CHICAGO - The celebration begins in Chicago as the DePaul softball team captured the 2018 BIG EAST tournament title with a 6-2 win over second-seeded Creighton on Saturday afternoon.The Blue Demons captured their fourth all-time BIG EAST tournament title (2008, 2014, 2017, 2018) successfully picking up back-to-back championships.
In head coach Eugene Lenti's 2001st game as the Blue Demons' skipper, DePaul (35-15) waited out an almost two-hour long rain delay to capture the 2018 championship.
Creighton (28-15) struck first in the opening inning of play, taking a 2-0 lead on an RBI-single to left by Kelly Finan and RBI-double to center by Hope Moreno.A leadoff double by Ashley Cantu started the inning for the Bluejays while a sacrifice bunt by Sam Crowley moved Cantu within 60 feet of the plate.On a 2-2 count, Finan pushed a chopper through the left side of the infield to drive in the Bluejays' first run of the afternoon.Later in the inning, Moreno lifted an RBI-double to the center field wall to give CU the 2-0 advantage.
DePaul bounced back in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 2-2.Right fielder Megan Leyva got the Blue Demons on the board with an RBI-triple, cutting Creighton's lead in half, 2-1.Catcher Jessica Cothern reached on a single to deep short prior to Leyva's shot off the right field wall. Five pitches later, Angela Scalzitti collected her sixth RBI of the BIG EAST tournament with an RBI-single to right, allowing Leyva to cross the plate and tie the contest at 2-2.
An inning later, DePaul took its first lead of the contest at 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to deep left-center by Kate Polucha.The Blue Demons loaded the bases prior to the fly ball as Alysia Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, Haydn Christensen walked on four pitches, and Skylor Hilger reached on an infield bunt single.
A lighting and rain delay starting at 1:51 p.m. halted action for an hour and 41 minutes before play resumed.
Leyva got the rally rolling again in the bottom of the fifth launching a two-run home run over the left field fence to push DePaul's lead to 5-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Demons added one final insurance run as Cothern drove an RBI-single up the middle to round out DePaul's sixth and final run of the contest.
Missy Zoch (16-5) picked up the win for DePaul, providing the Blue Demons with four innings of work in the center circle.Zoch allowed just two runs on five hits while striking out five Bluejays.Freshman Pat Moore came on in the fifth to provide DePaul with three scoreless innings of relief, picking up her third save of 2018.
For her individual effort throughout the tournament, Leyva was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.Joining Leyva on the BIG EAST's All-Tournament team were Scalzitti, Zoch, and Polucha.
With Saturday's victory, DePaul punches its ticket to the NCAA tournament.The Blue Demons will learn which regional they will compete in on Sunday at 9 p.m. CT during the NCAA Softball Championship Selection Show on ESPN2.
Game Notes DePaul leads the all-time series against Creighton 16-7. The Blue Demons have won 10 straight contests against BIG EAST opponents. Coach Lenti's squad has defeated Creighton on eight straight occasions. DPU is 17-9 all-time in BIG EAST tournament games. In Rosemont, Ill., the Blue Demons are 7-0 in 2018.