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DePaul-James Madison Postgame Quotes




May 17, 2014

Box Score

Recap

DePaul’s Allie Braden’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning propelled the Blue Demons to a 4-3 win over James Madison to advance to the championship series on Sunday. DePaul will face Kentucky beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The Blue Demons must defeat Kentucky twice to advance to the Super Regional. DePaul’s pitcher Kirsten Verdun picked up her second victory of the day with a complete-game victory and yielding just one earned run. Braden plated three scores and scored twice as well to lift the Blue Demons to the Sunday series. James Madison was led by a pair of 2-for-3 days from Caitlin Sandy and Tahli Moore. The Dukes conclude their season with a 45-15 overall record.

DePaul Press Conference

DePaul Head Coach Eugene Lenti

Opening Statement …
“Well, it was definitely a time where we knew we had to win the day. It wasn’t just about winning one game, it was about winning the day, but you knew you had to do it one game at a time, obviously. We tried to change our focus to one pitch at a time today, both offensively and defensively. We got a great effort from our seniors and Mary [Connolly] did a great job, [Kirsten Verdun] did a great job pitching today, she really battled. She wasn’t as perfect today as she normally likes to be, but it was two great games all around. At the beginning of the year I told them that we needed to embrace the difficulty, embrace the hard way, and sometimes I think they make it personally harder on me so they can spit their words right back at me, so they like to prove me wrong. But really, I like to say you go to in the postseason as your seniors go, and that’s why we’re still playing tomorrow.”

On Kirsten Verdun’s workload on the mound …
“I thought it was a light workload for her, really. It was two games, it could have been one long game, basically this is not a big deal. I see she threw only 87 pitches this game, and we got her out in the sixth inning of the last game, we were fortunate enough to be able to do that. We had been resting her a lot. Her record is 32-6, but the last couple of weeks we haven’t played many midweek games. We’ve basically only been playing weekend series or the conference tournament, which was two games, one game each day. We’ve been giving her plenty of rest in between, giving her a light workload to prepare herself for the weeks coming up. I think she’s in great shape through this, and these pitchers, they’ve all grown up doing a lot more than what they’ve been doing now. Kirsten’s team won the 18-under ASA Nationals when she was in high school, so I know she probably threw three or four games in a day. She’s in better shape now, and it’ll just be more about being effective and efficient with your pitches tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the same pitcher twice tomorrow too.”


 

 

On success offensively compared to yesterday vs. James Madison …
“The difference was the fact that we were going to try and take it one pitch at a time and just focus on the next pitch, if the previous pitch didn’t turn out the way you wanted. Focus always on the next pitch, stay in the moment, control the controllables, all the coach speak we say all the time. It’s funny, Allie [Braden] talked about crushing the ball, when we tell them all the time about seeing yourself do what you want to do. Be visually athletic in your mind’s eye, which can turn over into what you can do physically. It works, it works a lot more often than people give them credit for, but they’re young. It takes a lot to be able to do that. I always say two people should have a headache after the game, me and the pitcher, because you’re focusing so much on every little thing. That’s what it was today, we were just a little bit more locked in on what it was we were trying to do in both games, really. We’ve been very fortunate. I think we were like 76-17 in the first inning, something crazy like that, so we scored four in the first game today, we scored another one early in the first inning again today. It’s just been something that, knock on wood, we’ve been able to do. That’s why we moved Kirsten [Verdun] to the top of the order, to try to generate a little more offense from the top.”

DePaul Student-Athletes

#13, Allie Braden, Sr., SS

On her home run …
“Well that pitch I actually really zeroed in on seeing the ball. I told myself right before the pitch that I was going to crush the ball, so I think that helped me focus down and zero in on the pitch being thrown.”

On how often she tells herself she is going to crush the ball …
“Not very often, but it worked for me in the past and I hit a home run doing the same thing.”

#7, Kirsten Verdun, Sr., P

On the possibility of pitching five games in three days …
“Well you know, I am prepared, it’s nothing that I wasn’t thinking that I would have to do. I had to be prepared for it coming into the postseason, it was no surprise that I would be pitching, so just a good night’s rest and obviously my arm is needed, but it has gotten me this far. So it should be okay.”

James Madison Press Conference

James Madison Head Coach Mickey Dean

Opening statement …
“Our kids played hard and that is all you can ask for as a coach. It wasn’t pretty, but daggum they battled the whole time and as long as they are battling you can’t complain as a coach. They fought.”

On the experience his team gained this weekend …
“That is what we talked about after the game is that we have to learn. We made some mistakes in that game that we normally don’t make. If we are not learning from our mistakes then we can’t get any better. It is a great experience. The thing you try to get across to your kids is that this (NCAA Tournament appearances) doesn’t happen every year. So when you get your opportunities you want to take advantage of your opportunities. That just shows that we need to go back and work hard and stay the course.”

On his thoughts on the Kentucky-DePaul regional final on Sunday …
“I think it is going to be a good ballgame as long as (Kirsten) Verdun continues to pitch the way she is pitching, keeping batters off balance. DePaul has started to swing the bat the last two games and they have some hitters that can do some damage. I think it is actually going to be some good ballgames.”

On what his seniors have meant to him …
“Everything. Everything. They are the program.”

On the fight his seniors showed and how they were leading during the game in the dugout …
“They are just so strong. They are great teammates.”

On Heather Kiefer’s performance in the circle …
“You know, Heather is a bulldog and she is stubborn. You are not supposed to be able to throw drop ball after drop ball after drop ball to great hitters and get away with it. But she does because she believes she can. When you believe you can do something, it doesn’t matter. She trusts her teammates. We made mistakes out there, but she was like, ‘Hey, it’s OK. It’s OK.’ Last year, that wasn’t Heather, but this year it was. It was a special group, you just had to be around them every day to understand it.

James Madison Student-Athletes

#19, Heather Kiefer, Jr., P

On advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons …
“These games are so intense. They bring out the best and the worst of a player. You grow as a team during the season, but during a regional it’s amazing how much you grow during an inning, during a game. It’s great. Postseason is my favorite (time of the year), everybody is out to win. Every team is here to win. It’s just great, because you get such competitive games. Every single pitch somebody is out to get you. It’s a cool feeling to be here, and knowing that we can compete here. 

On the season and looking forward to next year …
“We’ve done some great things this year. Our seniors prepared us. From starting the year in Hawaii to being here, we’ve had an amazing year. We’ve made some memories that we’ll never forget. This year has been really, really special to us.”

#20, Cassidy Clayton, Sr., 1B

On advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons …
“It’s an unreal experience. It’s something that I hope every JMU softball player gets to experience in the future.”

On if playing in an intense atmosphere is as fun as it is to watch for a fan …
“Absolutely. I mean, if we’re going to go out, I want to go out like that for sure. I wish it could have ended a little more fun. I’m not mad at anybody. This team worked really hard all year.”

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