March 1, 2013
LAS VEGAS – You might say Mary Connolly hit the jackpot Friday morning upon her return to this city of bright lights and casinos.
With the bases loaded and two out in the first inning, Connolly blasted a grand slam over the right-field fence in DePaul’s 6-1 victory over New Mexico State in the opener of the Eller Media Stadium Classic.
It was the Blue Demons’ fourth win in a row and improved their record to 9-7. It also snapped a three-game winning streak for New Mexico State (10-6).
DePaul had started the season winning four of five games at the Sportco Kick-Off Classic in Las Vegas.
Samantha Dodd opened the game with a walk and Allie Braden followed with a base hit to left field. After a Kirsten Verdun popup, Megan Coronado singled to left.
Paige Peterson struck out before Connolly cleared the bases with her second home run of the season.
Braden led off the bottom of the third with a solo shot and Peterson scored on an error for a 6-0 Blue Demon lead. New Mexico State got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth on Staci Rodriguez’s solo home run.
Winning pitcher Verdun (6-4) came one pitch away from a shutout. The junior left-hander delivered one of her better performances of the season, going the distance and limiting the Aggies to one run on six hits while striking out three and walking none.
The absence of any walks was a key as Blue Demon pitchers had been issuing too many free passes this season. DePaul coach Eugene Lenti said that was an issue addressed by the pitchers in practices this week.
Following the New Mexico State game, DePaul will take on Weber State at 1:15 p.m. at Eller Media Stadium.
NOTES: Freshman Gena Lenti played in her first game this season, starting at second base while second baseman Allie Braden shifted over to shortstop… she recorded her first collegiate stolen base in the fourth inning and her first collegiate hit with a bunt single in the sixth… Gena Lenti had been playing on the Blue Demon women’s basketball team helping shore up an injury-riddled backcourt… Braden had quite a day going 3-for-3 with a home run, two runs and an RBI… Connolly was 1-for-3 with the grand slam… Peterson went 1-for-2 with a run and Coronado 1-for-3 with a run… Verdun, Hannah Penna and Gena Lenti each had one hit… Dodd scored a run.