Softball splits doubleheader with No. 11 Louisville
Blue Demons take first game 7-1, lose second 4-3
Facing a formidable opponent in the undefeated No. 11 Louisville Cardinals -- as well as unfavorable Chicago weather conditions -- the DePaul softball team had a tough test in their home opening doubleheader on Saturday, March 31.
It was a "tale of two cities," according to DePaul Head Coach Eugene Lenti, as the Blue Demons split their two games with the Cardinals (29-1, 4-1). DePaul won 7-1 in the noon opener, handing Louisville its first loss of the season, but dropped their second game 4-3.
"Great first game, so-so second game," Lenti said. "We really felt like we could have won both games, but we just didn't have the same kind of intensity in the second game. We hit well, we hit often [in the first game], and then the second game we didn't pitch well, we didn't hit well and we didn't defend well."
In the first game, the Blue Demons (17-11, 1-1) came out swinging, racking up nine hits including two home runs from senior Katelyn Braget.
"She really put us on her back in the first game and carried us offensively," Lenti said.
"I've just been working a lot on making adjustments and constantly seeing the ball and hitting the ball," said Braget, who attributed quick hands bringing the "sweet spot of the bat" to the ball as what allowed her to hit the two homers.
Braget opened up the scoring for DePaul with a deep two-run shot to right center in the second inning, taking the Cardinals' starting pitcher Tori Collins by surprise. Collins entered the game with a record of 13-0, but looked out of sorts in the four innings she pitched, giving up four earned runs.
In the fifth inning, Braget continued her strong hitting with a solo shot to left, putting the Blue Demons up 3-0. Braget's big hits inspired the rest of the team, who knocked in base hits of their own in the fifth and sixth innings.
Lynsey Ciezki recorded an RBI single, scoring Paige Peterson in the fifth. Mary Connolly hit an RBI single of her own to score Samantha Dodd, pinch runner Amanda Mener scored on a wild pitch, and Bree Brown doubled in Ali Lenti to run the score up to 7-1 after six innings.
"Everybody just came out very aggressive and they wanted the win," Braget said. "When this team wants to win, they do everything to get it and we worked really well together."
Kirsten Verdun (10-5) had another stellar outing on the mound for the Blue Demons, allowing only three hits and one earned run while striking out five in the first game. Her lone miscue, allowing a Kristin Austin triple in the sixth inning, was not enough to give the Cardinals any more offensive chances.
"Verdun's a bulldog. You know, you put her on that mound and she'll do something for you," Braget said. "As long as she's there, we're there to back her up. I hope she keeps coming strong because she's constantly getting better and better."
In the second game, the pitching was the difference-maker, as Bree Brown (4-3) struggled a bit in the early going. Brown gave up two quick runs in the first inning, which weren't helped by defensive faults in the infield.
The Blue Demons responded in the bottom of the inning, however, notching two runs of their own to tie the game at 2-2. Brown settled down and threw good pitches like her patented riser, but allowed two Louisville runs in the fifth. DePaul scored once in the bottom of the inning, but wasn't able to tie or take the lead.
Lenti, though disappointed his team could not hold on and win both games, was still hopeful for a victory in the decisive third game of the Big East conference series tomorrow.
"We'd like a repeat of the first game tomorrow, so we'll throw Verdun into the game again tomorrow, hope that she pitches the same way and take advantage of all of our offensive opportunities," he said.
The first pitch of Sunday's game is scheduled for 11 a.m.
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