DePaul softball stays perfect in Big East

Pitching and defense ruled the day for the Blue Demons as DePaul softball knocked off the Villanova Wildcats 6-1 in game one and 3-0 in game two of the doubleheader Saturday.

It was DePaul’s 16th and 17th straight wins in a row and the game one win was the 1,300th in DePaul history.

“What carried the day for us was pitching and defense,” Head Coach Eugene Lenti said. “The offense carried us last week, and I was pleased with our pitching and defense today.”

Kirsten Verdun was on the mound in game one for DePaul and pitched a beauty in four innings, giving up only three hits in four innings with five strikeouts. She ran into a bit of a jam in the top of the second inning when Ali Lowe singled with one out, then stole second to get into scoring position. Stephanie Butler then got an infield single to get Lowe to third with two outs, but Verdun got Ali Angelbello to pop out to end the threat.

After going down in order in the bottom of the second inning, the Blue Demons opened their scoring account for the game in the bottom of the third. Gena Lenti singled to start off the inning, then advanced to third following two fielders choices from the next two batters. Mary Connolly then stepped up and blasted a home run to centerfield to give DePaul a 2-0 lead. It was Connolly’s team-leading 12th home run. In the bottom of the fourth inning the Blue Demons would continue to produce runs. With two outs and nobody on, DePaul loaded the bases after two walks and a hit. Ali Braden then drove a hard grounder up the middle for a single, scoring Gena Lenti and Staci Bonezek. Next batter up would be Connolly, who walked to load the bases once more. Dylan Christensen was hit by a pitch in the next at bat, scoring Cherelle Chambers. Rounding out the inning was a bases-loaded walk by Nicole Pihl to score Braden, giving DePaul a 6-0 lead.

Villanova would get on the board in the top of the fifth, breaking up the shutout bid. With two on and two out, freshman third baseman Lauren Herschberg singled up the middle forcing an error, which allowed Natalia Segovia to score the Wildcats’ first and only run of the afternoon.

Hannah Penna, who came on in relief for Verdun, would not allow another hit in the next two innings, closing the first game out 6-1 in favor of DePaul.

In game two the pitching was once again magnificent for DePaul, this time with Mary Connolly in the circle. She would get some offensive support in the bottom of the second inning when Staci Bonezek took a 1-0 pitch to right-center field for her third home run of the year. The solo shot put DePaul up 1-0.

The Demons would bring the offense again in the next inning, loading up the bases with two outs for Morgan Maize, who knocked in Connolly and Chambers with a single to stretch DePaul’s lead to 3-0.

That would be all the offense the Blue Demons would need as Connolly turned in a great pitching performance for the rest of the afternoon, giving up only two hits and no runs in the complete game performance. DePaul would close out the 3-0 victory, earning their 17th straight win and improving to 35-8 overall, 15-0 in the Big East.

Despite striking out 11 Wildcats in the afternoon, Connolly gave the credit to her teammates behind her.

“Our defense was phenomenal today and that’s all you can really ask for when it comes to pitching and it makes ourjobeasierasapitcheraswell,” she said. “I just think that we are used to our offense carrying the day so it was nice for our defense to carry the day today.

“DePaul will close out their home schedule Wednesday in a non-conference matchup against Northwestern, before concluding the regular season at Butler. From there it’s the Big East tournament then, presumably, the NCAA tournament.

We’re in a really good spot right now and I think just keeping our composure and not feeling any pressure really helped all of us today, including myself,” Connolly said.