Softball’s offense soars in sweep over St. John’s


Donald Crocker

DePaul softball freshman infielder Baylee Cosgrove slides into second base in the Blue Demons’ win over St. John’s on April 15.

In a weekend series against St. John’s, DePaul softball came away with the sweep after the offense dominated in all three games on Friday and Saturday.

The Blue Demons took game one against St. John’s with a 9-1 victory, led by four DePaul home runs and a near flawless pitching performance by graduate student Sarah Lehman.

“I think we came out strong, but a little disappointed that we got the run rule in the sixth inning, but it’s like we could’ve taken more pitches off Sarah’s arm,” head coach Tracie Adix-Zins said. “At the end of the day, we got the win and Sarah threw well and the offense came out and scored runs, so it’s hard to be too upset when you hit back-to-back home runs to start the game and then finish the game.”

The Blue Demons took an early lead in the bottom of the first after junior first baseman Brooke Johnson and freshman third baseman Anna Wohlers hit back-to-back homeruns into deep left center field.

“I won’t lie, I think it’s been a great combination of what the middle of our lineup is supposed to do and the power that they supply,” Adix-Zins said. “It definitely makes people think twice when pitching to them, I can’t really complain when they hit back-to-back homeruns.”

DePaul added onto their lead in the next inning after sophomore center fielder Nicole Sullivan singled and junior right fielder Tori Meyer scored to extend the lead 3-0.

After walks in the bottom of the second, graduate student second baseman Skylor Hilger sent a hit to right field that scored another run to put DePaul up 5-0.

Lehman was lights out through the first two innings, recording three strikeouts and not allowing a hit until a solo blast to center field.

“I think it’s definitely easier when you can trust your defense behind you and we had a really good defense today,” Lehman said. “Riley [Pool] really helped me out today with some pitches and framing, so it went really well today.”

After a double by Meyers in the third, Sullivan hit a line drive to center field that resulted in a triple and brought Meyers around to score to extend their lead 6-1.

Lehman tossed five strikeouts and only allowed two hits over the last three innings which added onto her strong pitching performance. Overall, Lehman was dominant, throwing a complete game and striking out 10 batters.

“I think Lehman did a good job,” Adix-Zins said. “She’s a power pitcher, so they were definitely off guard by how hard she threw and we had her throw a little more changeups the second time through the order. The nice part about Sarah is that she can go down and up and she made it work in her favor today.”

The Blue Demons walked off the game in the bottom of the sixth after Johnson and Wohlers went back to back yet again. Wohlers hit the walk-off home run to finish off a dominant day at the plate; going 2-for-3 with two home runs and two runs batted in.

“When I first went up to bat, I was just thinking of getting a little hit so the runners can get everything going,” Wohlers said. “My mindset was just hit a line drive and if it goes over, it goes over and obviously it did. It felt really well off the bat.”

In game two, the offense soared in a 14-0 victory, led by a late game three-run home run from graduate student shortstop Maranda Gutierrez and Meyer’s three RBI performance.

“We came out strong and scored the first run,” Adix-Zin said. “[Erin] Hocker threw a good game and only gave up three hits, we just had a lot of base hits from everybody and there was a lot of good solid softball all-around.”

Johnson slugged her third home run of the day to give the Blue Demons an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

“I was just trying to protect and luckily it was a better pitch than I thought it would be and I just turned on it,” Johnson said. “I came in with the mindset that we have to win two games today and I’m going to do what I can to help my team do that.”

The offensive firepower this inning was highlighted by Meyer’s two RBI triple to right center field, Cosgrove’s RBI double down the right field line and Gutierez’s three-run blast to left center field.

Hocker, similar to Lehman, was strong on the mound, throwing a complete game with three hits and six strikeouts.

“She did such a good job today,” Adix-Zins said. “She has the changeup, so that’s what we tend to throw and it just helped set up everything else because now they have to think about the changeup. Both of our pitchers executed the game plan well today.”

After the back-to-back wins on Friday, the Blue Demons returned to close out the series against St. John’s on Saturday. St. John’s offense finally made an appearance for the third game, but DePaul was able to make a comeback and defeat St. John’s 11-8 for the sweep.

Hocker was back on the mound after a dominant performance in game two. However, after the long day on Friday, Hocker’s exhaustion hit and she gave up a home run in the first inning, their first lead of the entire series.

The Red Storm added to their lead in the second inning with another home run, before a double by St. John’s cleared the bases to give them a 5-0 lead in the second inning. Wohlers countered with a home run of her own in the bottom of the second but St. John’s added another run in the top of the third to take a five-run lead.

A walk to Wohlers loaded the bases for Polucha, who came up to the plate and hit a ball that sailed into right field and bounced off the top of the fence and back into the ballpark. The umps initially called the hit a home run, but after gathering and talking it over, the umps brought Polucha back to where she was at third base and called it a base-clearing triple.

A single by Meyer put her on base, and she followed by stealing second. That move had an immediate impact in the next at bat when Sullivan stepped up and hit a single that scored Polucha and Meyer to tie the game at six.

Sophomore pitcher Julyana Gomez entered to start the fourth inning, and stayed in for the rest of the game, earning the win.

Freshman infielder Carly Alvers came off the bench and had an immediate impact, hitting a double that brought home Meyer to give the Blue Demons their first lead of the game. Sullivan and Alvers then scored off a single by Gutierrez, who then scored off a single by Wohlers to make the score 10-6.

“In general, we needed a team win like that,” Meyer said. “I think it’s cool and more rewarding as a whole when you see people step up and people who you know can do the job and they do it, and I just think that as a whole team, this is a really big win for us moving forward for the rest of the season.”

St. John’s tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning, but the Blue Demons were able to shut them down with a big catch by Sullivan in center field, and DePaul added on another run from a home run by Meyer to open up the bottom of the sixth. The game finished early after the sixth inning because of St. John’s flight schedule.

“I’m proud of how we just kept fighting, we kept trying to figure out a way to steal some outs,” Adix-Zins said. “With the catch in center field [by Sullivan] and the catch in right field [by Meyer] earlier in the game, we were just trying to do everything we could to keep us in the game, and that’s all I could ask for at the end of the day.”