Blue Demons Confront No. 6/6 Texas Friday at Houston Invite
Feb. 14, 2013
CHICAGO - When you play softball at DePaul, expect to face the best.
That's what awaits the Blue Demons beginning Friday at the Hilton Houston Plaza Invite.
When DePaul (4-1) takes on No. 6/6 Texas (6-0) at 10 a.m., there's a good chance Texas All-American ace Blaire Luna will be in the pitching circle. Luna is 2-0 with a 1.50 earned-run average and is averaging two strikeouts per inning.
"We like to play the best in the country, and Luna is certainly one of the very best," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "We look at it as a great challenge and an opportunity to see how you measure up against her and Texas.
"Luna is a senior and a great one. We have faced great pitchers in the past like Keilani Ricketts of Oklahoma and Chelsea Thomas of Missouri. That's part of our program's philosophy---you have to play the best to be the best.
"It's an opportunity to try and get a big win early in the season. This is a chance to improve your RPI and make a case that you deserve a bid to the NCAA tournament. You want to face tough competition."
In addition to Texas, the Blue Demons will face Houston (4-2) and Illinois (3-2).
"Every team at the Houston tournament has a winning record, and they are all doing really well," Lenti said. "We're going to have our hands full in every game.
"I feel like we can win every game we play down there, but you could wind up losing every game, too. That's how good the competition will be.
"Our players have to stay focused for all seven innings. If not, you could be digging yourself out of a hole."
DePaul jumped out to an early lead in three of the four games Lenti & Co. won at last weekend's Sportco Kick-Off Classic in Las Vegas.
Kirsten Verdun, the BIG EAST Softball Pitcher of the Week, went 3-1 at Eller Media Stadium and gave up just one earned run in 22.1 innings. She also batted .533 with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs.
"We went 4-1 in Las Vegas and only had one bad inning," Lenti said in reference to the six-run Louisville outburst in an 8-2 loss. "Sure, we let some opportunities get away from us offensively and we weren't perfect pitching-wise or defensively in every inning.
"But there was only one bad inning offensively and one bad inning defensively that disappointed me. Over the course of five games, that's pretty good.
"If we can do that again and maintain our focus inning by inning, we'll do fine."