#32 DePaul Softball 2015 Preview

DePaul Blue Demons

Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #1 Big East
#32 DePaul Softball 2015 Preview
DePaul Team Page


The Blue Demons are looking to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the 19th time in 21 seasons in 2015.  They'll have to do it without do-everything star Kirsten Verdun, who graduated last spring. DePaul was one game away from winning the Lexington Regional last year, losing out to host Kentucky, which went on to play in the Women's College World Series.

2014: 44-11, 18-1
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Eugene Lenti

Field Players:
The Blue Demons bring back six players who started at least 39 games, led by Mary Connolly, who hit .420, got 66 hits, knocked out 13 home runs and drove in 44 RBI, all team highs. The squad does need to replace Allie Braden and Verdun, who were the second and third-leading hitters and combined for 30 of the team's 90 doubles. Dylan Christensen returns after an impressive freshman season that saw her hit 17 doubles and knock in 37 RBI, both of which were second-highest on the team. Morgan Maize knocked in 28 runs, while Nicole Pihl brought in 24. Maize and Staci Bonezek each stole nine bases, which was tops on the squad.

Losing Verdun, a two-time Second Team All-American who also set four school records and finished third in the nation last year in wins with 33 and fifth in strikeouts with 299, is huge. Connolly has the most experience of any pitcher returning, as she started 11 of the 16 games she appeared in and finished with a 6-3 record and 2.01 ERA. Other pitchers on the roster include Maize, who was a star pitcher and hitter in high school, sophomore Maxine Rodriguez, who threw five innings and freshman Megan Leyva.  

Who to Watch:
Anybody on the pitching staff. Verdun had been the team's ace since the day she stepped onto DePaul's campus, so finding her replacement will be vital for Lenti's squad. Can Connolly take over the reigns? And, if so, will that affect her hitting? The senior put up nice stats in high school, but has been rarely used as a pitcher. Will any of the rest of the three listed pitchers step up?

Final Projection:
How the Blue Demons replace Verdun will be the key to the team's season. Not only was she awesome on the mound, but she was also a quality hitter. If Connolly can be a dual player and Christensen can build off her successful freshman campaign and some of the other Blue Demons step up, the team should be able to not only win the Big East again, but possibly make a run into the NCAA Tournament. DePaul will find out how good they are right off the bat, as they face Oklahoma in the first game of the season. Other big non-conference games include tilts with Texas Tech, Wisconsin and Nebraska, as well as games against the local Illinois teams Northwestern, Loyola, Illinois State and pretty much every Illinois team in the state.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 157
Hits: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 66
Home Runs: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 13
RBIs: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 44
Runs: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 40
Stolen Bases: Morgan Maize P/IF, Staci Bonezek C/IF, 9

Wins: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 6
Innings Pitched: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 66.1
Strikeouts: Mary Connolly, P/1B, 58
Complete Games: Mary Connolly, P/1B 6


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