Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Sports News

Redbirds host DePaul in final nonconference game

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[April 11, 2012]  NORMAL -- The Illinois State softball team will conclude its nonconference schedule by welcoming in-state rival DePaul to Marian Kneer Stadium today (Wednesday) for a 5 p.m. contest. The Redbirds will also host a StrikeOut Cancer event to raise awareness, support and dollars for women's cancer research.

ISU (22-17) opened a seven-game homestand last weekend by dropping two of three games to Missouri Valley Conference foe Evansville. The Purple Aces posted a 2-1 victory in Friday night's opener, before Illinois State countered with a 4-0 win in game two Saturday afternoon. UE claimed its first series victory over the Redbirds since 2004 by winning the rubber match 4-3. Senior Megan Warner tossed a five-hit shutout in the lone win for ISU, and junior Jhavon Hamilton led the offense by going 5 for 10 with two home runs, three RBIs and three runs scored.

Sophomore Laura Canopy leads Illinois State offensively with a .340 average and a .452 on-base percentage. Hamilton ranks second on the team with a .333 batting average and is tied for the team lead with six home runs and 21 RBIs for a team-best .553 slugging percentage. Senior Liz Andrews brings a .324 average in Wednesday's game with seven doubles, three homers and 12 runs driven in.

The Redbird pitching staff is led by senior Jordan Birch, who is 13-11 on the season with a 1.76 ERA. Birch has tossed 131 innings and ranks second in the Valley with 134 strikeouts around just 27 walks. The Monroe, Wash., native is limiting opposing hitters to a .207 average and has posted seven shutouts in 22 starts. Warner has started the other 16 games for ISU and owns a 3.60 ERA with an 8-5 record. The Milan, Ill., native has recorded 36 strikeouts in 85 2-3 innings of work.

DePaul (21-12) was to play a nonconference game at Northern Illinois on Tuesday night in DeKalb before making the trip to Normal on Wednesday to wrap up a six-game road trip. The Blue Demons have won three of their last four games and swept Georgetown in a Big East series last weekend. DePaul returns 10 letter winners and five starters from last year's squad that finished 41-15 overall and 19-2 in the Big East. The Blue Demons were tabbed as the preseason favorites in the Big East and are under the direction of Eugene Lenti, who is in his 31st season at the helm of the program.

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DePaul is hitting .284 as a team, with three players hitting over .370: Megan Coronado, Samantha Dodd and Kirsten Verdun. Coronado hit .395 in the first 14 games of the season for the Blue Demons but has not appeared in a game since, and Dodd is hitting .388 with a team-best 38 hits. Verdun has been the top power hitter and ace of the pitching staff for DePaul. The sophomore boasts a .714 slugging percentage and leads the team with nine doubles, eight home runs and 33 RBIs. In the circle, Verdun is 13-6 with a 1.80 ERA and has retired 101 opposing hitters via strikeout, while issuing only 35 walks in 112 2-3 innings. Bree Brown has made nine starts for DePaul and is 5-3 with a 2.69 ERA.

The all-time series between Illinois State and DePaul is tied 15-15-1, with the Blue Demons winning the latest meeting 10-6 last season in Chicago. DePaul has won three of the last four matchups, with Illinois State's last victory coming in 2010.

In addition to the StrikeOut Cancer event, Wednesday will also be Dollar Day at Marian Kneer Stadium, as drinks and hot dogs will be available for just $1. Former ISU standout Kara Nelson will serve as the Redbird ambassador for Wednesday's game and will be throwing out the first pitch.

[Text from news release from Illinois State University]

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