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Softball gets hot start in Hawaii

By David Berry
On February 20, 2012

Eight out of the 16 players on the DePaul Blue Demon softball team are from what would be considered softball states.

It seems that would make the first weekend of the season in Honolulu at the Hawaii Paradise Classic a breeze. A nice, cool island breeze at that.

"They loved it, they really did," Head Coach Eugene Lenti said about the weather during their stay on the islands, which hovered around the 70s with light winds and not much humidity. "It was paradise, it really was."

On the field results saw more success than not, but still left the Blue Demons with plenty to work on.

"It was a good weekend, we got three wins in and beat the teams we were supposed to beat," Lenti said after his squad defeated Missouri-Kansas City twice and Seattle once. "I would have liked to compete better against Hawaii. Overall, it was a pretty solid weekend."

The Rainbow Wahine of Hawaii were an offensive wrecking machine most of the weekend, scoring a total of 30 runs on the last day of the tournament between two games. They outscored DePaul 14-2 in their two games the teams played, both Hawaii victories.

One of the few bright spots against Hawaii specifically was Hannah Penna. The sophomore pitcher who struggled to make an impact an impact as a freshman, was one of the pitchers of any team in the tournament that could slow down the Rainbow Wahine bats at all.

"My control has gotten a lot better, as well as my confidence and focus," Penna said when asked about what has changed from last season to now.

The Miami, Fla. native with a strong softball background in her family, Penna admitted that the warm weather helped somewhat in her strong performance of six innings pitched, five hits, two earned runs, six strikeouts and three walks in two relief appearances against Hawaii.

"It was awesome," Penna said about the weather.

The Blue Demons certainly had their moments of glory in their three wins, including a moment that can't get much better for a first at-bat.

Mary Connolly came through in a pinch for DePaul, literally.

In her first at-bat for the Blue Demons, the freshman blasted a three-run pinch-hit home run to give DePaul the win in their first game of the season.

"You can't do much better than that," Lenti said, saying a three-run walk-off home run in a player's first at-bat has never happened, to his knowledge, in program history. "She was very clutch there. I felt she was the right person at the right time and she made me look good."

Sophomore Megan Coronado, Connolly's roommate for the weekend in Hawaii, expressed just as much pride for her as Lenti did.

"Every night we would have a talk and I'd tell her and I'd tell her everyone is going to get their shot and when you do you have to perform," Coronado said of Connolly, who hit two home runs and drove in five runs on the weekend. "She said she's been ready and waiting. I was so proud, everyone was stoked for her."

Coronado was solid on the weekend as well, hitting .368 (7-of-19) with two home runs, five runs batted in and four runs scored.

"This year being a four, I am more of a threat so I attack the ball more and any pitch I get as a strike I'm going to go after it," the sophomore and Texas native said, also quick to point out how much she enjoyed the warm weather.

Lynsey Ciezki led the team on the weekend with a .467 batting average.

The Blue Demons are back on the road, heading to Las Vegas for the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic before heading down to Clearwater, Fla. for the NFCA Leadoff Classic.

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