The Valparaiso softball team opened a long homestand Tuesday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field with its home opener, falling to Western Michigan in a single game, 5-0.
The Crusaders, playing in their latest home opener since 2005, and Broncos both struggled to get their respective offenses going early, as neither team had a hit through two and a half innings. Freshman Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) led off the bottom of the third with a single into shallow right for the game’s first base knock, and after Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) reached on a fielder’s choice, senior Amanda Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran) lined a single into right-center field to load the bases with nobody out.
But WMU pitcher Allyson Kus would not allow the Crusaders to get on the board, inducing a pair of grounders that resulted in force-outs at the plate before a third ground ball ended the frame with no runs scoring. Valpo starting pitcher Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]) got out of a bases loaded, two-out jam the very next half inning as well, as a fly-out to left kept the game scoreless.
The deciding blows would come from the Broncos in the top of the fifth. WMU leadoff hitter Melissa Palmer started the inning with a solo home run to right-center, the Broncos’ first hit of the game. Then, later in the inning, Western Michigan loaded the bases with one out on three straight singles. Valpo reliever Ashlyn Michalak (Temperance, Mich./Springfield [Owens C.C.]) got the second out as the Crusaders forced the lead runner at the plate on a grounder, but Megan Stamm would connect on a grand slam over the center-field fence. The Crusaders’ final nine batters were set down in order as they were unable to threaten the rest of the way.
Lindeman took the loss for Valpo, falling to 1-4 as she surrendered three runs on three hits in 4.1 innings of work. Michalak pitched the final 2.2 innings in relief, giving up two runs. Kus went the distance for Western Michigan (11-21) to improve to 9-11 as she gave up just two hits.
Valparaiso (7-22) turns right back around to play on Wednesday at home, hosting Eastern Michigan in a 2 p.m. doubleheader. Live stats and audio (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will be available through ValpoAthletics.com.