The Valparaiso softball team split two games Saturday in Boise, Idaho at the Springhill Suites Invitational, earning revenge on Weber State for Friday’s loss with a 10-7 victory before surrendering three runs in the bottom of the sixth to Boise State in a 6-5 loss.
“We played much better today – well enough to get two wins, but we couldn’t quite pull the last one out,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “I was happy with the way we swung the bats today and our defense was solid. I was definitely pleased with our effort.”
The opener against Weber State got off to a rough start for the Crusaders, as the Wildcats got out to a quick lead with two runs in the top of the first. But Valpo responded in a big way, plating five runs with two outs in its half of the first. Sophomore Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) singled with two away and came around to score on a double from junior Tarah McShane (Streamwood, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic).
Sophomore Janelle Bouchard (Kennebunk, Maine/Kennebunk) followed with an RBI single, plating McShane to tie the game at 2-2. Following a single from senior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley), fellow senior Amanda Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran) stepped up and connected on her first home run of the year, a three-run shot which made it 5-2 Crusaders.
Valpo posted three more runs in the bottom of the second inning to extend its lead. Fifth-year senior Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) and freshman Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) tallied back-to-back singles and Ranieri walked to load the bases. Marinec came home on a passed ball, which moved both of the other runners into scoring position, where they would later score on a two-run double by Wisniewski, pushing the lead to 8-2.
A two-run homer from Brooke Ford in the top of the fourth cut the lead to 8-4, but the Crusaders responded with two of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Valpo did it without the benefit of a hit, loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter. Wisniewski was then hit by a pitch to drive in Ranieri, and Korb drew a four-pitch walk which scored McShane. Weber State connected on a pair of solo homers in the sixth and scored another run in the seventh to draw within three runs, but that was as close as the Wildcats would get.
Sophomore Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) earned the win in relief to improve to 2-2, throwing 5.2 innings and striking out nine. Morgan Allaband took the loss for Weber State (11-6), falling to 0-2 as she started and allowed seven runs in 1.1 innings of work. Wisniewski was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs, while Ranieri (2-for-2, 3 R, 2 BB) and Marinec (2-for-4, R) each had multi-hit games as well. Korb drove in a team-best four runs.
In the nightcap, Boise State scored one run in the first and two in the second to jump to an early 3-0 lead. The Crusaders fought back, however, plating three in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3. Valpo loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single, with McShane then drawing a bases-loaded walk to push the first run. A first-pitch single from Bouchard moved each of the runners up 60 feet, cutting the deficit to one run, and Korb then drove in the tying run on an error by the left fielder.
Valpo claimed the lead in the top of the sixth, as McShane connected on a two-run homer, her third round-tripper of the year, to score Marinec as well and make it a 5-3 game. But the Broncos scored three in the bottom of the sixth, with the key blow coming in the form of a two-run single with two outs by Ashley Palmer, to take the lead, and Valpo went down in order in the seventh.
Weissenhofer took the loss for the Crusaders, falling to 1-3, as she gave up the game-winning run in relief. Rebecca Patton earned the win in relief for Boise State (9-10) to improve to 8-5. Marinec had her second two-hit game of the day out of the leadoff spot, scoring two runs as well, to lead the Valpo offense.
Valparaiso (4-12) closes out tournament play on Sunday with two more games. The Crusaders take on Indiana at 11 a.m. CT and follow against Boise State at 1:15 p.m. Live stats for both games are available through ValpoAthletics.com.