After a quarterfinal round that saw the four higher seeds win, an intriguing pair of semifinal games is set for Friday evening at the 2013 BIG EAST Softball Championship. Free, live video of both games will be available exclusively at www.bigeastsoftball.com.
The first game, between 4-seed DePaul and 1-seed Notre Dame, features a matchup of two of the league's top dual-threat players.
BIG EAST Player of the Year Laura Winter led the Fighting Irish in most major offensive categories a year after winning the conference's Pitcher of the Year award. This year, the junior belted a league-high 17 home runs while hitting .368 and drove in 52 runs . In the circle she went 14-2 in conference play with a 1.89 ERA. Winter went the distance in Notre Dame's quarterfinal win over 8-seed Seton Hall, allowing just three hits and striking out eight.
DePaul's ace Kirsten Verdun, who also hurled a shutout in the quarterfinals, finished the season with a BIG EAST-leading on-base percentage of .612. average (.466), RBIs (21) and home runs (6) for the Blue Demons.
The teams played a hard-fought three game series in late April. Notre Dame came out on top in two of the three contests. Both teams reside in the top-50 nationally in RPI, Notre Dame at 42, DePaul at 44.
The nightcap features a classic matchup of strength versus strength. Second-seeded USF's dominant pitching will match up with 3-seed Louisville's explosive offense.
The defending tournament champion Cardinals slugged their way past Syracuse 12-3 in five innings Thursday. In conference games, Louisville leads the league in batting average (.364), slugging percentage (.604), on-base percentage (.441), runs scored (173), RBI (165), doubles (45) and home runs (31).
The Bulls shut down 7-seed Providence 3-0 behind a six strong innings from BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Sara Nevins and a save by Lindsey Richardson.
Nevins anchors a staff that boasts a 1.30 ERA - good for second in nation. Sam Greiner joins Nevins and Richardson as Bulls' pitchers with sub-2.00 ERAs.
BIGEASTSoftball.com is the conference's hub for complete coverage of the 2013 BIG EAST Softball Championships. Live video coverage of each semifinal game can be found as well as live stats, recaps, photos and highlights of the games. Follow @BIGEASTChamps on Twitter for in-game updates throughout the championship.