Verdun Powers DePaul Past No. 11 Louisville
April 1, 2012
CHICAGO - The Blue Demons sent a message to the rest of the BIG EAST Conference on Sunday---we are a lot better than our record.
No. 11 Louisville found that out first-hand at Cacciatore Stadium as DePaul's 3-0 victory gave the home team an important series win.
It was a Kirsten Verdun kind of a day as the sophomore left-hander fired a three-hitter and also won the game with a three-run home run.
"The win, in more ways, goes to her," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "It was a great effort, and it all started with Kirsten on the mound.
"She did a tremendous job---seven zeroes on the board---and she hit the big home run.
"(Louisville) came in here a pretty high-profile offensive team with one of the better batting averages in the country and hitting a lot of home runs. We out-homered them, outperformed them in pretty much every phase of the game and came away winning two out of three."
Verdun (11-5) limited Louisville (29-2, 4-2) to a pair of hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks. She delivered the decisive blow in the bottom of the first inning after Lynsey Ciezki reached on a one-out error and Samantha Dodd walked.
"I knew she (Louisville pitcher Caralisa Connell) would throw me outside because that's where she had pitched me yesterday," Verdun said. "I stayed back on the outside pitch, trusted my hands and when I hit it, I knew it was gone."
Verdun's team-leading seventh home run and three RBIs were all she needed on Sunday as DePaul improved to 18-11 overall and 2-1 in the BIG EAST.
"We needed to prove this weekend that our record doesn't show how good we are," Verdun said. "Playing the top teams in the country has definitely paid off."
Of the Blue Demons' 11 losses, three came to No. 1 California and No. 1 Alabama (twice), one to No. 3 Washington and one to No. 7 Oklahoma.
"Louisville came into this weekend undefeated, and that's quite an accomplishment," Verdun said. "But we had played against tougher competition.
"It was like coach Lenti had told us. We weren't going to see any hitters better than the ones we had alredy faced or any pitchers better than the ones from California, Alabama, Washington and Oklahoma. That gave us confidence against Louisville."
Having beaten the Cardinals 7-1 on Saturday, Verdun realized she would have to be even sharper facing the same lineup just 24 hours later.
"It was important to get ahead in the count and hit my spots," Verdun said. "I did that, especially with my changeup, and it paid off. The changeup and screwball were my go-to pitches. With my curveball and screwball both working, their batters couldn't focus on just one side of the plate."
None of Louisville's hits left the park all weekend after the Cardinals came into Cacciatore Stadium with a 25-5 advantage in home runs against their opponents.
"All weekend, I focused on getting ahead of batters and producing ground-ball and fly-ball outs," Verdun said. "Keeping the ball in the park and letting our defense make the plays was a huge strategy for me."
Verdun and DePaul will look to keep this momentum going on Tuesday when they visit Loyola Chicago.
NOTES: DePaul has four wins over teams ranked in the nation's Top 25... Verdun paced the Blue Demons' four-hit attack on Sunday going 1-for-2 with the three-run homer... Dodd was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored... Lynsey Ciezki was 1-for-3 and Brittany Boesel was 1-for-2... Louisville's only threat came in the sixth inning when the Cards opened the inning with back-to-back singles... but DePaul's infield defense responded by turning three ground balls into outs... Verdun carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning... on the season, Dodd leads the team in batting at .400 and is followed by Verdun (.368, seven home runs, 29 RBIs), Allie Braden (.311), Ciezki (.310), Mary Connolly (.296, five homers, 18 RBIs) while Katelyn Braget has six home runs and 16 RBIs... the Blue Demons are outhitting their opponents .291-.244 and outscoring those teams 137-91... they outscored Louisville 13-5 over the weekend... Verdun is 11-5 with a 2.00 ERA while Bree Brown is 4-3 with a 3.11 ERA... Hannah Penna is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA... former assistant coach Liz Jagielski and ex-outfielder Sean Plese were in the crowd of 706 at Cacciatore Stadium on Sunday.