May 10, 2014
ROSEMONT, Ill. - DePaul claimed the 2014 BIG EAST Softball Championship title at The Ballpark at Rosemont on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 win over second-seeded St. John's. The No. 1 seed Blue Demons were led by BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player Kirsten Verdun, who earned the shutout win in the circle and limited the Red Storm to just three hits.
The tournament title is the second in program history for DePaul and first since 2008 as the Blue Demons earned the BIG EAST's automatic bid into the NCAA Championship. DePaul improved to 13-7 (.650) all-time in the BIG EAST Championship, including 2-1 in the finals, while St. John's fell to 4-11 (.267) and 0-2 in the finals.
DePaul got two of its three runs in the bottom of the third. BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Dylan Christensen reached base on a single, followed by Megan Coronado who reached on a fielder's choice. Both crossed the plate when a muffed throw by Lexi Robles allowed Morgan Maize to reach first and advance to second and the other two DePaul runners to score. Tori Free got out of the inning by striking out Staci Bonezek, one three Ks for Free on the afternoon.
The fourth inning was drama packed as St. John's got a pair of runners on base with a single by Jackie Reed and a dropped fly ball out to right field by Erin Burner. The pair advanced to third and second, respectively, after a Verdun pitch went sailing over Bonezek's head. With Brittany Garcia representing the go-ahead run at the plate, Verdun pitched herself out of the jam as Garcia went down swinging.
The Blue Demons managed to tack on one run during the bottom of the fourth. Nicole Pihl led off and ripped one into the left field corner for the double and was replaced by Micah Fitzgerald as a pinch runner. Fitzgerald was caught taking a generous lead off second as Burner gunned her out from home for the inning's first out. Four walks by Free sent Marsha' Pendilton, who had run in place for Verdun, to home as the Blue Demons led 3-0 after four. Free surrendered eight walks on the afternoon.
The Red Storm threatened once again in the fifth, putting runners on the corners with one out before Lexi Robles flew out and Ellen Czuba grounded out to get Verdun out of the jam once again.
Reed continued her hot streak at the plate at the top of the sixth with a leadoff double, but the following three batters failed to reach base as Reed was left stranded and St. John's was down to its final three outs.
Free retired all three DePaul batters faced in order in the bottom of the sixth, as Verdun was set to face the Nos. 6-7-8 batters of St. John's. Monique Landini was thrown out at first before Verdun got Kelsey Moyer to chase and go down swinging. The final out came from Yvonne Rericha grounding out to Brittany Boesel at second as the Blue Demons clinched their second BIG EAST Championship in program history.
Following the game, Verdun was named the Most Outstanding Player after showing a 0.54 earned run average, striking out 19 and walking just one in two complete-game victories in the BIG EAST Championship. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by fellow Blue Demons Allie Braden, Mary Connolly, Dylan Christensen and Nicole Pihl.
Lights-out hitter Jackie Reed highlighted the St. John's contingent on the All-Tournament Team. Reed batted .857 (6-for-7) with two RBI, two home runs and two doubles in a 1-1 weekend for the Red Storm. Teammates Ellen Czuba, Erin Burner and Kelsey Moyer also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team.
Georgetown's Samantha Giovanniello and Megan Hyson and Creighton's Alexis Cantu were also recognized.
DePaul will make its seventh trip in the past eight years to the NCAA Championship and 18th appearance overall. The Blue Demons will learn which NCAA Regional they are headed to at 10 p.m. (ET) on Sunday during the live NCAA Selection Show, set to air on ESPNU. DePaul last traveled to the Columbia Regional in 2012, where it defeated Massachusetts before falling to Missouri and Illinois State.
BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player
Kirsten Verdun, DePaul
BIG EAST All-Tournament Team
Alexis Cantu, Creighton
Megan Hyson, Georgetown
Samantha Giovanniello, Georgetown
Ellen Czuba, St. John's
Jackie Reed, St. John's
Erin Burner, St. John's
Kelsey Moyer, St. John's
Allie Braden, DePaul
Mary Connolly, DePaul
Dylan Christensen, DePaul
Nicole Pihl, DePaul
Kirsten Verdun, DePaul