#43 DePaul Softball 2014 Preview

DePaul Blue Demons

Overall Rank: #43
Conference Rank: #1 Big East
#43 DePaul Softball 2014 Preview
DePaul Team Page


The Blue Demons are coming off of what is a disappointing season for them, having missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. DePaul brings back an experienced squad, as eight of the players on this year's squad are upperclassmen, including players at key positions such as pitcher, shortstop and first base.

2013: 32-21, 16-6
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Eugene Lenti

Field Players:
One of those upperclassmen is Allie Braden, who started at shortstop for the Demons last year. The senior hit .346, knocked out 13 doubles and four triples. The Demons also welcome back its three top power hitters in P/1B Kirsten Verdun, first baseman Mary Connolly and catcher/infielder Staci Bonezek. Connolly had 10 home runs and 41 RBIs, both team-highs. Verdun finished second on the team in home runs and runs batted in, as she had eight bombs and 36 runs batted in. Bonezek knocked seven balls out of the yard and knocked in 24 teammates. DePaul is lucky to bring back five of its top six hitters from last year's squad. Other key hitters include Gena Lenti and Megan Coronado.

DePaul is a team that's been lucky to have many pitchers step into the circle for them. Until last year, Verdun was the team workhorse and that was the case for a good portion of last season as well. She started 36 of the 40 games she pitched in for a 23-13 record, 1.90 ERA, and 253 strikeouts in 239 innings. Hannah Penna has been her backup all four years, but last year the team was bolstered by Connolly and then-freshman Morgan Maize. While neither Connolly nor Maize got much playing time, both had successful track records in high school and will especially be looked up to help the two seniors out as they get ready to transition into next season.  

Who to Watch:
Verdun. The senior is the unquestioned leader of the team and rightfully so. In her three years at the Chicago school, Verdun has three All-Big East first team awards, an NFCA Second-team All-American team award and numerous other awards. In three seasons she has won 77 games, struck out 655 hitters, hit 30 home runs and knocked in 120 runs.

Final Projection:
As long as DePaul has Verdun, it's in the game, whether she be on the mound or a hitter. Having hitting experience like they have returning is good because it complements the pitching well. The nonconference schedule isn't too daunting, but DePaul will face tough competition when it travels to the NFCA Leadoff Classic, FIU Invite, College of Charleston tournament and UNLV Classic. Games against local rivals Loyola and Northwestern are on the schedule, as is a game with Notre Dame, which is no longer a conference opponent after the Irish moved to the ACC and the Blue Demons stayed in the new Big East. The Big East tournament will be played at the Chicago Bandits Stadium in Rosemenont, Illinois, so DePaul will be the de facto host.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Allie Braden, SS, 179
Hits: Allie Braden, SS, 62
Home Runs: Megan Connolly, 1B, 10
RBIs: Megan Connolly, 1B, 41
Runs: Allie Braden, SS, 40
Stolen Bases: Cherelle Chambers, OF, 8

Wins: Kirsten Verdun, P/1B, 23
Innings Pitched: Kirsten Verdun, P/1B, 239
Strikeouts: Kirsten Verdun, P/1B, 253
Saves: Kirsten Verdun, P/1B, 2


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