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Penna Sparkles in 12-Strikeout Home Debut on Good Friday
Mary Connolly sparked the Blue Demon offense with a two-run homer in Friday's 7-2 win over Pittsburgh.

Mary Connolly sparked the Blue Demon offense with a two-run homer in Friday's 7-2 win over Pittsburgh.

March 29, 2013

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CHICAGO - Hannah Penna was right on target in a sparkling Cacciatore Stadium season debut on Good Friday.

In one of her most memorable performances, the junior right-hander struck out a season-high 12 in pitching DePaul to a 7-2 BIG EAST Conference victory over Pittsburgh.

Her timing couldn't have been better, coming just after the Blue Demons had lost the opener of their doubleheader to Pitt 2-0.

"I knew we needed a win," said Penna, who scattered five hits and did not give up an earned run. "As long as I have my team behind me and the offense hits like that, we can have good games against anybody."

Penna (6-5) struck out five of the first six batters and had the Panthers off-balance.

"The screwball was my go-to pitch today," Penna said. "I was really on with that pitch, and that's how I got those strikeouts in the first two innings.

"I needed to hit the corners hard and keep the ball low. When I get the ball over the middle, it was getting me in trouble."

DePaul (17-13, 4-1 in the BIG EAST) jumped out to quick 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles by Paige Peterson and Megan Coronado.

The Blue Demons added three more runs in the third with Peterson and Bree Brown coming through with RBI singles. Pittsburgh (14-14, 3-2) gave up a walk and committed two errors in the inning.

The Panthers scored on a passed ball in the fifth, but DePaul answered with Mary Connolly's booming home run over the center-field fence. It was a team-leading seventh homer for Connolly.

"That first game, you're not going to win a game with two hits," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "You're not going to score a lot of runs in every game, so that's when the pitching has to step up.

"Hannah had a great game and stepped up at the right time. That's the Hannah we know, and if she can pitch like that, there isn't anybody left on our schedule that she can't beat.

"Offensively, we put more balls in play in the second game and forced them to make plays. Then, Mary's two-run homer was like icing on the cake."

The Blue Demons will go for the series win at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

NOTES: In seven innings, Penna gave up a pair of unearned runs with the 12 strikeouts and four walks... the Panthers hit .200 against her... Peterson was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Connolly 2-for-4 with the home run and two RBIs... Brown was 1-for-3 with an RBI and Coronado 1-for-4 with an RBI... Samantha Dodd had a hit and scored three runs... Allie Braden was 1-for-3 and Allie Warren contributed a pinch-hit single.