A pair of errors from Valparaiso led to four unearned runs for Memphis early on in the Crusaders’ finale at the Ragin’ Cajun Invitational in Lafayette, La. on Sunday, and Valpo would not be able to recover, falling 7-3 to the Tigers. Senior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) represented Valpo on the All-Tournament Team after hitting .538 with four runs scored and four RBIs over the course of the weekend.
“Today’s game was a microcosm of our entire weekend,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We helped Memphis score, and then pulled the game within one run only to give them a large lead right back.”
After both teams went scoreless in the first, a one-out error put a baserunner on for Memphis in the top of the second, and Calli Irvin later connected on a two-out, two-run homer. Another miscue kept the inning alive for the Tigers, who took advantage, as they followed with a triple and a single to plate two more runs, giving them a 4-0 advantage.
Valpo answered with three runs in the bottom of the third to close within one run. Freshman Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) and sophomore Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) reached on singles, the latter with one out, and then two batters later, both runners crossed the plate thanks to a pair of Memphis errors. With the inning extended, Wisniewski stepped up two batters later and delivered an RBI single to score Janelle Bouchard (Kennebunk, Maine/Kennebunk) to make it a 4-3 ballgame.
Memphis would respond immediately in the fourth, posting three straight singles to score one run and then drawing back-to-back walks later in the frame to plate another run to push its lead to 6-3. The Crusaders would leave two on base in the fifth and one in the sixth in their efforts to close the gap, and the Tigers added an insurance run in the seventh on a two-out RBI single. Valpo was actually able to bring the potential tying run to the plate in the seventh with two outs, but a pop-out ended the threat.
Senior Ashlyn Michalak (Temperance, Mich./Springfield [Owens C.C.]) took the loss for Valpo, falling to 0-1 despite giving up just two earned runs out of six total runs allowed in her 3.1 innings of work. Sophomore Sierra Pico (Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) gave up just two hits and one run in 3.2 innings of relief. Ellen Roberts improved to 2-2 for Memphis (4-5) with a complete-game effort in the circle. Ranieri went 3-for-3 to lead the Crusader effort offensively, while Wisniewski also picked up a pair of base hits.
“We didn’t play well enough to earn wins this weekend – despite our play, we still had chances and opportunities in each game, but weren’t able to come through,” said Stevens. “We need to improve in every facet of the game – we have some things to overcome and we will work to do that in the coming days. We did have some very good individual performances this weekend and some solid games by some players, but not enough to be better than our opponents.”
Valparaiso (2-7) has next weekend off before starting its spring break trip the following weekend at the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., hosted by Arizona. The Crusaders will face Iowa, Indiana, Longwood and UT-Arlington in addition to the host Wildcats.