The Valparaiso softball team split a pair of games on its final day of action at the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, beating BYU 6-4 before falling to Hawai’i in bracket play to close its spring break trip, 8-4.
“We played much better today – swung our bats better,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We need to get tougher in some situations and find a way to avoid the big innings, which continue to get us. We’re ready to come back – I think we learned a lot from this trip. It wasn’t easy, but we will be better for it.”
Valpo started the scoring against BYU in the top of the third inning, as senior Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) drew a one-out walk and eventually came around to score on a single from freshman Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead. BYU scored two runs in its half of the fourth, however, to briefly take a one-run advantage.
Valpo answered immediately with three runs in the top of the fifth to re-gain the lead. Sophomore Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) drew a bases-loaded walk to force home Doerffler, and junior Tarah McShane (Streamwood, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) followed with a run-scoring single to score fifth-year senior Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist). Another bases-loaded walk, this time from sophomore Janelle Bouchard (Kennebunk, Maine/Kennebunk), brought home Calombaris as the Crusaders ended the frame leading 4-2.
BYU would tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, scoring runs on a throwing error and an RBI single to make it a 4-4 ballgame. But the Crusaders responded in the top of the seventh emphatically, as Ranieri reached on an error and McShane followed with a two-run homer, her fourth round-tripper of the year, for the final margin. BYU put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but an infield fly and a groundout secured the win for Valpo.
Sophomore Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) improved to 3-5 in the circle for Valpo, going the final 1.1 innings in relief. Fellow sophomore Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]) threw four innings and didn’t give up an earned run in the start. McKenna Bull took the loss for BYU (10-16), falling to 3-7 despite striking out 14 batters. Calombaris and McShane both had a pair of base hits in the win.
With three teams tied at a 1-3 record entering bracket play, two of them would have to face off in the 4-5 game to play into the four-team bracket, and the Crusaders were drawn against the Rainbow Wahine. Hawai’i claimed the lead in the top of the first, as a solo homer and a triple with two outs in the first gave the hosts a 2-0 lead. A two-out RBI single by Bouchard plated Calombaris in the bottom half of the frame, however, to cut the deficit in half.
Hawai’i added a run on a sacrifice fly in the third and then scored five runs in the fourth inning to push its lead to 8-1, but the Crusaders would not give in. Freshman Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) picked up an RBI single and senior Kimberlin Wallace (Newton, Ill./Community [Lake Land C.C.]) registered a run-scoring groundout in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to 8-3. Valpo loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and received an RBI groundout from Calombaris, but a strikeout ended that threat and the Crusaders would go down in order in the seventh.
Sophomore Sierra Pico (Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) took the loss for Valpo in the start, falling to 1-9 after surrendering five runs in 3.1 innings of work. Loie Kesterson improved to 7-3 for Hawai’i (13-12), going the distance in the win. Bouchard picked up two hits in the Crusaders’ tournament finale, while Marinec also reached base twice.
Valparaiso (5-18) is scheduled to return to action on Wednesday, March 19 at the Valparaiso University Softball Field with a single game against Western Michigan. ValpoAthletics.com will have all the schedule updates as the Crusaders attempt to open the home slate.