Tournament MOP Kirsten Verdun Pitches DePaul 3-0 Win, BIG EAST Title
May 10, 2014
ROSEMONT, Ill. – Another superb pitching performance by senior Kirsten Verdun led DePaul softball to its second-ever BIG EAST Conference tournament title, as the Blue Demons beat St. John’s 3-0 on Saturday at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
DePaul’s lefty ace (30-5) was named tourney MVP after firing seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven while pitching out of several jams. With the win, the Blue Demons clinch a bid into the NCAA Tournament with a 41-9 overall record.
"It was obviously more of a pitcher's duel today and Kirsten was just a little bit better," said head coach Eugene Lenti. "It was one of her better games of the year, she had all her pitches, was changing speeds and getting ahead. It was a masterful job on the mounds and it saved us because we weren't hitting or defending on all cyclinders."
Dylan Christensen drew a bases-loaded walk and St. John’s helped DePaul score its other two runs on a third-inning error as the Blue Demon offense was continually stifled with runners in scoring position. DePaul left 11 total runners on base, including stranding the bases-loaded three times. The team still dirtied the plate enough for Verdun, who rumbled through 2014 with a 15-0 record against BIG EAST opponents.
"The 11 runners left was a little uncharacteristic for us, but you have to give their pitcher credit for that," said Lenti.
St. John’s hurler Tori Free fell to 13-15 overall with loss, allowing just one earned run but walking eight in six shaky innings as the Red Storm finished their season at 28-23 overall.
DePaul threatened early and oftent, but left the bases loaded in the first and stranded another in the second as Verdun mowed down St. John’s in order in back-to-back frames.
The Red Storm picked up their first hit in the third on a single up the middle by Lexi Robles, but Staci Bonezek caught her stealing to end the inning.
The Blue Demons got on the board in the third as Morgan Maize sent a grounder towards second, forcing a rushed throw that flew past first and brought Christensen and Coronado around to score.
An inning later, Christensen worked a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth to make it 3-0.
The Red Storm had another golden opportunity thwarted in the fifth after a pair of errors by Braden put runners on the corners with one out. Verdun induced a fly out and ground out, however, and the Blue Demons were able to escape with the lead intact.
In the sixth, Jackie Reed supplied a lead-off double for St. John’s but Verdun recovered to get the next three and snuff another potential rally. Both teams went down in order in the next two half-innings.
"There's some great players in the BIG EAST and some really good ones in this tournament, so it means a lot to be named Most Outstanding Player," said Verdun. "I don't think I could have been in this position without my team, because Most Outstanding Player always goes to the winning team. My team won the championship, I didn't win. So it's just a tribute to the people behind me."
DePaul will now await to learn its fate for the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and will make its first appearance since 2012. The selection show will take place Sunday, May 11 at 9 p.m. CT.
Notes: DePaul wins its second-ever BIG EAST Championship crown and its first since 2008… the Blue Demons improved to 2-1 all-time in the title game… the Blue Demons will make their first NCAA appearance since 2012 and 18th in program history after locking up an automatic bid... DePaul has beaten St. John’s in eight-straight games... Verdun finished 15-0 against conference opponents this season… the shutout was the 32nd of Verdun’s career, tying her for second in DePaul history with Sarah Martz (32, 2001-04)… DePaul out-scored the Johnnies 24-1 in three meetings this season… the Blue Demons improved to 28-0 when holding its opponent to two runs or less… DePaul is now 33-4 when scoring the first run of the game…
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