Saturday, April 16, 2016

Maize stands out for DePaul in Saturday's doubleheader spilt of Butler

                                 Photo Credit: Geno Green

For the DePaul Blue Demons, the BIG EAST Conference slate has proven to be an essential second chance to gather momentum after a 7-20 start to the season.

Despite winning 9-1 in five innings against the Butler Bulldogs (23-17, 6-4 BIG EAST) in Game 1 on Saturday and flipping course with a 10-1 loss in Game 2 at Cacciatore Stadium, the Blue Demons (19-21, 9-1 BIG EAST) have been riding on the superb play of dual-threat Morgan Maize all season.

Maize's effort was on full display in Game 1 with nine strikeouts, highlighted by punching out the side in the first and fifth innings and a one-hitter to move to 14-12 on the season.

The effort as a batter turned out to be as effective for Maize, going 3-3 on the day, with a 2-run HR in the bottom of the fourth inning to put DePaul ahead of Butler 8-1.

"It is definitely a confidence builder and is something we have been working on all season," Maize said. "[Non-conference] play kind of knocked down my confidence and then coming in and having nine strikeouts is like, yes, I can do this!"

After a 9-1 win in five innings due to the run rule on Butler, DePaul looked to increase its winning streak to 13 in the back end of the doubleheader.

Like the famous Disney movie Freaky Friday, DePaul switched identities with Butler as it could only produce one run on ten hits and the impact of not having Maize on the mound was enormous. Megan Leyva (5-9) went the distance for DePaul in the loss and surrendered 15 hits and 10 runs.

DePaul coach Eugene Lenti knows the defense brought its best effort in the two games, but the offense lacked in the second contest.

"Obviously, Morgan throws like a number one and with nine strikeouts, three walks and one run, it was a much different game in game one," Lenti said.

"We played great defense in both games and didn't take advantage of our opportunities in the second game offensively. In the second game, Megan didn't have it today and that's going to happen every once in a while. We've won 12 in a row, but it was that lucky 13 I guess. 

Looking Ahead:

DePaul will look to increase its two and a half game lead on Creighton in the conference standings with the rubber match of the three-game series against Butler tomorrow at Noon.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.