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Blue Demons Fired Up for Home Opener on Friday
Samantha Dodd helped ignite an offense that averaged 10 runs per game last weekend at Providence.


Samantha Dodd helped ignite an offense that averaged 10 runs per game last weekend at Providence.

March 28, 2013

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CHICAGO - The Blue Demons are ready to be a big hit at their home opener on Friday.

After 28 consecutive games away from Cacciatore Stadium, DePaul (16-12, 3-0 in the BIG EAST) plays its first game on friendly turf with the 1 p.m. opener of a conference doubleheader against Pittsburgh (13-13, 2-1).

The Blue Demons finished up that road odyssey with a three-game sweep of Providence last weekend.

Led by an explosive offense, DePaul outscored Providence 31-17 and averaged 10 RBIs per game. DePaul batted .389 as team during the three-game series and raised its team batting average nearly 20 points. The Blue Demons hit eight home runs in just three games after hitting 12 in their first 25 games.

"What did we learn about the team in those 28 consecutive road games?" said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "We still need to get the pitching straightened out. The defense corrected itself over the weekend at Providence.

"Our hitting is in a good spot. We hit the ball all the time, all over the park at Providence---and we hit throughout the lineup. Now we've got to keep the consistency going."

Staci Bonezek was chosen for the BIG EAST Honor Roll after hitting .583 with two home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs in the series.

In addition, Mary Connolly (.571, two home runs), Kirsten Verdun (.556, two homers), Allie Braden (.538, three doubles, a triple and home run) and Samantha Dodd (.385) hit the ball hard.

"It helps everybody when the No. 7 hitter in your batting order (Bonezek) hits like that" Lenti said. "Scoring runs throughout the lineup makes you a more dangerous team.

"We have a lot of good hitters who are coming through and doing the job now. There are more tough outs, and that makes our lineup stronger one through nine. Getting Bree Brown back helps because she is an experienced senior who makes contact and has power, too.

"I hope our hitting continues and we keep having quality at-bats. Right now they are seeing the ball well and putting it in play."

This is an opportune time for the offense to flourish.

"We took a lot of batting practice before Providence and were able to spend a lot of time on hitting," Lenti said. "Maybe all the things the coaches have been talking about and trying to teach is starting to kick in.

"I think our players are figuring it out on their own how to be aggressive on good pitches. Last weekend we were going after more good pitches and staying off the bad ones."

Hopefully, a partisan crowd at Cacciatore Stadium will be treated to more offensive fireworks.

"Everyone is excited to finally play our first home game," Lenti said. "We get to sleep in our own beds and enjoy all the comforts of home. I can tell everyone is looking forward to it.

"There is definitely a home-field advantage in softball. We're not traveling for the first time this season, and Pittsburgh has to travel.

"There's a comfort factor at play, and it's something that should make it easier for us from a mental point of view."