Lineup dominates from top to bottom as DePaul defeats No. 1 UConn in game one of Big East Tournament


Emily Soto

DePaul softball cheers as pitcher Sarah Lehman walks towards them. Lehman struck out five and only allowed two hits in the Blue Demons’ 6-2 over UConn on May 12.

Every aspect of the team shined as DePaul softball defeated No. 1 UConn 6-2 in game one of the Big East Tournament on Thursday. 

The Blue Demons entered the game as the No. 4 seed and were swept by the Huskies in the regular season, but did not let that scare them. Instead, dominant pitching from graduate student Sarah Lehman, as well as strong defense and offense from the entire lineup, all came together to defeat the top seeded UConn. 

The lineup, which was led by graduate student shortstop Maranda Gutierrez, included three freshmen, catcher Anna Wohlers, designated player Baylee Cosgrove and third baseman Carly Alvers, who all earned starting positions in the lineup after dominant performances in April. 

It was Cosgrove who got the Blue Demons on the board first with a triple that brought home junior right fielder Tori Meyer in the top of the second. Additionally, Alvers shined from the first inning with a running throw to junior first baseman Brooke Johnson, who did the splits at first to make the out. 

“I think going in and scoring first, it just sets the tone a little bit more,” head coach Tracie Adix-Zins said. “It allows people to play a little bit more relaxed and not try to press to do so much. I thought it was very crucial for us to score first.”

After grabbing the early lead, momentum and high energy allowed for Lehman to get comfortable on the mound and never let UConn’s offense get started. 

Johnson had taken a hard fall in foul territory while trying to catch a foul ball in the first inning and seemed to be shaken up, but returned to the game.

“I knew how important this game was and I just wasn’t going to let concrete stop me, so I knew I had to get back up.” Johnson said. 

In the next inning, Johsnon made the strong defensive play at first from Alvers. She then had another catch while doing the splits off a quick defensive play from graduate student shortstop Maranda Gutierrez, who was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year for a third time before the game. 

Along with her defense, it also seemed like the fall did not impact Johnson’s hitting either. With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, Johnson came up to bat and drove out a single that scored Gutierrez and Alvers. 

The Blue Demons’ offense wasn’t done there, though. With the bases loaded again, graduate student left fielder Kate Polucha came up to the plate and hit a single to right field that dropped between two UConn players, which brought home Hilger and Johnson as she slid into home to make the score 5-0.

Lehman was dominant on the mound with a no-hitter that lasted until the bottom of the sixth inning when a hit soared over Polucha in left field to give UConn their first hit and run of the game. 

“I think we like being the underdog, we all really want this, you can tell,” Lehman said. “Scoring first, that helps, and big defensive plays are so awesome.”

Sophomore catcher Riley Pool came in to hit and ground out in a sacrifice fly to score Meyer and make the score 6-1. UConn countered with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, but Lehman was able to complete the inning to secure the win for DePaul. 

Lehman pitched all seven innings, and finished the game with five strikouts and only walked two batters. 

“I think she’s hitting her stride at the right time,” Adix-Zins said. “She’s a competitor, she wants it. I think having the knowledge that she has, coming from Iowa and being in a Power Five, she knows what she needs to do, and I think she’s just hitting stride and giving everything she’s got out there.”

The Blue Demons take on No. 3 Villanova tomorrow. In the regular season series, DePaul defeated Villanova 2-1. 

“Going forward, I think we just need to keep our energy up and know that we need to give it our all through every play,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter who we beat right now, it doesn’t matter who we’re about to play, we just need to give our all and I think we’ll win.”