Softball Unveils 2009 Slate
CHICAGO One of the most challenging schedules in the DePaul softball program’s history awaits the Blue Demons in 2009. DePaul’s slate includes nine teams that appeared in the final USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll, while 13 opponents played in the 2008 NCAA Championship.
“This is by far one of our toughest schedules as the tournament portion is highlighted with big names, including the 2008 National Champion Arizona State,” head coach Eugene Lenti said of his team’s 2009 slate. “We play teams from all the major conferences, while the BIG EAST Conference continues to be tough as there is more of a balance from top to bottom this season.”
The Blue Demons, who finished the season ranked No. 22, return their entire pitching staff in All-American Becca Heteniak, Lauren Frankiewicz and Lindsey Dean. The trio combined for the 24th best ERA (1.62) in the country, while Heteniak was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year along with BIG EAST Championship MVP honors.
At the plate, All-American third baseman Amber Patton returns for her senior season and goes for her fourth consecutive team-batting title. Patton enters the season with career .361 batting average, while her .403 average as junior was tops the BIG EAST.
The Blue Demons begin their season at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic hosted by UNLV, Feb. 13-15. DePaul spends the first two days of the tournament at Eller Media Stadium while the Sunday sees the squad shipped to Stephanie Lynn Craig Park, which is located in nearby Henderson, Nev. The Blue Demons throw the first pitch of the 2009 season at former Conference USA rival Southern Miss on Feb. 13. DePaul also faces Oregon State, Kentucky, Michigan and Portland State while in Vegas.
After returning from the West, the Blue Demons head to Fort Meyers, Fla. for the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament, Feb. 20-22. The round-robin tournament features Michigan State, Fairfield, Bethune Cookman and host Florida Gulf Coast for the three-day classic.
The Blue Demons stay in the southern portion of the United States for the annual NFCA Lead Off Classic Feb. 27-March 1 in Columbus, Ga. DePaul, who went 5-1 at the 2008 Lead Off Classic, face four teams that finished 2008 in the top-25. The squad opens bracket play with Penn State before tangling with Georgia. Day two sees Louisiana-Lafayette and Virginia Tech, while Sunday the Blue Demons face LSU.
DePaul closes out the tournament portion of its schedule at the annual Judi Garman Classic which is hosted by Cal State Fullerton, March 12-15. In California, the Blue Demons square off with host Fullerton, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Fresno State and defending National Champion Arizona State.
The Blue Demons open BIG EAST Conference play on March 21 in Lincoln Park. DePaul takes on St. John’s before a nonconference game with Illinois on March 26. The Blue Demons close out the month of March on the road with doubleheaders at Connecticut and Providence.
The Blue Demons are busy in the month of April as they are scheduled to play 26 games, 15 of which are at Cacciatore Stadium. DePaul hosts BIG EAST foes Seton Hall and Pittsburgh on April 4-5 before breaking from league play to host Southern Utah on April 6. The squad makes the short trip to Notre Dame for a doubleheader on April 8 before returning to Lincoln Park to host Northern Illinois and USF on April 9 and 11, respectively.
The middle of the month have the Blue Demons hosting Loyola-Chicago and Illinois State April 14 and 15 before hitting the road for conference doubleheaders at Rutgers and Villanova that weekend.
DePaul’s final three home dates are slated for April 21, 22 and 25. UIC takes El on the 21st before Louisville heads up Interstate 65 for an always exciting league twinbill on the 22nd. Syracuse closes out DePaul’s season at Cacciatore Stadium with a conference doubleheader the 25th.
The Blue Demons final six contest of the regular season are on the road however, the first four are in close proximity to Chicago. DePaul travels 13 miles to Evanston for a game at Northwestern on April 28 before heading to the Southside for a night game at UIC on the 29th. The Blue Demons close out the month of April with a doubleheader at Valparaiso on April 30.
DePaul’s final regular season series is at Georgetown May 3 before heading to defend its BIG EAST Conference Championship in Louisville May 7-9.
NCAA Regionals are scheduled for May 15-17 with Super Regionals the following weekend, May 22-23. The Women’s College World Series remains in Oklahoma City with the top eight teams in the country competing May 28-June 3.