DePaul Earns 17th Appearance in NCAA Tournament
May 13, 2012
CHICAGO - The DePaul Blue Demons will be making their 17th overall appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship---their 15th tournament berth in the last 16 years--after their bracket was revealed Sunday night on the NCAA Selection Show on ESPNU.
DePaul (35-20) was placed in the Columbia, Mo. regional and will face Massachusetts at 4 p.m. on Friday. Host Missouri is the top-seeded team in the regional and will open against Illinois State at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
"It's our fourth year in a row going to the Missouri regional, and it is kind of like our home away from home," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "We are familiar with the environment and have beaten two of the other teams in our regional."
The Blue Demons defeated Massachusetts 8-0 in five innings on Feb. 24 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla. DePaul topped Illinois State 6-1 on April 11 in Normal.
DePaul played a total of four games this season against the NCAA tournament's No. 1 seed California, No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma.
"You go all over the country trying to play the best teams, and in the end, this is the reward for your hard work and effort," Lenti said. "I think we're in a good place."
Lenti and his team enter the NCAA Championship tournament with a 6-0 victory over No. 19/20 USF in the BIG EAST Championship opener followed by a 2-0 loss to No. 9/8 Louisville in the semifinals.
The Blue Demons are led by ace Kirsten Verdun who is 26-13 on the season with a 1.76 ERA. The sophomore left-hander is expected to make her 18th consecutive start on Friday.
Verdun is also DePaul's leading offensive threat with a .373 batting average, 11 home runs and 40 RBIs. Samantha Dodd is hitting .337 and is followed by Mary Connolly (.298, five home runs, 31 RBIs) and Lynsey Ciezki (.292, 33 runs).
In 2011, DePaul advanced to the regional finals at Columbia, Mo. and was among the final 20 teams in the NCAA field. The Blue Demons upset the host team, No. 8/4 Missouri, in the second game of the regional but lost twice to the Tigers on the final day.