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Connolly and Verdun Simply Too Much for UNLV
Kirsten Verdun's stellar outing in the pitching circle and Mary Connolly's home run highlight a 2-1 win over UNLV.

Kirsten Verdun's stellar outing in the pitching circle and Mary Connolly's home run highlight a 2-1 win over UNLV.

March 2, 2013

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LAS VEGAS - Mary Connolly provided the power and the finesse for DePaul on Saturday night.

Her solo home run and what she described as a "wimpy ground ball" lifted the Blue Demons to a 2-1 victory over UNLV at the Eller Media Stadium Classic.

UNLV had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third with an unearned run. Stefany Valentino singled with two out, took two bases on a fielder's choice and an error and scored on Tayler Van Acker's base hit to right field.

"I didn't make a play and it led to their run," Connolly said. "I told Kirsten (winning pitcher Kirsten Verdun) that it was my fault and I would get it back."

She was good to her word, leading off the fourth inning with a blast beyond the center-field fence.

"The UNLV pitcher had struck me out in my last at-bat with an inside pitch," Connolly said. "I was looking for something inside. Coach (Eugene Lenti) has been telling us to attack the first good pitch, and I went after the first pitch.

"I kept my hands inside and drove it to center field. It felt like a really good hit, but I didn't think it would go out. It was good for our team to come right back after they had scored."

Verdun's splendid outing limited the Rebels to three hits and just the one run until Connolly could come up with a way to win the game for DePaul (11-8).

Samantha Dodd led off the sixth inning with a base hit to left, advanced to second on a groundout and moved to third on a wild pitch.

"After I hit the inside pitch for a home run, I was expecting something outside this time," Connolly said. "Eug (Lenti) has been telling us to go with the pitch. I knew Sam had a lot of speed at third, so I hit a wimpy ground ball to the second baseman.

"They made a play at home, but Sam was too fast."

And Verdun was too good for UNLV (7-11).

"Verdun pitched great---one of her best outings of the season," Lenti said. "Her pitching was the difference, and Mary supplied all the offense."

Verdun (7-4) said the key was staying ahead in the count.

"The big thing was throwing my changeup for strikes," Verdun said. "It was a game-changer for me as it kept their hitters off-balance and had them guessing. That and my screwball were my best pitches."

DePaul finishes up the Classic with an 11 a.m. game on Sunday against Cal State Northridge.

NOTES: Connolly's solo shot was her second of the tournament and the fifth home run for the Blue Demons at the Eller Media Stadium... it was also her third homer of the season, which leads the team... Braden had two more hits on Saturday evening and is batting .615 (8-for-13) at the Classic with a home run, six runs and two RBIs... Gena Lenti is batting .500 in Vegas with two runs and an RBI... Verdun is hitting .385 with a home run, four RBIs and a run... Connolly is batting .364 with two home runs---including a grand slam---and seven RBIs along with two runs... Megan Coronado is hitting .364 with a home run, three runs and two RBIs... Paige Peterson had two hits against UNLV while Gena Lenti, Coronado, Connolly and Dodd each had one hit.