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Connolly and Maize Save the Day for DePaul
Kirsten Verdun went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in Saturday's 5-4 BIG EAST win over Connecticut.

Kirsten Verdun went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in Saturday's 5-4 BIG EAST win over Connecticut.

May 4, 2013

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STORRS, Conn. - When DePaul put its trust in a pair of college pitching novices Saturday, Mary Connolly and Morgan Maize came through in a big way.

Connolly notched her first collegiate win and Maize her first college save in the Blue Demons' nerve-wracking 5-4 BIG EAST Conference victory over Connecticut.

First of all, put yourself in Maize's shoes. The freshman from Leyden had pitched nine innings all season and was brought in to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on first base and no outs.

Just a couple hours earlier, DePaul (30-20, 15-6 in the BIG EAST) had squandered a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh only to see UConn (26-26, 8-13) rally for a 3-2 win in eight innings.

"It went through my head," Maize said about the late collapse. "But I tried to get it out of my head by focusing on getting Mary her first win.

"I was very nervous and walked the first batter. That made me even more nervous. I was trying to keep my composure because I knew the team really needed me. I could hear them cheering for me from the field and in the dugout."

Maize's first pressure situation of the season eased a bit after Audrey Grinnell fouled out to third. She was right back into the fire after Jacklyn Dubois singled to load the bases.

"I had a lot of confidence in her," said Connolly who gave up four runs and 10 hits with three strikeouts and no walks. "Morgan hits her spots real well and has good composure on the mound. You couldn't tell she was nervous."

Another foul out and a grounder to shortstop Allie Braden finally ended the suspense for the Blue Demons.

"Morgan did a real good job," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "I told her that if anybody got on base in the seventh, she was coming in for Mary. She went in and got the job done.

"Mary battled her way to that first college win. She gave us the lift we needed after losing the first game."

Kirsten Verdun's RBI double that scored Gena Lenti in the first inning provided a quick 1-0 lead. An inning later DePaul made it 3-0 behind Samantha Dodd's RBI single and Connolly's RBI double.

Connecticut came back with a three-spot in the bottom of the second as the Huskies fought to keep their BIG EAST playoff hopes alive.

Verdun drove in Gena Lenti again in the fourth with an infield single. DePaul added another insurance run in the sixth when Ali Lenti's grounder resulted in an error that brought home pinch-runner Cherelle Chambers.

UConn closed to 5-4 in the bottom of the inning on Maddy Schiappa's run-scoring single.

"Morgan and I do most of our pitching in practice trying to help out our hitters," Connolly said. "Kirsten Verdun and Hannah Penna do most of the pitching in games.

"It was important that we were able to contribute like we did today, especially after we lost the first game. Things were starting to fall apart, and our whole team came back and put it all together in the second game."

Connolly, Maize and their teammates will go for the series win at 11 a.m. on Sunday in the final game of the BIG EAST season.

NOTES: Heading up DePaul's 13-hit attack was Verdun who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs... Dodd was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI... Gena Lenti was 2-for-4 and scored twice... Connolly was 1-for-3 with an RBI... Ali Lenti, Kali Gardner, Paige Peterson, Staci Bonezek and Allie Braden each had a hit... in Maize's one inning of work, she gave up one hit and walked one... coming into the game, Maize had only pitched 9.1 innings and Connolly 11.2 innings this season... this was the seventh appearance for both... it was Connolly's second start of the season... DePaul is now 10-4 in away games compared to 8-6 at home.