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Verdun Dominant Again in 4-0 Three-Hitter Over Loyola
Kirsten Verdun tied a career high with 15 strikeouts in Thursday's 4-0 victory over North Side rival Loyola.

Kirsten Verdun tied a career high with 15 strikeouts in Thursday's 4-0 victory over North Side rival Loyola.

April 25, 2013

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CHICAGO - What Kirsten Verdun has accomplished over the last 28 hours is nothing short of amazing.

DePaul's junior ace pitched her third consecutive shutout on Thursday in leading the Blue Demons to a 4-0, nonconference victory over North Side rival Loyola at Cacciatore Stadium.

This came right after Verdun had pitched both ends of a doubleheader on Wednesday in Queens, N.Y., shutting down St. John's 11-0 in five innings and 4-0.

A flight delay prevented the team from returning to Lincoln Park until midnight. You might think Verdun would be just a little worn out when she took the pitching circle against the Ramblers.

Guess again.

The dominant left-hander had eight strikeouts in the first three innings including six in a row in the second and third innings. She wound up tying her career high of 15 strikeouts in the three-hitter.

"No, fatigue wasn't an issue," Verdun said. "We do a lot of cardio and stuff in our free time that keeps our legs strong.

"The biggest thing these last three games is I'm avoiding the walks and hit-batsmen. Also, getting ahead in the count makes my changeup and dropball much more effective."

Verdun was in sync all afternoon with home plate umpire Joe Thompson.

"He gave both pitchers a big outside corner," Verdun said. "Once you find a weakness in the hitter, you want to live there. I found that spot and took advantage of it with outside pitches."

Verdun (19-9) has been in a zone the last three games. During this streak of 19 scoreless innings, she has allowed just 10 hits while racking up 30 strikeouts and only three walks.

"When Verdun has her changeup and dropball going, she is a difficult pitcher to hit," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "The three hits Loyola got were a bunt single, infield single and a bloop.

"The way she was pitching, I felt really confident after we got those first two runs."

All DePaul (27-16) would need on this day was Hannah Penna's clutch two-out, two-run double in the first inning that brought home Verdun and Mary Connolly.

"The first pitch from (Loyola ace Brittany Gardner) was outside, so I figured she would come back there again," Penna said. "It was in the same spot. I saw it and drove it into right field.

"Bree Brown talked to me before the game. She said now that she is hurt, this is my chance to pick her up."

The Blue Demons picked up another run in the fourth on Samantha Dodd's RBI single that scored Paige Peterson. Two innings later, Verdun drove a single to right field that brought Dodd home as Loyola fell to 23-16.

"Coming off a long day on Wednesday with the doubleheader, all the travel and the flight delay, I'm proud of the way they responded today," Lenti said. "It speaks to their focus and fortitude how they came to play after getting home at midnight."

The Blue Demons will ride a hot pitcher into a three-game, BIG EAST Conference weekend showdown with Notre Dame at Cacciatore Stadium that kicks off with a noon doubleheader on Saturday.

NOTES: The St. John's doubleheader and Loyola game is the best Verdun has pitched all season... it's the first time this season DePaul has recorded three shutouts in a row... Verdun threw 106 pitches with 71 for strikes... Dodd was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run... Allie Braden was 2-for-4, and combined with Dodd to reach base five times... Connolly, Verdun, Penna, Peterson, Gena Lenti and Marsha Pendilton each had one hit... the Blue Demons coaxed five walks out of Gardner.