Loss to Illinois State Ends DePaul's Season
May 19, 2012
COLUMBIA, Mo. - This is how a season ends, late into a Saturday night at a college town in the middle of Missouri.
An emotionally drained DePaul team could manage but one hit in a 3-0 NCAA Regional loss to Illinois State. The second loss of the day eliminated the Blue Demons from the NCAA Championship.
Earlier in the day, DePaul ace Kirsten Verdun had shut down No. 10/9 Missouri for eight innings---only to lose on a first-pitch, walk-off home run in the ninth.
DePaul coach Eugene Lenti did not want his team to go gently into that good night.
But the fighting spirit that had sustained these Blue Demons through some tough times and helped them earn the program's 17th NCAA tournament appearance went AWOL.
"We didn't bring any energy, and we never recovered from the first game," Lenti said. "It's always tough to play coming off a loss while Illinois State was coming off an emotional win.
"Our offense was missing all day, and give credit to Illinois State. Their pitcher Jordan Birch did a great job after going all nine innings in the 1-0 win over Massachusetts right before our game. ISU pitched better, swung the bats better and played better defense."
Still flush from the emotional win over Massachusetts, Illinois State (37-22) opened the game with Jhavon Hamilton's double to left. After a sacrifice bunt, Verdun struck out Lizzie Andrews. Elizabeth Kay followed with an RBI triple to center.
"They came out in attack mode right away," Lenti said. "That's what good teams do at this time of the year."
Kolby Hoffman led off the fifth inning with a solo home run over the center-field fence to give the Redbirds a 2-0 lead. ISU went on to load the bases with two out, but Verdun struck out Laura Canopy to minimize the damage.
A bases-loaded walk in the top of the sixth increased the Redbird advantage to 3-0 as DePaul finished up the 2012 season with a 36-22 record.
Verdun set the DePaul single-season record on Saturday night for innings pitched (272), eclipsing the 270 amassed by Lindsay Chouinard in 2002. Her 41st start set another season record, surpassing the 40 by Sarah Martz in 2004.
This was also her 21st consecutive start, and that workload began to take its toll. The sophomore left-hander didn't have the same sharp command that enabled her to hold down Missouri.
"We are graduating three seniors, and Lynsey Ciezki, Katelyn Braget and Marla Mathews all played in the NCAA tournament every year of their careers and won at least one tournament game each season," Lenti said. "Congratulations to them on their four years at DePaul.
"As for the younger players, I hope this leaves a bitter taste in their mouths. I want them to remember how they're feeling tonight so our season doesn't end like this next year."
NOTES: The start time of the losers' bracket final was delayed by nearly an hour as Illinois State took nine innings to defeat Massachusetts 1-0... this was the 21st consecutive start for Verdun, and she has pitched both ends of five doubleheaders during a stretch that began on April 15... Verdun is first in innings pitched and games started in a season, second in strikeouts for a season, third in complete games, tied for fourth in most wins for a season, fifth in appearances and tied for fifth in shutouts... DePaul is 43-34 in the NCAA Championship and 12-13 against the host school... in games at neutral sites, DePaul is now 16-8... this is the fourth year in a row the Blue Demons have competed in the regional at Missouri, and their record is 6-7 at University Field... all-time against Missouri, DePaul is 8-9... the Blue Demons are 5-3 versus the Tigers in NCAA tournament competition... DePaul has played 28 games against teams in the NCAA tournament field... the Blue Demons are 16-18-2 against Illinois State, and Saturday was the first time the two schools have met in NCAA tournament play... Verdun got the lone hit for the Blue Demons on Saturday night... Verdun finished the season batting .363 and led the team in home runs (11), RBIs (41), hits (61) and walks (29)... Samantha Dodd hit .329 while Mary Connolly batted .288 with five homers and 31 RBIs... Ciezki hit .282 and led the Blue Demons with 34 runs... Allie Braden batted .279 and Braget finished with seven home runs and 29 RBIs... DePaul hit .266 as a team and outscored its opponents 228-139... Verdun was 27-15 on the mound with a 1.62 ERA and 266 strikeouts in 272 innings... she had 10 shutouts... Bree Brown was 5-4 with a 2.80 ERA while Hannah Penna was 4-2 with a 3.04 ERA.