Valparaiso ended the best season in the school’s history of softball on Friday evening with an 8-1 loss to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in the consolation bracket of the Horizon League Championships hosted by Loyola in Chicago, Ill.
Valpo jumped out to a quick start in the opening inning as Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver H.S.) hit a solo homer over the wall in left-centerfield. For the junior, it was her team-leading sixth blast of the season.
Green Bay played small ball to jump start a seven-run second inning. A walk and three bunts scored the first run before back-to-back singles to left made it 3-1. Another bases loaded free pass and an error increased the advantage to five. A hit batsman and sacrifice fly increased the lead to 7-1 with two outs. Missy Schleicher then singled through the right side to score the eighth run of the inning, but was called out when she had not officially reentered the contest after she was pinch run for earlier in the frame.
The Phoenix again loaded the bases in the fourth with no one out, but Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central H.S.) came on to strike out the next two on the way to getting out of the jam.
A Schleicher double in the sixth added the final run of the game for Green Bay (13-24) and the Crusaders were unable to mount an offensive threat the rest of the way.
Anna Bluemal retired 18 of the final 20 Valpo hitters, scattering lead-off hits to Walter in the fourth and Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) in the seventh. She struck out 10 without walking a batter on the way to the victory (9-11).
Jenna Woepse went 3-for-5 to lead the Phoenix offensively as Green Bay had eight hits and took advantage of four Valpo errors. Carrie Franson (Poynette, Wis./Poynette H.S.) suffered the loss (3-2) for Valpo, allowing six runs, three of which were earned, and four hits in an inning plus of work in the circle.
Valparaiso finished the season with a 30-19 record, setting a school record for victories.