Braden's Bat, Verdun's Arm Carry Blue Demons to Sunday
May 17, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Allie Braden’s bat and Kirsten Verdun’s arm came up big again as DePaul survived a crazy nightcap, defeating James Madison 4-3 in a rematch to advance to a Sunday game against hosting Kentucky.
First pitch at John Cropp Stadium is scheduled for Noon CT. Should the Blue Demons win, another game will follow at 2:30 p.m. CT for the right to move to Super Regionals.
With their backs to the wall all day, DePaul’s seniors came up big over and over. Braden, the Blue Demons’ fourth-year shortstop, made her 141st straight start and went 5-for-6 combined over both wins, slugging a two-run homer in the fourth against JMU and knocking in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Verdun went the distance to improve to 32-6, firing seven innings and allowing just one earned run to go with four strikeouts.
In the first, Braden tripled with one out to put pressure on JMU immediately. Connolly came up next and singled up the middle on the first pitch she saw to make it a 1-0 ballgame. Christensen followed with a double to right center, but was stranded along with Connolly after back-to-back grounders to the pitcher.
The Blue Demons loaded up the bases in the second with one out, but Braden grounded out to force a play at the plate and Connolly was retired on a fly ball to end the threat.
Through four, the Blue Demons still led 1-0 but had stranded six.
In the fourth, DePaul recorded two outs before an error by the JMU shortstop extended the inning by allowing Verdun to reach first. Braden strode to the plate next and smoked a shot past the foul pole in right to increase the Blue Demon lead to 3-0.
JMU got a run back in the fifth on a sacrifice fly, but a fantastic defensive play by Brittany Boesel saved another run on the ensuing play and kept it 3-1.
In the sixth, back-to-back throwing errors by DePaul allowed JMU to tie the game at 3-3.
DePaul rebounded quick, however, getting a leadoff single by Gena Lenti and another by Verdun to put runners on first and third. Braden followed with a sacrifice fly to reclaim the lead.
JMU’s Tahli Moore led of the sixth with a single to left, but Staci Bonezek gunned her down attempting to steal second for the first out. Back-to-back ground balls then sealed the game.
Notes: DePaul improved to 44-36 all-time in NCAA Tournament games... Braden tied a career-high with seven total bases and set a career mark with three RBI... with a run in the first, the Blue Demons have now out-scored their opponents 77-17 in the first inning this year and improved to 35-5 when scoring first... DePaul's 43 wins are its most since winning 51 in 2008... Verdun's 32nd win ties her for third all-time in a single season in program history with Lindsay Chouinard (2002)...