DePaul avoids sweep, beats Notre Dame 5-2 on Senior Day

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It seemed that Hannah Penna’s home run at Cacciatore Stadium would never land, but she knew for certain it was going over the outfield fence. With two strikes against her, she smashed one into left field, driving in three runs that proved to be the dagger that drove DePaul to a 5-2 Senior Day win over rival Notre Dame, April 28.

“As soon as it hit the bat, I knew it was a home run,” said head coach Eugene Lenti. “She’s got a good eye and she has been clutch all week. I figured she would do something at bat.”

Not only did DePaul make up for a difficult doubleheader the day before, this was also the first time since 2010 that DePaul beat Notre Dame and this victory ended an 11-game winning streak by the Fighting Irish. After the third game of the series, Notre Dame went home with its second Big East loss, while DePaul jumped up to 14-5 in the conference and 28-18 overall.

“There was nothing bigger than this win today,” said Lenti. “It was an emotional day and it was a team win considering most of our roster played today.”

DePaul saw big contributions from nearly everyone on its roster, but none more vital than Verdun, who returned to form. She had four strikeouts and kept Notre Dame to two runs, its lowest run count in eight games. Verdun also kept Big East batting average leader Emilee Koerner hitless on the day, striking her out twice. The other big contribution came from Penna’s three-run game winner in the bottom of the sixth that kept the day happy for the departing seniors.

“I’m glad I got to send the seniors out on this note,” said Penna. “It was also nice sending Notre Dame home showing them what we could do.”

This would be Ali Warren, Bree Brown and Samantha Dodd’s last time being able to face their rivals. When asked if this was how she wanted her senior day to go, Samantha Dodd said that she was more than pleased to depend on her teammates.

“I flew out trying to get the ball to the fence before, but I was happy to depend on my other teammates to get things done,” said Dodd.

Megan Coronado also had a great day at the plate getting two hits and one RBI. The first four batters in the order – Dodd, Verdun, Allie Braden and Mary Connolly all had hits. Notre Dame’s starting pitcher and Big East leader in strikeouts, Laura Winter, had six strikeouts but gave up eight hits. The Fighting Irish’s big batter on the day was Cassidy Whitten, who had two hits and one RBI.

DePaul faltered in the field, however, committing four errors on the day, many of which came from errant throws that put Notre Dame in good scoring positions. One run for Notre Dame came from a bunt that drove in a runner from third, who advanced from a throwing error.

Yet, despite the pressure, Verdun continued to pitch to contact and get her team out of dangerous situations and allowed DePaul to out-hit the Fighting Irish.

“She had more strikeouts than all of yesterday combined,” said Lenti. “She still walked, but she worked her team out of jams and kept the ball in the infield.”

DePaul now has to use this momentum for Tuesday’s road game against an equally tough Northwestern team that is 11-4 at home.