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DePaul Just Misses Sweep of No. 11 Louisville
Mary Connolly had a clutch two-run single in DePaul's 4-3 loss to No. 11/11 Louisville on Saturday.

Mary Connolly had a clutch two-run single in DePaul's 4-3 loss to No. 11/11 Louisville on Saturday.

March 31, 2012

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CHICAGO - The Blue Demons were looking to ignite a rally with their most dangerous hitter coming to the plate.

That's when No. 11/11 Louisville pitched around Katelyn Braget and held on for a 4-3 win over DePaul in the second game of Saturday's home-opening doubleheader.

In the first game, Braget had blasted a pair of home runs off Louisville ace Tori Collins in the Blue Demons' 7-1 victory that was the first loss for the Cardinals after opening the season with a 28-game winning streak. It was quite a way for DePaul to open its BIG EAST Conference season.

Louisville had brought in Collins to close out the nightcap at Cacciatore stadium.

But in the bottom of the seventh with nobody on base and one out, the Cardinals took Collins out and brought in Chelsea Leonard to face Braget.

"I was kind of surprised," said Braget, who hit her homers off Collins. "I was seeing the ball and hitting well off her."

Braget proceeded to rip a single to left field, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and stole third. But Mary Connolly and Paige Peterson were unable to bring home the tying run.

"We gave them the two early runs and then came back to tie it," Braget said about game two. "We didn't hit well enough or score enough runs after the first inning."

Louisville (29-1, 4-1 in the BIG EAST) scored twice off Blue Demon starter Bree Brown in the top of the first. DePaul (17-11, 1-1) retaliated immediately with Connolly's two-run single in the bottom of the first.

Kristin Austin's RBI double and Alicja Wolny's run-scoring single in the fifth gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead.

Back came the Blue Demons again as consecutive singles by Allie Braden, Samantha Dodd and Kirsten Verdun cut the deficit to 4-3.

"It was a great first game and a so-so second game," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "Verdun dominated from the mound in the first game (three-hitter), and we're usually as good as our pitching.

"In the second game, we didn't have the pitching or the defense. Braget had a great game in the opener with the two home runs, and this is what you need your seniors to do."

Braget said she went with the pitch on her first home run.

"You don't think---just hit the ball," Braget said about the blast over the right-field fence. "With the second home run, since she pitched me outside the first time, I figured she would come inside the next time. I hit it right on the sweet spot over the fence in left field.

"Beating Louisville for their first loss was big. We weren't expected to come out like that.

"Kirsten was a bulldog out there. When you put her on the mound, we know she's going to do something. All we've got to do is back her up."

All that's left is the rubber game at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

"We've seen all three of their pitchers now," Lenti said. "That should help us. We have a couple of pitchers that they haven't seen yet."

NOTES: DePaul has now beaten three teams ranked in the Top 25 this season... Braget was 3-for-7 in the doubleheader with three RBIs and two runs...her six home runs are tied for the team lead with Verdun... Connolly was 3-for-7 in the doubleheader with three RBIs and one run... Braden was 3-for-4 in the second game and 3-for-7 overall with two runs on Saturday... Verdun was 2-for-6 with one RBI and Ciezki was also 2-for-6 with one RBI and one run... Dodd went 2-for-7... Brown pitched seven innings and gave up four runs on 10 hits while striking out six and walking one... Dodd leads DePaul with a .398 batting average and is followed by Verdun (.365, 26 RBIs), Braden (.328), Ciezki (.310, 21 runs) and Connolly (.308, 18 RBIs)... in the circle, Verdun is 10-5 with a 2.16 ERA and Brown is 4-3 with a 3.11 ERA.