Get Ready to Make Some Noise on Softball Field Trip Day
April 2, 2013
CHICAGO - DePaul's Cacciatore Stadium will be rocking Wednesday with one of the liveliest events of the softball season.
Nearly 600 high-energy school children will be screaming out their support for the Blue Demons at the 11 a.m. BIG EAST Conference doubleheader against Seton Hall during the annual softball Field Trip Day.
DePaul is providing bus transportation, free tickets and Blue Demon T-shirts to the elementary-school students attending the game.
Bulls star Derrick Rose's grammar school Beasley Academic Center is bringing the largest contingent of 150 students. Stagg School of Excellence will have 100 school children in the Cacciatore Stadium stands, and there will be 89 students from Kozminski Community Academy.
Other schools participating in this softball fest are Harvard School of Excellence, Johnson School of Excellence, Chicago Academy, Herzl School of Excellence and Marquette School of Excellence.
"It's great when the stadium is packed full of kids who are very loud and enthusiastic," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "We want to be a good example for the school children and make sure they are having a good time. They'll have a lot of fun if we're having fun.
"Our players get fired up for Field Trip Day. They like to see the stadium filled, and this event is always exciting for them. All of that energy and cheering inspires them to play well."
DePaul (18-13, 5-1 in the BIG EAST) has won five of its last six games and is making quite an impact on the conference.
In BIG EAST competition entering the week, the Blue Demons led the league in hits, runs, RBIs, doubles, total bases and were tied for the most home runs with USF.
In conference action, Mary Connolly entered the week second in the BIG EAST in home runs and total bases while Samantha Dodd was tied for second in runs. Connolly and Staci Bonezek were tied for third in RBIs.
DePaul ace Kirsten Verdun led the league in strikeouts and was tied for second in wins.
Lenti has watched his seasoned veterans step to the forefront.
"Experience has a lot of value," Lenti said. "Those kids are more mature and accustomed to the pace of the college game. You want to put your best and most experienced players out there.
"Bree Brown is a valuable addition for us. She is such a good all-around player who knows how to handle a bat and gives us another stick with pop. Defensively, she plays a very steady second base.
"Having her back in the lineup after an injury allows us to move Brittany Boesel to third base and solidifies our defense. When Kirsten Verdun is pitching, we have just one freshman (outfielder Gena Lenti) in the lineup. When Hannah Penna is pitching, we have no freshmen."
Not that Lenti is opposed to playing the rookies.
"I've never been afraid to play freshmen right away," Lenti said. "There have been newcomers who had talent and maturity along with an understanding of the college game to be successful in their first year.
"Our current freshmen have come a long way this season. But they aren't at the level of our sophomores, juniors and seniors."