The Valparaiso University softball team kicked off the 2017 season on a winning note Friday at the Aggie Invitational in Greensboro, N.C., taking down host North Carolina A&T by a 3-0 final behind a one-hit effort in the circle from juniors Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) and Mackenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]). Senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) connected on her fourth career home run in the seventh inning as well.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders threatened immediately in the top of the first, as senior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) led off the game with a single and stole second before getting caught stealing third. Later in the frame, Valpo loaded the bases with two outs, but could not scratch across the opening run.
- The Aggies’ top scoring chance early on came in the bottom of the second, when they moved a runner to third with two out, but Montgomery induced a groundout to keep the game scoreless – the first of 10 consecutive outs from the junior to close her stint in the circle.
- Following its threat in the first, Valpo was unable to get a runner past second base again until the sixth inning, but took full advantage of that late threat. Freshman Hannah Dybalski (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) led off the inning with a triple, and senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) followed by being hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners.
- The Crusaders then pulled off a successful double steal, as Dybalski crossed home plate with the game’s first run and Stewart made it all the way around to third base. The senior came home on a sacrifice fly from sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) to make it 2-0 Valpo.
- Grossmann entered in the circle in the bottom of the sixth and faced adversity almost immediately, as she hit the first batter she faced and threw a pair of wild pitches to put the runner on third with one out. But the junior set down the next two batters she faced on strikes to keep the two-run lead.
- Calombaris added some insurance on the very first pitch of the seventh inning, connecting to straightaway center field to push the lead to 3-0. For the senior, it was her first home run since Apr. 12, 2015 and the fourth of her career.
- Grossmann set down the side in order on strikes in the bottom of the seventh to complete the shutout.
Inside the Game
- Montgomery earned the win for Valpo with her five innings of one-hit shutout ball. It was the first time in her career she had a scoreless outing as the Crusaders’ starting pitcher, while she also easily bested her mark for fewest hits surrendered in a start (four).
- Grossmann made quite the impression in her Crusader debut, picking up all six outs she registered via the strikeout as she earned the save.
- Valpo was limited to just three hits – base knocks from Calombaris, Lawson and Dybalski – by North Carolina A&T starter Mohagony Headen. The Crusaders were able to take advantage of wildness however, drawing seven walks and tallying three hit by pitches. Stewart earned a pair of walks and took one of the HBPs.
- The Crusaders earned the win Friday despite going 0-for-7 at the plate with runners in scoring position.
The Crusaders (1-0) continue action from Greensboro on Saturday with two more games, taking on UMBC at 10 a.m. CT before facing the host Aggies again at 2 p.m. CT.