Goss: Kirsten Verdun gets it done with arm, bat
April 26, 2012 5:36PM
DePaul's Kirsten Verdun. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 28, 2012 9:04AM
The Big East Conference selects a weekly honor roll for softball, signifying which players in the league turned in the best performances the previous week.
Maybe they should name the award for Kirsten Verdun, as often as her name appears on the list.
Verdun, DePaul’s sophomore left-handed pitcher/first baseman from Coal City, has received five weekly Big East honors, and she also was the USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week once early this month.
To say Verdun has been Ms. Everything for the Blue Demons (28-18, 9-7) would be an understatement. The former Herald-News Player of the Year is 20-11 as a pitcher with a 1.75 ERA. In 192 innings, she has allowed 147 hits and 53 walks while striking out 194. Opponents hit .211 against her.
This week, Verdun pitched both ends of a doubleheader split, all 16 innings, against Syracuse (35-12, 12-4) and struck out 27.
At the plate, she’s hitting .368 (50-for-136) with 12 doubles, nine home runs and 37 RBI. She boasts a .654 slugging percentage and .452 on-base mark for an outstanding 1.106 OPS. For good measure, she is 6-for-6 in stolen bases.
Last season, Verdun was 22-4 with a 2.33 ERA and hit .304 with 11 homers and 43 RBI. She’s well on her way to a career for the record book.
Verdun is the obvious headliner, but when you review the NCAA Division I ranks you see this area is well-represented with softball talent.
Verdun’s teammate, Katelyn Braget (Lockport), is a senior outfielder at DePaul. She’s hitting .265 (26-for-136) with five doubles, seven homers and 27 RBI.
Jhavon Hamilton (Joliet West) is a junior outfielder at Illinois State (29-20) and one of the area’s top players not at DePaul. She’s hitting .315 (51-for-162) with seven doubles, two triples, nine homers and 29 RBI. She has a .549 slugging percentage and is 10-for-10 in stolen bases.
Hamilton was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference pick last year, when she hit .359 with eight homers and 31 RBI overall and .462 with an .800 slugging percentage in league games.
Another area product having a good run is sophomore outfielder Olivia Bell (Plainfield South). Playing at Loyola (20-20), she’s hitting .315 (35-for-111) with three doubles, a triple and eight RBI. She is 5-for-6 in stolen bases.
Another sophomore outfielder, Lyndsay Doyle (Minooka), is hitting .289 (34-for-111) for Big Ten power Michigan (32-13, 12-3). She has driven in six runs and is 6-for-7 in steals.
Also at Michigan, senior third baseman Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield Central) is hitting .225 (25-for-111) with five doubles, three homers, 17 RBI and four steals in five attempts.
At Northern Iowa (34-12), sophomore all-purpose player Gina Brown (Lincoln-Way Central) has turned on the power. She’s hitting .312 (29-for-93) with five doubles, eight homers and 32 RBI.
Brown’s teammates at Northern Iowa include senior catcher/first baseman Courtney Dunker (Lincoln-Way Central), freshman infielder Aly Zembruski (Minooka) and sophomore utility player Emma Plese (Joliet West). Dunker is hitting .204 (21-for-103) with eight doubles, two triples, five homers and 25 RBI. Zembruski is at .220 (9-for-41) and Plese at .156 (5-for-32).
Sophomore infielder Chloe Oprzedek (Providence) has hit with power for Arkansas (24-22). She’s hitting .250 (30-for-120) with seven doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 24 RBI.
The Southern Illinois-Edwardsville lineup includes junior catcher Samantha Stanicek (Lockport) and junior infielder Taylor Tooley (Plainfield Central). Stanicek is hitting .207 (24-for-116) with four doubles, two homers and 15 RBI. Tooley is at .192 (23-for-120) with four doubles, a triple, two homers and 13 RBI.
Bryanna Phelan (Coal City) is a freshman outfielder at Northern Illinois (18-29), where she’s hitting .230 (20-for-87) and is 5-for-6 in stolen bases.
Lia Romeo (Lockport), a freshman catcher/infielder, is hitting .248 (31-for-125) for Western Illinois (23-22). She has seven doubles, two triples and 18 RBI.
Sophomore outfielder Caitlyn Anderson (Plainfield North) is hitting .212 (7-for-33) for Austin Peay (16-28). Freshman outfielder Sam DeMasi (Lockport) is at .167 (6-for-36) at Seton Hall (20-24). And freshman pitcher/first baseman Amanda Oberc (Lockport) is on the roster at Wisconsin (29-13).
Freshman infielder Lauren Loies (Lincoln-Way East) is a walk-on utility player at Illinois (21-22), where Katie O’Connell (Joliet West), the former Illini second baseman, is an assistant coach.
There may be other area players on the Division I level that I failed to include here. And, of course, our area also has plenty of others enjoying success on the Division II, Division III and NAIA levels, including those at Lewis and St. Francis.
Bottom line: This continues to be a fertile softball area.