The Valparaiso softball team claimed the lead Sunday morning against Stetson with a run in the top of the third, but the lead would prove short-lived, as the hosts scored five runs in the bottom half of the frame to send the Crusaders to a 5-1 defeat in the finale of the Hatter Classic in DeLand, Fla.
Valpo earned the lead in the third with solid fundamental softball. Junior Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) led off the frame with a single through the right side and moved up to second on a sacrifice by sophomore Lindsey Norway (Chicago, Ill./Chicago Christian). Two batters later, fifth-year senior Joylyn Ichiyama (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) knocked a single back through the middle to plate Doerffler and give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
But the Hatters would score all their runs in the bottom half of the inning, doing it with station-to-station softball. A wild pitch tied the game with one out, and Jessica Griffin followed with an RBI single. Later in the frame, a bases-loaded hit by pitch would make it 3-1 Stetson, and two batters later, Jordan Cleghorn brought home the final two runs with a single of her own. Valpo went down in order in each of the final four innings.
“We were not very good today,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We were out-played in every way and not true to what Valpo Softball is all about.”
Taylor Weissenhofer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township) suffered the loss for the Crusaders, falling to 5-4 after giving up three runs in 2.1 innings of work. Junior Ashlyn Michalak (Holland, Ohio/Springfield [Owens C.C.]) entered in relief as Valpo's third pitcher and tossed 3.1 innings of shutout softball. Meredith Owen earned her second complete-game win in as many days for Stetson (13-6), improving to 10-2.
Valparaiso (9-8) plays a pair of games midweek at Florida Gulf Coast. The Crusaders will take Maine in addition to FGCU on Wednesday afternoon.