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Verdun Assumes Burden for Blue Demons
Kirsten Verdun's solo home run proved to be the winning run in Sunday's 3-0 BIG EAST win over Seton Hall.

Kirsten Verdun's solo home run proved to be the winning run in Sunday's 3-0 BIG EAST win over Seton Hall.

April 29, 2012

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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - Kirsten Verdun is ready to do whatever the Blue Demons need from their best player.

On Sunday, it was making her sixth start of the week and hitting a game-winning home run in DePaul's efficient 3-0 BIG EAST Conference victory over Seton Hall.

The three-game series sweep improved the Blue Demons to 31-18 overall and 12-7 in the BIG EAST, where they have clinched a berth in the conference tournament.

In her first at-bat, Verdun sent a Danielle DeStaso delivery well beyond the fence in right-center for the only run she would need.

"It was a full count with two outs and she left it a little up," Verdun said. "I just try to play my role, no matter what it is.

"If putting the best team on the field means having me play first base or DH, then that's what I will do."

DePaul's best chance to win is with Verdun on the mound.

What if that means the sophomore left-hander will be starting every game for the rest of the season?

"I'm ready for it," said Verdun, who made 40 starts in her senior year at Coal City High School and led the Coalers to a state title going 40-0. "Eug (DePaul coach Eugene Lenti) told me that could happen.

"It's not like I haven't done it before. The situation that we're in, you've just got to pull through for the team."

Verdun has made 33 starts so far and pitched 27 complete games.

Seton Hall (20-30, 2-17) had leadoff singles in the third and fourth innings and opened the fifth with a pair of singles. Each time, Verdun prevailed en route to a four-hit shutout.

"There were a few innings where she struggled a little bit," Lenti said. "But she pitched hard to get out of those situations.

"She is the type of kid that can carry a team, but we don't want to rely on that. She is a very good hitter and our most consistent pitcher."

In the top of the sixth, Samantha Dodd was hit by a pitch with two out, and advanced to third on Verdun's single to right field. Verdun stole second and advanced to third on the wild pitch that brought Dodd home.

Mary Connolly walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Staci Bonezek, who promptly stole second. An error on the play allowed Verdun to score.

"I always come to the plate looking to help us get out of any slump," said Verdun who had two of DePaul's four hits on Sunday. "To do it with one swing is incredible. I try to get a hit when it really counts.

"The problem today pitching was missing my spots. You don't want to let the leadoff batter get on base because that makes it harder for me and the team.

"The defense did a phenomenal job today. My teammates made all the plays they were supposed to make and some difficult plays. They really came through for me."

Verdun's likely next start comes on Wednesday when the Blue Demons face Northwestern in a 4 p.m. game at Cacciatore Stadium.

NOTES: Verdun had quite a week both offensively and from the mound... she batted .556 with two home runs, five RBIs and five runs scored... in the circle, she was 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 41 innings... opponents hit just .184 against her... highlighting her pitching was the 27 strikeouts in a doubleheader split with Syracuse... in DePaul's four-hit attack on Sunday, Verdun had two hits while Paige Peterson and Bree Brown had the other hits... on the season, Verdun leads the Blue Demons with a .386 batting average, 11 home runs, 40 RBIs, 12 doubles and 56 hits... Dodd is hitting .352 and is followed by Allie Braden (.290), Connolly (.289, five homers, 28 RBIs) and Lynsey Ciezki (.288, team-high 30 runs) while Katelyn Braget has seven home runs and 27 RBIs... Verdun is 22-11 with a 1,73 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 210 innings this season... she will carry an eight-game hitting streak into the game on Wednesday.