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DePaul's Late Rally Tops Massachusetts
Lynsey Ciezki drove in the winning run in DePaul's 3-0 win over Massachusetts in the NCAA Regionals.

Lynsey Ciezki drove in the winning run in DePaul's 3-0 win over Massachusetts in the NCAA Regionals.

May 18, 2012

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - DePaul's opening act in the "Show Me State" was a big hit on Friday.

The Blue Demons knocked off Massachusetts 3-0 in the NCAA Regional behind the two-hit pitching of Kirsten Verdun (27-13) and a late rally sparked by Lynsey Ciezki and Brittany Boesel.

DePaul (36-20) advances into the NCAA Championship winner's bracket for a 3 p.m. game on Saturday against No. 10/9 Missouri or Illinois State.

Boesel led off the sixth inning with a single down the left-field line and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Amanda Mener came in to run for Boesel. Allie Braden drew a walk.

Another wild pitch sent the runners to second and third. Ciezki came through with an RBI single to right field, scoring Mener. Samantha Dodd followed with an RBI groundout.

Keeping the line moving, Verdun ripped a single to center to bring Ciezki home for a 3-0 lead.

"With runners on second and third, I was just trying to hit the ball to the right side," Ciezki said. "She (Massachusetts starter Sara Plourde) pitched well with a lot of up spin and down spin.

"I don't strike out that much, and she got me twice."

DePaul coach Eugene Lenti made an adjustment beginning in the fifth inning.

"We moved our batters to the back of the box," Lenti said. "It helped our hitters to see the ball better. In the last two innings we started putting the ball in play.

"Lynsey, Kirsten and Sam came through for us. Verdun did a great job pitching."

Verdun's 40th start of the season equals the school record set by Sarah Martz in 2004. This was the sophomore left-hander's 19th consecutive start which includes pitching both ends of five doubleheaders.

"I knew it would be a battle after seeing all the numbers their pitcher was putting up," Verdun said about Plourde (36-10, 527 strikeouts). "She's a great pitcher, and I tried to hold them down until our offense broke through."

Massachusetts (38-12) had a runner on third base with one out in the top of the first when Verdun responded with a strikeout and groundout.

"It was a little nerve-wracking," Verdun said. "I had to bear down and make sure they didn't score."

With one on and one out in the top of the third, Allie Braden made a brilliant diving catch in the hole at shortstop to avert a potentially big inning.

The Blue Demons could not solve Plourde in the first four innings as the UMass ace retired the first 12 batters in succession.

Mary Connolly led off the fifth with a walk, breaking up Plourde's bid for a perfect game. Staci Bonezek ran for Connolly. Paige Peterson's groundout moved Bonezek to second. Bonezek then stole third, but Bree Brown fouled out to left field.

"It was a great game," Lenti said. "Verdun and our defense did a nice job and our offense came through in the end."

NOTES: Verdun is tied for fourth in most wins for a season... she is also third in strikeouts in a season, fourth in complete games during a season, fifth in innings pitched, tied for fourth in appearances and tied for fifth in shutouts... DePaul is 42-33 in the NCAA Championship and 11-6 in first-round games... the Blue Demons are 5-4 all-time against UMass, and this was the first time the teams have met in the NCAA tournament... in games at neutral sites, DePaul is now 16-6... this is the fourth year in a row the Blue Demons have competed in the regional at Missouri, and their record is 5-6 at University Field... DePaul has played 25 games against teams in the NCAA tournament field... the Blue Demons went to a barbecue on Thursday given by the parents of DePaul women's basketball center Katherine Harry and played on the backyard court where Harry honed her skills... all three of the Blue Demon hits came in the sixth inning... after a reporter asked Verdun about her pitch count in the postgame news conference, Lenti responded: "My players don't worry about pitch counts or any other stat. They're more worried about where I'm going to take them for dinner and whether we're going to Dairy Queen."