CHICAGO - The DePaul softball team is moving on to the BIG EAST championship for the second year in a row as the Blue Demons downed Villanova with a 12-2 run-rule victory in the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament.
For the 32nd time in 2018, DePaul (34-15) scored first, taking advantage of a Villanova throwing error in the bottom of the first. With Jessica Cothern on second, designated player Morgan Greenwood connected with an RBI-single to right to plate the first Blue Demon run of the contest.
Villanova (27-24-2) battled back in top of the second to take a 2-1 lead off a two-run home run by Dana Morris. Nikki Alden reached on a four-pitch walk prior to Morris' blast over the left field fence.
The Blue Demons regained the lead in the bottom of the third, plating six runs in the inning. With the bases loaded on three consecutive walks, Greenwood hit a chopper to first that scored second baseman Skylor Hilger from third to tie the game at 2-2. A pitch later, right fielder Megan Leyva gave DePaul the 3-2 advantage with an RBI-single to shallow right field.
More runs continued to cross the plate for DePaul in the bottom of the third. With runners on second and third, Alysia Rodriguez extended the Blue Demons' lead to 4-2, beating out a chopper to short. Rodriguez then stole second base to put runners back on second and third as center fielder Angela Scalzitti stepped to the plate. On a 1-1 count, Scalzitti ripped a liner over the left field fence for a three-run home run. Scalzitti's blast was her second career home run as she hit a grand slam against Butler earlier this season.
In the bottom of the fourth, DePaul added five more insurance runs to enact the run-rule with a 12-2 lead. The Blue Demons first scored on an RBI-double by Cothern. Prior to Cothern's two-bagger, left fielder Kate Polucha led off the inning with a stand-up triple to the left-center gap. With the bases loaded, an error by Villanova's catcher allowed two more Blue Demons to cross the plate for the 10-2 advantage while a two-run double by Scalzitti pushed the gap to 12-2.
In the center circle, Missy Zoch (15-5) went the distance for DePaul in the 12-2, run-rule victory. The right hander allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out six in five innings of work.
With Friday's victory, DePaul advances to the BIG EAST tournament championship where the Blue Demons will face second-seeded Creighton. The championship game will take place at 1 p.m. on FS2.
Game Notes •DePaul leads the all-time series against Villanova 25-4. •The Blue Demons have won nine straight contests against BIG EAST opponents. •With Friday's win, DePaul is in the BIG EAST championship game for the second straight season. •The Royal Blue and Scarlet is 28-4 when they score first. •Friday's semifinal vs. Villanova was Coach Lenti's 2000th career game coached. •In Rosemont, Ill., the Blue Demons are 6-0 in 2018.