give DePaul a two-run lead. Meyer followed that with a single that brought home Polucha to make the score 3-0.

The offense continued for DePaul while Villanova’s struggles worsened as a sacrifice fly by Cosgrove brought home Meyer from third, and the inning ended with the Blue Demons up by five.

Cosgrove soared a home run to center field in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend DePaul’s lead to six. It was her second home run of the series and her third of the season.

Lehman had a no-hitter entering the sixth inning, but Villanova snapped that with a home run that soared over Meyer’s head in right field, putting Villanova on the board to make the score 6-1.

The Blue Demons tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth when freshman infielder Carly Alvers scored all the way from first on a double by Wohlers.

Wearing their pink uniforms in support of cancer awareness onSunday, DePaul could not bring out the brooms to complete their sweep of their conference series against Villanova.

Against sophmore pitcher Julyana Gomez, Villanova’s bats were struggling to get hits until their offense rapidly caught fire with back-to-back hits that included a 2-run home run at the top of the fourth inning. The surge forced Adix-Zins to replace Gomez with Hocker.

But the lineup change did not slow down Villanova’s attack. DePaul gave up 6 straight runs in the fourth inning while their offensive woes continued. After Pool broke the ice by giving DePaul its first hit with a single in the bottom of the second inning, DePaul did not have another hit until the fourth inning.

It was there where Meyer and third baseman Nicole Sullivan took it upon themselves to give the team a spark, bringing some life into the team with back-to-back doubles that led to DePaul scoring their first runs of the game. DePaul was down 6-2.

After three straight walks by Villanova, Alvers hit a deep fly with the bases loaded to bring in a run, cutting the deficit 6-3. But Villanova responded with an explosive five-run inning that featured a 2-run double and a 3-run home run to extend Depaul’s deficit 11-3.

“We had a lot of hard balls hit but we have to execute in those tough moments,” Meyer said. “We had bases loaded a few times and we did not do anything with that so we have to produce and execute.”

DePaul hit .174 in the game, only hitting the ball four times while Villanova had 14 hits that included two home runs and numerous plays to bring in multiple RBI’s.

“I know the game did not go the way that I liked but I’m so proud of the fact that we came in and took care of business in the first two games,” Adix-Zins said. “I wish we could take the sweep but there is a lot we can learn from this game too. You just have to keep learning from series to series.”

The team’s next game will be a crosstown rivalry at UIC on Wednesday at 4 pm.