Know your NCAA Softball Regional Opponent - Depaul

Figure I'd take a stab at these over the coming days to get you, our loyal RMN readers, more in tune with what the Mizzou Softball team has in store this coming weekend at the Columbia Regional.  Today, we finish off our look at the other three teams in the double-elimination tournament with Mizzou's potential opponent on Saturday, the Blue Demons of Depaul University.  If you need, here are the previous two previews on Illinois and Bradley

Season:

Overall, Depaul  finished the regular season at 37-12 with a 18-3 record in the Big East conference.  They went 14-2 at home, 12-3 on the road and 11-7 at neutral sites.  Their RPI is 18th per Warren Nolan RPI (which was updated through this past weekend).  They run-ruled eight opponents on the season, were run-ruled two times and played in only one extra-inning game which they won.

Common Opponents:

  • Michigan State - Depaul swept (winning 7-2 and 8-0), Mizzou won 10-4
  • Oklahoma - Depaul lost 5-2, Mizzou went 1-2 (lost 4-2, 6-2 and won 5-0)
  • They were supposed to play Va Tech (Mizzou win) and Nebraska (Mizzou split), but those games were cancelled

Non-Conference:

Depaul came into this season ranked highly and they planned to play a tough out of conference schedule (especially since the Big East is not a tremendous power).  Their biggest win was an early season 5-3 triumph over #6 RPI Michigan, and they won later in the season over #30 Illinois and #38 Fresno State.  They had losses to #8 OU, #13 Arizona State, #19 Northwestern and #26 UMASS.  They split games with #23 Florida-Golf Coast, and also had games cancelled against #5 Georgia and #22 Louisiana-Lafayette (of a rather high total of nine games cancelled).  They tried to load up in non-con because the only ranked team they would play in the Big East would be Louisville.  Once all was said and done, they completed their non-con docket with a record of 19-9

Big East Action:

Certainly not a bad start for Depaul, who won 9 of their first 11 games in conference, only falling to Seton Hall and Notre Dame.  They would rip off a few more wins in conference (and plenty outside of it) before they would take on fellow Big East heavyweight Louisville at home.  They would be run-ruled in the first game against the #17 RPI Cardinals, but came right back to run-rule them for the strange split.  They would not lose again until a regular season ending 1-0 loss to Notre Dame in the Big East Championship Game last weekend.

Offense:

Depaul is led by the leadoff hitter and 3B Amber Patten (senior).  She finished the season batting a ridiculous .509, scoring 47 runs on 82 hits (10 doubles) with 13 steals and an OBP of .554 (leading the team in all categories).  The only other two people over .300 were where Depaul got their pop from, as the team was led in HR's (12) and RBI's (49) from P Becca Heteniak (junior), who hit .336 and had a slugging of .688.   Just behind her in HR's (10) and RBI's (47) was C Jackie Tarulli-Fisher (senior), who also hit .336.  On the whole, Depaul hit .296 (.220 opposition) with 38 HR's (34 opposition), slugging of .441 (.349 opposition) and OBP of .390 (.289 opposition).  They stole 78 bases (24 opposition) on 110 chances.

Defense:

Depaul was not spectacular in the field, committing 57 errors on the season for a percentage of .959 (opposition at .950).  Amber Patten and SS Tara Voss were the weak links, accounting for 28 errors total (13 and 15), making the left side of the field pretty vulnerable.

Pitching:

Becca Heteniak is who should be expected to throw most of Depaul's games, as she was the workhorse of the staff this past season.  The junior is a dominating presence on the mound, standing an imposing 5'11.  She started 30 of the 49 games for Depaul, completing 28 of them on her way to a 24-7 record (with seven shutouts)with a 1.50 ERA.  She threw a little over 200 innings, giving up only 123 hits and striking out 224 while walking 67.  Batters hit only .169 against her, though she did give up 21 HR's on the season.  If it is not Heteniak, then look for Lindsey Dean (soph) who went 6-2 with a 2.94 ERA or Lauren Frankiewicz (senior) who went 7-3 with a 3.57 ERA.  On the whole, Depaul had a team ERA of 2.16 with eight shutouts on the season.

Fun Fact:

Prominent alumni include Chicago mayors Richard M. Daley and the late Richard J. Daley, neither of whom played women's softball.

Overall Thoughts:

This is a solid team, no doubt about it.  They have a good lineup which finds their top five hitters being juniors or older.  Heteniak is as solid as anyone in the circle and Patten is an absolute nightmare at the top of this lineup.  I fully expect to see them playing Saturday at noon after dispatching Bradley on Friday, but it will be interesting to see how they handle that from a pitching standpoint.  Will they throw Heteniak at 2:30 p.m. on Friday and bring her back or try to steal a win with one of the other two hurlers?  With only one really dominant starter, the key for Depaul will be to minimize games played on Saturday to keep their ace as fresh as possible.

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