Connolly Makes Sure Blue Demons Have a Happy Easter
March 30, 2013
CHICAGO - Mary Connolly stepped to the plate knowing that a loss on Saturday would result in a 7 a.m. practice on Easter Sunday.
No wonder the power-hitting sophomore smashed a three-run home run over the center-field fence to spark DePaul's 4-1 BIG EAST Conference victory over Pittsburgh at Cacciatore Stadium.
"Coach (Eugene Lenti) told us before the game that if we lost to Pittsburgh, we would be practicing real early on Easter Sunday," Connolly said. "I didn't want that to happen.
"Staci Bonezek (bunt single) and Samantha Dodd (infield single) had done a good job of getting on base. There were two outs and two strikes on me. With all that speed on the bases, I was just trying to hit the ball in the gap.
"Sam (assistant coach Samantha Findlay) gave a sign and I made a quick adjustment. The pitch was down the middle and the contact felt great."
It was Connolly's team-leading eighth home run and her second in two games as DePaul (18-13, 5-1 in the BIG EAST) dropped the opener of the series before winning the final two games.
"We had timely hitting today, and Mary's homer was awesome," Lenti said about the third-inning outburst. "Staci executed a perfect bunt and Sam beat out an infield hit. And after Kirsten Verdun walked, Paige Peterson followed with an RBI double.
"What we've got to do now is be more consistent. We have to bring this kind of effort and execution to every game."
Winning pitcher Verdun (12-7) easily made the four runs hold up. The junior ace limited Pittsburgh (14-15, 3-3) to three hits while recording 12 strikeouts and no walks.
"Verdun did a great job," Lenti said. "They had runners on second and third with no outs in the second. That could have been a big inning for Pitt. Instead, she came back and struck out the side.
"She had a lot going for her today. The screwball, riseball, drop, curve and changeup were all working for her, and she was getting a lot of people out with those five pitches."
Connolly made sure Verdun was rewarded for her outing.
"Hitting is contagious as you saw in Providence," Connolly said about the Blue Demons scoring 31 runs in last week's three-game sweep. "Once we get a spark, we can be unstoppable. And once it starts, this team is on fire."
DePaul returns to Cacciatore Stadium for an 11 a.m. BIG EAST doubleheader on Wednesday. It's also the annual Field Trip Day when the stadium will be packed with a loud contingent of school children.
NOTES: Along with Connolly's blast, Megan Coronado was 2-for-3 and Peterson 1-for-3 with the RBI... Bonezek and Dodd had the other hits for the Blue Demons... for the three-game series, Peterson hit .444 with three RBIs... Connolly batted .333 with two home runs and five RBIs while Coronado hit .300... on the season, Braden leads the team in hitting (.378), hits (37), doubles (nine) and runs (25)... Connolly is batting .302 and is tops in home runs with eight and RBIs with 20... DePaul has won five of its last six games.