Softball Begins 2009 in Las Vegas
CHICAGO -- The No. 16/16 DePaul softball team throws out the first pitch of 2009 season at the Louisville Slugger/UNLV Desert Classic, Feb. 13-15. The Blue Demons square off against Oregon State and Southern Miss on Friday, followed by No. 6/5 Michigan and Kentucky on Saturday and Portland State on Sunday. Friday and Saturday’s games will be played at the Eller Media Stadium on the campus of UNLV while Sunday’s game will be at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park in Henderson, Nev.
After making its 13th NCAA Tournament in 2008, the Blue Demons return their entire pitching staff and a roster that is headlined by All-American pitcher Becca Heteniak and All-American third baseman Amber Patton. Heteniak, the reigning BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year struck out a school-record 315 batters and compiled a 33-8 record last season. Patton, who claimed her third team batting title in 2008, led the BIG EAST Conference with .403 season average, returns for a senior year.
The Blue Demons hold a 20-12-1 advantage over their Friday’s opponents. DePaul faces Oregon State at 1:15 p.m. (CST) and Southern Miss at 3:30 p.m. DePaul last met Oregon State in 2006 and dropped the game 6-1. However in 2005, the Blue Demons defeated the Beavers 8-6 in the Madison Regional Final to send DePaul to Super Regional and eventually the Women’s College World Series. Former Conference USA opponent, Southern Miss and the Blue Demons tangle for the 25th time, with DePaul claiming the last four series meetings.
On Saturday, the Blue Demons face their first ranked team of the season in No. 6/5 Michigan at 11 a.m. and close out the day with a 1:15 p.m. game with Kentucky. Michigan has won the last four meetings between the two programs and holds an 8-4 series advantage. First year Blue Demon assistant coach Samantha Findlay will face her former team, but time in the dugout as a coach. Findlay helped the Wolverines to a National Championship in 2005 and was a first team All-American in 2008. DePaul and Kentucky have met twice, with each team recording a win. The Wildcats won the last meeting 2-1, in 2005.
The Blue Demons close out the tournament with a 1:15 game with Portland State. DePaul won both previous meetings, including a 6-1 victory in 2007.
Next weekend DePaul travels to Florida for games with Michigan State, Fairfield, Bethune Cookman and tournament host Florida Gulf Coast.