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Braden, Connolly Blast DePaul Past Loyola, 9-1
Allie Braden delivered her second homer of the season on Thursday evening.

Allie Braden delivered her second homer of the season on Thursday evening.

April 10, 2014

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­­CHICAGO – If the Blue Demons looked right at home during this Thursday road game---it’s because they were.

Poor field conditions at Loyola Softball Park forced the Ramblers to move their nonconference “home” game to Cacciatore Stadium where DePaul won its eighth in a row by a run-rule score of 9-1.

Home runs by Mary Connolly and Allie Braden ignited the Blue Demon attack in this five-inning game.

The Blue Demons improved to 26-8 on the season as winning pitcher Kirsten Verdun raised her record to 18-5. She didn’t give up a hit until the bottom of the fourth inning as Loyola Chicago fell to 14-20.

“The defense was spectacular and the hitting was very timely,” said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. “Anytime you get as many runs as hits, it’s a great day. We were effective early and late.

“Verdun wasn’t real sharp even though she only gave up two hits. She had more walks (four) than we would have liked. Anytime you get ahead early, you should pound the strike zone.

“Allie Braden is getting hot at the right time. That’s what you want from your seniors, to play their best towards the end of the season.”

DePaul’s offense didn’t waste any time in this latest renewal of the “Red-Line Rivalry,” putting up a three-spot in the top of the first inning.

After leading off the last two games with home runs, Verdun began this one with a line single to right field. Allie Braden walked and Mary Connolly ripped a base hit to left that loaded the bases.

Dylan Christensen’s sacrifice fly brought Verdun home and advanced the other two runners to second and third. Ali Lenti’s walk loaded the bases and Morgan Maize came through with a two-out, two-run single to left for a quick 3-0 lead.

The Blue Demons added a run in the third inning when Nicole Pihl singled, advanced to third on an error and fielder’s choice and came home on Staci Bonezek’s RBI grounder.

Connolly put a charge into an offering by Loyola starter Amanda Ciran in the top of the fourth with a two-run blast well beyond the left-field fence. It was Connolly’s team-leading ninth home run of the year. Braden scored ahead of her after singling to left.

The Ramblers got on the board in the bottom of the fourth on Alyssa Mannucci’s RBI single. DePaul came back with three in the fifth on Brittany Boesel’s RBI double and Braden’s two-run shot to right field.

“It felt great,” said Braden who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs. “I wasn’t sure if it was going out. I’m not exactly a home run hitter.

“We came out strong and didn’t take this team lightly. Two years ago we lost to Loyola when we didn’t play well. The next day, all we did was run suicides. I think that was in the back of our minds."

DePaul returns to Cacciatore Stadium for a noon BIG EAST Conference doubleheader on Saturday against Georgetown.

Notes: The eight-game winning streak is a season high for DePaul… Connolly extended her hitting streak to nine games while Braden is on an eight-game hitting streak… Braden has reached base safely in 13 consecutive games… Verdun appeared in and started her 200th career game... the win was the 90th of her career... after leading off the previous two games with a home run, Verdun opened up with a single against Loyola… Braden’s home run was her second of the season.