May 15, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Winners in 23 of its past 24 games, DePaul softball heads into the NCAA Softball Tournament on a roll. The Blue Demons finished the regular season 41-9, tied for their most wins since 2011, and won both the BIG EAST Conference regular season and tournament crowns.
The Blue Demons will meet the James Madison, champions of the CAA, in their opening game on Friday at 4:00 p.m. CT. It will be the second meeting between the two teams this year, as DePaul dropped a 3-1 game to the Dukes back on February 23 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
The winners of Friday's contests will meet in a winner's bracket final at 12:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, with an elimination game between Friday's losers beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT. The winner of that contest will play the loser of the winner's bracket final at 5 p.m. CT for the right to advance to the Lexington Regional Championship, which will be held on Sunday (May 17) at 12:00 p.m. CT. Should the team with no losses fall in that contest, a winner-take-all second championship game will take place at 2:30 p.m. CT.
DePaul has lost just once since March 26 and swept the BIG EAST end-of-year awards, with Kirsten Verdun (pitcher), Mary Connolly (player), Dylan Christensen (rookie) and the coaching staff all taking home hardware.
At the BIG EAST Conference Tournament, Verdun received Most Outstanding Player honors after winning both of her starts and tossing a shutout in the championship game against St. John's.
A deep lineup and pitching staff has helped DePaul has out-scored its opponents 298-133 and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. Making their 18th appearance overall, the Blue Demons have advanced to the Women's College World Series four times in program history and are 42-35 all-time in tournament play.
The Blue Demons are one of 64 teams to earn an NCAA Tournament bid, including 32 at-large and 32 automatic qualifiers, with teams playing at 16 different regional sites.
The four-team, double-elimination tournament will send its winner to one of eight Super Regionals, May 22-25, in hopes of advancing to the Women's College World Series. The final round of the tournament occurs May 29-June 4 in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Regionals and Super Regionals are played at campus sites.
Scouting The Field
One of just two regions in the 2014 NCAA Tournament with three 40-win teams, the Lexington regional also features three conference champions and the No. 14 overall seed, Kentucky.
CAA champion James Madison enters the field with a 15-game winning streak and a school record 44-wins. The Dukes have punched their ticket with a pair of 20-game winners in the circle and a 143 run differential (256-113). Jailyn Ford (23-6, 1.24 ERA) and Heather Kiefer (20-7, 2.02 ERA) handle the pitching for JMU, while the offense is led by Caitlin Sandy (.337, seven home runs, 31 RBIs), Erica Field (.314, 36 RBIs), Jailyn Ford (nine homers, 28 RBIs) and Taylor Newton (seven homers, 31 RBIs). The Blue Demons and Dukes have met twice in the past two years, with JMU taking both games.
MAC champion Ohio is making its second appearance in the tournament and first since 1995. The Bobcats are 2-1 all-time against DePaul and hit .267 as a team. Ace Savannah Jo Dorsey was 25-16 overall with a 2.32 ERA.
Kentucky, the SEC runner-up, is the 14-seed and will serve as the host for this weekend's regional. The Wildcats hit .267 with 64 homers and a 104 run-differential (275-171). The offense features Nikki Sagermann (13 home runs, 46 RBIs), Lauren Cumbess (.320, eight homers, 34 RBIs), Griffin Joiner (nine homers, 30 RBIs) and Emily Gaines (.333, six homers, 35 RBIs). Ace Kelly Nunley is 24-7 with a 2.07 ERA. DePaul trails the all-time series against UK 2-1, but the programs have not met since 2011.
Lexington Regional - May 16-18 - John Cropp Stadium - Lexington, Ky.
James Madison (44-13)
NCAA Lexington Regional Schedule
Friday, May 16
Game 1 - James Madison vs. DePaul - 5 p.m. ET
Game 2 - Kentucky vs. Ohio - 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 17
Game 3 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 1 p.m. ET
Game 4 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Game 5 - Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 - 6 p.m. ET
Sunday, May 18
Game 6 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 -1 p.m. ET
Game 7 - (If necessary) -3:30 p.m. ET
Reserved (sections B-F)
- All ages 2 and older: $30
- Age 1 and under free of charge
General Admission (sections A & G)
- All ages 2 and older: $20
- Age 1 and under free of charge
Based on availability, single session tickets will go on-sale Thursday, May 15 at 9:00 a.m. ET.
** Fans can purchase all-session passes starting Monday, May 12 at 9 a.m. ET online at UKathletics.com, in-person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or over the phone at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818.