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Braden's Booming Bat Drives DePaul
Allie Braden hit .588 over the weekend with a home run, triple and three doubles.

Allie Braden hit .588 over the weekend with a home run, triple and three doubles.

March 3, 2013

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LAS VEGAS – Even though we all know better, Allie Braden sure made it look easy this weekend.

On Sunday, her triple and double led DePaul to a 7-1 victory over Cal State Northridge at the Eller Media Stadium Classic.

Hitting a softball or baseball is one of the most difficult challenges in all of sports. And yet, Braden was 10-for-17 in Las Vegas for a .588 batting average with a home run, three doubles, a triple, three RBIs from the leadoff spot and eight runs scored.

“I focused on getting my hands through the ball on my swing, and I was seeing the ball really well,” Braden said. “I had to find my happy medium to be relaxed with everything I did at bat and on the field.

“I was very calm in the batter’s box and didn’t think too much. I went after good pitches and hit the ball nice and easy.”

As she had done all weekend, Braden once again ignited the DePaul attack. Cal State Northridge had taken a 1-0 lead on Mikayla Thielges’ solo home run in the bottom of the first when Braden literally took things into her own hands.

The junior shortstop led off the third inning with a triple to right field and came home when Northridge committed an error on the play.

That loosened up her teammates. Samantha Dodd followed with a walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and went to third on Kirsten Verdun’s infield single. Megan Coronado put the Blue Demons ahead 2-1 with a sacrifice fly to center field.

“I hoped the triple would get the team going,” Braden said. “Once someone gets it going, everyone else wants to repeat what you did.”

Braden drove in Marsha' Pendilton in the fourth with a double to left field and scored on Samantha Dodd’s double to left.

An inning later, DePaul (12-8) scored three times on an error, Pendilton’s RBI single and a designed pickoff play where Pendilton got hung up between first and second base while Kali Gardner scooted home from third.

“Allie was our most consistent hitter this weekend, hitting line drives and getting doubles to the opposite field,” said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. “She had a great approach at the plate and wasn’t chasing too many pitches.

“Allie is a good example of what can happen if you stick with what we teach. If you attack the good pitches, you’re going to have success.”

Another key component of the Blue Demons going 4-1 at the Classic was ace Kirsten Verdun’s return to form. The junior left-hander made it back-to-back stellar performances on Sunday, limiting Cal State Northridge (8-14) to one run and two hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.

“Verdun gave up a home run early, and we have to get rid of that,” Lenti said. “But she really settled down and only gave up the two hits.

“Her changeup looks better and has been more consistent her last two outings.

“We would’ve liked to have won all five games, but we didn’t have good pitching in our loss to Northridge yesterday. Overall, our pitching was better with Verdun and Morgan Maize.”

DePaul takes a break from competition this week before returning to action March 14 against No. 18/18 Washington at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.

NOTES: In addition to Braden’s robust hitting, Verdun batted .471 with a home run, four RBIs and a run scored… Gena Lenti batted .455 at the Classic with two runs and an RBI… this was her first competition of the season after playing on the DePaul women’s basketball team during the softball team’s first three tournaments… Mary Connolly hit .333 with two home runs, seven RBIs and two runs… Coronado batted .333 with a home run, three RBIs and four runs… Paige Peterson also hit .333 and scored twice… in the circle, Verdun was 3-0 with a 0.66 earned run average… she gave up just two earned runs in 21 innings with 16 strikeouts and four walks… the Blue Demons have won seven of their last eight games and hit five home runs at the Eller Media Stadium Classic… Pendilton picked up her first collegiate RBI when she drove in Peterson with a single to right field in the fifth inning.