DePaul alumna makes smooth transition from student to teacher with the Blue Demons softball team

“Bubbly,” “positive,” and “inspiring” are words DePaul’s women’s softball team volunteered to characterized Lynsey Ciezki, their beloved assistant coach, who is now on her second season with the team.

Veteran pitcher Kennedy Garcia, who is a senior and one of the club’s more vocal leaders, actually went as far as to say that Ciezki’s optimism is infectious throughout their entire clubhouse.

“We all love Ciezki because she brings so much positive energy, I literally always call her a ray of sunshine. She kind of balances everything out, and if you’re having a bad day, she’s always there to pick you up,” Garcia highlighted.

Ciezki is no stranger to DePaul’s storied reputation as a women’s softball superpower, having starred for the Blue Demons from 2009-2012 as a player. During that period, Ciezki not only helped the program qualify for the NCAA tournament every year, she also earned BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament team member selections in both 2011 and 2012.

Image courtesy of DePaul Athletics

And according to head coach Eugene Lenti, it was Ciezki’s work ethic and versatility on the field that made her so valuable to his roster nearly a decade ago, but also as a member of his staff since she returned in 2017.

“I always said when I had her as a player that if I had 10 of her, I’d be the happiest guy around because she was just a great team player. She could play anywhere and was very versatile, and as a coach she just keeps getting better every day. She works at her craft, and the girls love her,” said Leinti, in praise of his former player.

In fact, when Lenti’s Blue Demons played Nebraska this past March, he noted that Hall of Fame coach Rhonda Revelle made it her priority to compliment Ciezki’s work with DePaul’s infielders, whose strong defensive play contributed immensely to a 1-0 victory.

“She’s a great infield coach. As a matter of fact, the head coach of Nebraska [Rhonda Revelle] came up to her when we were at Cal State Fullerton, and complimented her on how our infielders played and how she worked them out before the game,” Lenti offered.

But Lenti isn’t surprised in the slightest that his student is now having success as the teacher, “You could kind of see that she had it in her back then, even as a player,” said Lenti, who has been at DePaul for almost four decades now.

Photo of Eugene Lenti, courtesy of DePaul Athletics

While Lenti and DePaul’s players only have positive things to say about Ciezki involvement on the coaching side of things, she acknowledges that those feelings expressed by members of the team are mutual.

“Oh man, I think it’s awesome. I love it. When I played here, I had a great four years, everyone is like family to me,” said the 27-year-old assistant coach.

When her playing days were up at DePaul, she admitted that she needed to adjust her mindset. All she knew was playing, and when her four years on the field were over with, the prospect of reinventing herself seemed daunting.

“After my last game here, it was hard. I’ve been an athlete my whole life and not playing a sport, it was a different process. Coming back to coach I feel like I am playing. Sometimes during practices I jump in with them.”

However, her outlook has evolved, and she now appreciates the game of softball from an entirely different vantage point, “Actually, it’s now more fun for me to see someone succeed after we work on something than it is playing in the game. Evolving as a coach has been awesome because you just want to see the smiles on their faces,” she added.

For Ciezki, the biggest difference she has noticed between playing and coaching, is that she now thinks the game a lot more than she ever did when she was in the lineup herself.

“You see a whole different side of the game. It’s more about keeping the kids upbeat, it’s more mental. After the games I’m exhausted just because I’m thinking of everything. When I was a player I would just react to it and play,” she explained.

Lynsey Ciezki in her playing days, courtesy of DePaul Athletics

Even though Ciezki often wishes she was still playing, she acknowledges that being offered the chance to coach alongside Eugene Lenti at her alma mater is an opportunity that she is still so grateful to have. She remembers the day she received a formal offer from coach Lenti as being surreal for her.

“I’ve always wanted to be a college coach, but I never knew it would be back at DePaul, so when Eugene called me that one day, it was over the summer and I was in Colorado. It was a little shocking, but it was awesome; I called everyone I knew, I was so excited about it,” Ciezki recounted.

Someone else who was ecstatic when Ciezki was brought in last season as an assistant coach, is current sophomore Angela Scalzitti, who has gracefully patrolled the Blue Demons outfield all season.

“She’s the nicest person I think you’ll ever meet on this planet. Sometimes practice can get really monotonous, but she finds fun ways for us to practice with each and every drill. It’s hard not to be happy when you’re around her,” expressed Scalzitti.

Photo by Agustina Manrique

Prior to DePaul, Ciezky coached Scalzitti on a travel team where they developed a close working relationship that is still flourishing today.

“I did coach Angela Scalzitti before I came here, so I have a prior relationship, I coached her during travel ball, she’s been a slap [hitter] her whole life. This last game she got a grand slam, it was her first one, it was cool to see her run around the bases. I actually teared up,” Ciezky conceded.

Throughout Eugene Lenti’s prolific tenure at the help of DePaul’s softball program, he recognizes that his success as a head coach is firmly correlated to the incredible athletes he’s been able to recruit and work with. But he also credits the influence of having many astute coaching minds on his staff over the years.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good assistant coaches, so she’s another one on a long list of great assistant coaches we’ve had here at DePaul. But when you do have assistant coaches like Lynsey, you know that you can rely on them to get things done the way that you want them to.”

Using Twitter & video to promote the DePaul women’s softball team

After several Blue Demons games were postponed due to inclement weather, it was great to finally spend some time at Cacciatore Stadium with the DePaul women’s softball team during their recent series against St. John University.

It’s always a great time watching these athletes hone their craft, and from the below tweets, you’ll see that I was able to capture some need little snippets of what this exciting group is all about!

Despite no runs, few hits, and cool weather, Guaranteed Rate Field is still fun place for White Sox fans

As Chris Volstad took the hill for the White Sox against the Seattle Mariners on Monday afternoon, temperatures were still slightly chilly. And in a game that featured no runs and just five hits from the home team, you would naturally assume that an already modest crowd was bored.

But Sox fans who did show up for the 4:10 CT start time enjoyed themselves despite the uneventful game on the field, and the eventual losing outcome. While I explored the ballpark for the first time, I discovered the greatest parts of Guaranteed Rate Field. Below are many of the discoveries I made at the ballpark that allowed White Sox fans to still have a fun time.

DePaul softball showing reasons for optimism in 2018 as defending Big East conference champions

For the second time this week, the DePaul Blue Demons won’t play due to weather. After their scheduled contest on Monday against Illinois State was cancelled, they won’t be playing in Omaha, Nebraska this weekend against Creighton either.

While DePaul no longer features the likes of slugger Nicole Pihl this year, the team has been fairly successful anyway in 2018. Currently, they hold a 24-13 overall record, and a record of 7-2 in conference play.

Photo from the DePaul Blue Demons

Pihl led DePaul and the BigEast conference with 14 home runs last season in conjunction with a .787 slugging percentage. But while there are obvious repercussions that come with losing a player who was that productive on a team, DePaul’s core has done an remarkable job filling that void by committee so far in 2018.

Blue Demons catcher and part-time third baseman Morgan Greenwood (Junior) has helped lead the charge so far, having registered five homers, 25 RBIs, and a .557 slugging percentage through 37 games played and 106 at bats.

NCAA Softball
Photo from the DePaul Blue Demons

Senior Megan Leyva has been equally valuable for the Blue Demons since their first game on February 9th at the Total Control Sports Invitational. In 36 games and 103 at bats, Leyva has hit six long balls, and has contributed 26 RBIs and a .583 slugging percentage at the plate. As a pitcher who sometimes plays in the outfield as well, Leyva has a vital role on the club defensively too, and is undoubtedly a major part of its leadership group.

Photo from the DePaulia

Another key piece of the puzzle for DePaul is Plainfield, Illinois native Jessica Cothern. Cothern definitely isn’t having anything even close to resembling a sophomore slump after winning the award for freshman of the year in the Big East conference last season. She’s hit six big flies, knocked in 21 runs, accompanied by a .492 slugging percentage.

Head coach Eugene Lenti is without question another key personnel member who will inevitably reappear in content that I produce moving forward about his team. Lenti has been affiliated with DePaul for over 36 years, and in February, he won his 1,300th game as the team’s head coach.

Courtesy of the Daily Herald

Although Lenti is the head coach for the Blue Demons, Lindsay Platt serves as an associate head coach, and she plays an extremely prominent role working with DePaul pitchers. Having also played for the Blue Demons during her time as a student, Platt is considered the best pitcher in program history.

Photo from DePaul Athletics

While it may seem like repeating as Big East champions in 2018 will be a tough task, the Blue Demons have an enthusiastic group with a strong desire to win each time they step out onto the field.

As I begin putting out content, I hope to share many wonderful moments with you via this website, and on social media. You can follow me on Twitter @davidpstein_, and stay tuned for an Instagram account that’s in the works.

The Blue Demons play their next game on April 18, against UIC at Cacciatore Stadium, and you can bet that I’ll be there to provide coverage.

For now, thanks for reading my first introductory piece, and be prepared for much more to come!

Golden Knights Reassign Hyka and Lagace to Wolves, and should benefit from time in the NHL

Forward Tomas Hyka and goaltender Maxime Lagace were both reassigned to the Wolves on Wednesday, signaling the returns of left winger James Neal and goalie Malcolm Subban to Vegas’ roster.

Neal Subban
Photo was retrieved on Pinterest

Since being recalled in February because of an injury to Malcolm Subban, Lagace only appeared in two games for the Golden Knights. Hyka, managed one goal and a pair of assists in 10 total games while playing on Vegas’ third line.

Vegas Golden Knights v Colorado Avalanche
Maxime Lagace filling in for Malcolm Subban

Getting Hyka back will especially be an added benefit for the Wolves, given that prior to his call up with the Golden Knights, Hyka had registered 34 points in 33 games this season for the Wolves. Hyka is a huge offensive threat for the Wolves, and getting him back with some NHL experience under his belt should make him soar.

The addition of Lagace will also make a difference to the goaltending group, especially with another pair of back-to-back games upcoming for the Wolves this weekend. And it’s a foregone conclusion that Hyka and Lagace’s teammates will be excited to see them upon their return from the show.