The Valparaiso softball team split a pair of games on the second day of action at the Buccaneer Invitational in Charleston, S.C. on Saturday. The Crusaders battled in a 5-0 morning loss to #7/9 Tennessee before rebounding with a run-rule victory by a 9-1 final over host Charleston Southern in the afternoon.
“We did a good job today in all facets, despite the split,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We were swinging the bat well for most of the day. Our pitchers did a good job of making big pitches in key situations, and our defense executed what was given to them. I was pleased with today, but we need to come out ready to finish strong tomorrow.”
Tennessee jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first in the day’s opener for the Crusaders, as Raven Chavanne singled to lead off the game and eventually came home on a squeeze bunt. Valpo had a pair of batters reach in the first on errors, while the Crusaders also loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but could not score either time. Meanwhile, Valpo starting pitcher Sierra Pico (North Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) stranded eight Volunteer runners in the first four innings to keep the deficit at just one run.
Tennessee broke through in the top of the sixth, scoring four more runs for the game’s final margin, as Tory Lewis delivered an RBI single and Kat Dotson a three-run homer. A one-out single from sophomore Brittany Duncan (Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn) in the sixth would be the only baserunner for the Crusaders in the final two frames.
Pico took the loss for the Crusaders, falling to 1-4 on the year after giving up five runs in 5.1 innings of work while striking out three Tennessee batters. Ellen Renfroe improved to 6-1 for Tennessee (19-3) after tossing a complete-game three-hitter. Duncan picked up two of Valpo’s three base knocks, while fifth-year senior Joylyn Ichiyama (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) added the final base hit.
The second game would go much differently for the Crusaders, as Valpo never trailed. Redshirt junior Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) claimed the lead for the Crusaders with a two-run double in the second inning, while junior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) added a run to the Valpo advantage with a solo homer in the top of the fourth, her second round-tripper of the year.
The Crusaders then broke the game open with a six-spot in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Tarah McShane (Streamwood, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) drove in the first run of the frame with a sacrifice fly to score freshman Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central), and three consecutive Charleston Southern errors brought home four Crusader runs. Ranieri drove in the final Valpo run with an RBI single to score Marinec. Hayes Holdsworth connected on a one-out solo homer in the bottom half of the inning to prevent the shutout, but that would be the Buccaneers’ only run.
Freshman Taylor Weissenhofer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township) improved to 3-2 with the complete-game win, striking out eight batters in the five-inning outing. Jennifer Giles took the complete-game loss for Charleston Southern (4-9) to fall to 2-6 on the season. Ranieri registered a multi-hit game out of the leadoff spot in the order, while Wisniewski went 1-for-1 with two walks and three runs scored and Marinec drove in three runs.
Valparaiso (5-6) closes out play at the Buccaneer Invitational with another meeting against host Charleston Southern Sunday afternoon at noon CT. Live stats for the game will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.