DePaul Softball: Recapping Last Season

Despite bowing out in the Regional portion of the NCAA Tournament, the 2008-2009 season was another successful one for the DePaul softball team. It was one that saw records set, broken and milestones accomplished that will be hard to duplicate.

Prior to competing in the competitive Big East conference, DePaul played a non-conference schedule that saw them face six ranked teams, including local rival Northwestern. Despite going 2-4 in these games, the team knew that playing these games would prepare them not only for the conference season but the postseason as well.

The nonconference slate included games in three of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation, the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic, the NFCA Leadoff Classic and the Judi German Classic. It also included games against in-state rivals Illinois State, UIC, Northwestern, Loyola, Northern Illinois and Illinois, games in which they went 6-1.

The Demons were going into Big East play, trying to win their second title in three years. Coming into the conference portion of the schedule, it was thought that Louisville and Notre Dame would pose the greatest threats and that is how it ended up happening. The Demons split with each of the two, while only losing one more game, on their way to an impressive 18-3 conference mark. During the month of April, the season saw the DePaul squad go on a 10 game winning streak, including four games in which the team ‘run-ruled' their opponents by eight or more runs.

The 18-3 mark gave the Demons their second conference title in three years and awarded them the top seed in the conference tournament. There, the Demons made it to the finals, where they bowed out to the Irish, 1-0 in the finals.

Despite losing in the finals, the NCAA Selection Committee still awarded DePaul one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament and the team traveled to Columbia, Mo. to face the hometown Tigers of Missouri, Bradley Braves and Illinois Fighting Illini. After being upset by Bradley in their first game, the team was forced to go into the losers' bracket, therefore making their journey to the Super Regionals portion of the tournament even harder. After regaining their confidence by beating the Illini and Braves back-to-back, the Demons would have to beat the home team twice in order to advance. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, as Missouri squeaked out a 1-0 win on their way to a run that has them playing in this weekend's College World Series.

The season was not a total wash, however. It saw the team's coach, Eugene Lenti, pick up his 1,000th win in a doubleheader sweep of Providence. With Becca Heteniak winning her second Big East Pitcher of the Year award in a row, it gave DePaul the honorable distinction of being the home of the last three winners of the award. Senior third baseman Amber Patton joined Heteniak as Big East First Team All-Conference award winners. Jackie Tarulli-Fisher and Tara Voss represented the Demons on the third team and the coaching staff won the Coaches of the Year Award.

Patton made her own history last year as well. She set the record for hits during conference play with 41 and broke her own school record for hits in a season with 89. She finished the season with a .496 average, and was consistently one of the top hitters in the nation. She was also named a finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award and invited to the Women's National Team Selection Camp in early January.

Despite losing Patton, Tarulli-Fisher, Lauren Frankiewicz and Stephanie Blagaich, the Demons return an experience group and add an impressive freshman class to help them go for yet another conference title and NCAA berth.

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