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Blue Demons Win Fourth in a Row
Bree Brown scored the winning run in a 3-2 victory over Mississippi State at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.

Bree Brown scored the winning run in a 3-2 victory over Mississippi State at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.

Feb. 25, 2012

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CLEARWATER, Fla. - What a glorious day for the Blue Demons.

First came the 10-0, six-inning triumph over Winthrop on Saturday, and six hours later, DePaul capped off the sweep with a gritty 3-2 victory over Mississippi State at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.

That means DePaul and No. 17/18 Louisiana-Lafayette are both 4-0 in the 13-team event with a chance to claim the championship on Sunday.

DePaul plays Hofstra at 9 a.m. and Louisiana-Lafayette takes on Winthrop at the same time. Hofstra and Winthrop are common opponents for the two front-runners.

If DePaul and Louisiana-Lafayette both win, and since they didn't meet head-to-head, the next tiebreaker is run differential among common opponents. The Blue Demons have a seven-run edge going into Sunday's action.

"We had a great day," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "Bree Brown was on fire in the first game. She dominated from the pitching circle and had a lot of good at-bats the whole game."

Brown fired a one-hitter and went 3-for-5 with five RBIs against Winthrop. She scored the winning run against the Bulldogs in Saturday's second game.

"I hit my spots, kept the ball away and Winthrop's batters chased a lot," Brown said. "I kept the ball just outside the strike zone with my backdoor curve and riseball."

DePaul (10-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on three consecutive singles by Samantha Dodd, Megan Coronado and Mary Connolly (RBI). Kirsten Verdun brought home Coronado with a single to left.

Mississippi State (8-4) tied it with an unearned run in the first and a Jessica Cooley RBI single in the second.

Brown reached on an error in the fifth inning and with one out, Lynsey Ciezki singled to right. Dodd walked to load the bases and Ali Warren's hard grounder was mishandled by the Bulldog second baseman, allowing Brown to score.

"We hung tough against a good Mississippi State team," Lenti said. "Verdun started out a little shaky, but got stronger as the game went on. After the fifth inning, she was unhittable."

In the four Leadoff Classic games, the Blue Demons have outhit their opponents .385-.136 and outscored them 25-4.

"When the offense is hitting like this, I can relax a little when I'm pitching," Brown said. "I know the offense is doing the job, so I can stay loose in the circle.

"I really like to hit. I'm seeing pitches really well, and it seems like a giant beach ball coming in. I'm pretty comfortable hitting in the clutch.

"The main reason I'm hitting better this year is I'm getting more chances. The more you hit, the better feel you have for swinging it just right."

NOTES: Verdun went seven innings giving up one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks... she is now 6-2 on the season with a 2.07 ERA... Brown is 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA... on the day, DePaul scored 13 runs and pounded out 27 hits in two games... for the season, the Blue Demons are batting .301 as a team... Dodd was 2-for-3 with a run against Mississippi State and Ciezki was 2-for-4... Coronado, Connolly, Katelyn Braget, Verdun, Staci Bonezek and Allie Braden each had one hit... Verdun and Connolly each had one RBI.. in the four Leadoff Classic games, Coronado is hitting .625 followed by Dodd (.545), Braget (.462), Bonezek (.455), Braden (.444), Ciezki (.385), Connolly (.364).... the pitching staff has a combined ERA of 0.56 in Florida.