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Blue Demons Battle Back But Fall Short
Kirsten Verdun was 2-for-4 with an RBI in Saturday's 4-3 BIG EAST loss at Notre Dame.

Kirsten Verdun was 2-for-4 with an RBI in Saturday's 4-3 BIG EAST loss at Notre Dame.

April 21, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After 11 scoreless innings on Saturday, DePaul finally put up a crooked number.

It just wasn't crooked enough.

The Blue Demons' comeback attempt fell one run short in a 4-3, BIG EAST Conference loss to Notre Dame in the second game of a doubleheader.

In the opener, ace Laura Winter pitched a no-hitter in the Fighting Irish's 3-0 win.

Notre Dame (25-12, 7-3 in BIG EAST) seized a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning behind Amy Buntin's RBI single and Dani Miller's two-run home run.

Back came DePaul (26-16, 8-5) in the top of the fifth. Bree Brown greeted relief pitcher Brittany O'Donnell with a single to center. Winter had pitched the first four innings. Ali Warren walked and gave way to pinch-runner Amanda Mener.

Allie Braden's infield single loaded the bases for Kirsten Verdun who promptly singled to right and brought Brown home. Lynsey Ciezki's grounder scored Mener to make it 3-2.

That was enough for Notre Dame coach Deanna Gumpf who quickly brought Winter back into the pitching circle.

Undaunted, Mary Connolly ripped a base hit that sent Verdun home with the tying run.Katelyn Braget hit a fly ball to center field and Ciezki was called out at home trying to tag up from third.

The Irish won it in the bottom of the sixth when Alexa Maldonado scored on a wild pitch.

"The first game, we didn't have a chance," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "Winter is a good pitcher, and we knew she had great control. She only had 15 walks in 155 innings.

"We needed to attack her early in the count, but sometimes our players have a different game plan than the coaches."

Winter presided over the string of 11 consecutive scoreless innings and wasn't charged with a run in her 13.2 innings of work Saturday. She gave up a total of six hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.

Both Lenti and Gumpf started their aces again in the nightcap.

"Notre Dame is in the same situation as we are," Lenti said. "We're both trying to stay alive in the BIG EAST race by winning as many games as possible. We're both fighting to make the BIG EAST playoffs and to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

"We showed a lot more life in the second game and battled back to tie it. Lynsey's play at home was real close, and of course, we all thought she was safe. If she scores there, it's a whole different ballgame."

Instead, it will be the Irish going for a series sweep at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

"We've got to pull up our bootstraps and find a way to win," Lenti said. "Let's see if Verdun can find a way to make it happen. We'll go with her and I'm sure Notre Dame will go with Winter.

"They have seen a lot of Verdun and we've seen a lot of Winter. Let's have at it and see if we can make a difference."

NOTES: Verdun was 2-for-4 with an RBI while Allie Braden was 2-for-3 with a run scored... Samantha Dodd was 2-for-3 and Bree Brown was 1-for-3 and scored a run... Ciezki and Connolly were each 1-for-4 with an RBI apiece while Mener scored a run... Verdun went 5.1 innings giving up four runs and five hits with six strikeouts and two walks... Hannah Penna pitched 0.2 of an inning in relief giving up one hit... for the first time this season, the Blue Demons have lost three in a row... DePaul entered the week as the No. 7 defensive team in the country... Verdun's streak of reaching base 14 games in a row came to an end in game one... Connolly's 11-game stretch of reaching base was also snapped... Dodd leads the team with a .369 batting average while Verdun (.363) is second... Dodd and Verdun are tied for the lead in hits with 45... Verdun is tops in home runs with nine and RBIs with 35... Ciezki's 26 runs lead the Blue Demons... Verdun leads DePaul with an 18-9 record, 1.80 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .214.