The Valparaiso softball team was unable to push any runs across the plate on the opening day of the 2014 season on Friday, falling 6-0 to IPFW and 3-0 to Campbell at the Hampton Inn Invitational in Buies Creek, N.C.
“We’re going to have to make better decisions offensively at the plate and not get in a position to let one big inning beat us moving forward,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens.
Valpo threatened immediately in the bottom of the first inning, as sophomore Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) led off with a single and senior Kimberlin Wallace (Newton, Ill./Community [Lake Land C.C.]) followed with a four-pitch walk. But three consecutive strikeouts thwarted the scoring chance, and both sides would go down in order in each of the next two innings.
IPFW broke through for all six of its runs in the top of the fourth inning. Dani Pugh started the scoring with a two-run homer, followed by RBI singles from Emily Olszewski and Kayti Hanson. Alex Bousquet capped the six-run frame with a two-run single. A one-out single from freshman Samantha Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) in the fourth inning proved to be the lone baserunner for the Crusaders over the last four innings.
Sophomore Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) took the loss for the Crusaders, falling to 0-1 after surrendering six runs in four-plus innings of work. Sophomore Sierra Pico (Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) entered in relief and threw three shutout innings. Miranda Kramer earned the win for IPFW (1-0), striking out 14 and allowing just two hits in a complete-game effort.
Ranieri led off the nightcap against Campbell with a double in the top of the first, while senior Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) advanced to second after reaching on an error in the third frame, but the Crusaders couldn’t advance either runner beyond second base. The Camels scored their three runs in the bottom of the third courtesy of an RBI single by Olivia Scarborough, followed by a steal of home from Stephanie Jones, while Jessica Anderson later scored on a Crusader error.
Senior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) got within 60 feet of scoring in the top of the sixth, leading off with a walk and advancing to third on a pair of groundouts, but couldn’t complete the journey. Then Valpo mounted one last threat in the seventh, getting the tying run to the plate following a Stewart single and a walk from freshman Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) before a fielder’s choice ended the game.
Stewart had a pair of hits in her second career game to lead the Crusader offense. Pico went the distance in the circle for Valpo, falling to 0-1 despite surrendering just two earned runs. Courtney Roberts earned the complete-game victory for Campbell (1-0).
Valparaiso (0-2) will look to close the weekend on a winning note on Saturday as the Crusaders play two more games in Buies Creek. The Crusaders take on UMass Lowell at 4:30 p.m. CT before facing Seton Hall at 7 p.m. Both games will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com.