The Valparaiso University softball team finished up an undefeated weekend of action to open the 2017 season Sunday from the Aggie Invitational in Greensboro, N.C., defeating Howard by an 11-4 final. The Crusaders took on Appalachian State following their win over the Bison, but the meeting was declared No Game after being called in the middle of the fifth inning due to a drop-dead time.
How It Happened – Howard
- Valpo struck immediately against the Bison, sending eight batters to the plate in the top of the first and scoring four runs. With the bases loaded and two outs, junior Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) drew a walk to force in a run.
- Fellow junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) then cleared the bases with a base hit, giving the Crusaders a 4-0 lead.
- Valpo would add to its lead in the top of the second, as senior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) dropped down a bunt single and was then caught in a rundown – a pickle which allowed senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) to score from third.
- Later in the second inning, senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) continued swinging a hot bat, as her RBI double plated junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland). Stewart then came home on a run-scoring single from sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) to make it 7-0.
- While the Crusader hitters built up the big lead, the pitching duo of junior Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) and freshman Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) combined to allow just one runner past first base through the first five innings. Howard would crack the scoreboard in the sixth, however, plating a single run.
- Valpo quickly squashed any hopes of a comeback in the top of the seventh, however. Stewart singled, Lawton drew a walk and junior Brenna Boyle (St. John, Ind./Andrean) dropped down a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out.
- Stauffenberg stepped in and delivered her second bases-clearing hit of the day, a three-run double which pushed the lead to 10-1.
- Freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) followed with an RBI single to score Stauffenberg and cap the scoring for the Crusaders. Howard added three runs in the bottom of the seventh for the final margin.
How It Happened – Appalachian State
- Valpo was in a slugfest with the Mountaineers, as Stewart connected on a three-run homer in the first inning to give the Crusaders a quick lead.
- Trailing 6-4 through four complete innings, Valpo tied the game in the top of the fifth on a two-run round-tripper by Lawton.
- However, because of the Crusaders’ scheduled flight, a drop-dead time had been established prior to first pitch, at which point the game would cease. The drop-dead time was reached in the middle of the fifth inning.
- But for a game to count, five complete innings must be played or the designated home team must be leading after the top of the fifth – since this was not the case, No Game was declared. Statistics do not count from a “No Game”.
Inside the Game
- The 4-0 start marks the fourth time in program history the Crusaders have started a season 4-0. In each of the previous three instances (1986, 2000, 2002), Valpo ended up dropping its fifth game of the season.
- For the weekend, Valpo’s pitchers posted a 2.00 ERA and allowed the opponents to hit just .219, while the Crusader hitters averaged 6.5 runs per game and hit .324.
- Stauffenberg entered Sunday having never driven in more than one run in a game and with just six career RBIs to her credit, but the junior matched that total in the win over the Bison. Stauffenberg ended the game 3-for-4 – her second three-hit game – with the six RBIs.
- Lawson set a new career high with four hits, as she went 4-for-5 with a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base.
- Stewart recorded her third consecutive multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored. For the weekend, the senior hit .545 and slugged at a 1.727 clip with four home runs, eight runs scored and seven RBIs.
- Callaghan reached base twice and scored two runs in her first game of the year, while Calombaris, Lawton and Boyle each reached base twice as well.
- Mongtomery closed the weekend with a spotless ERA in the circle, as she tossed three shutout innings in the start, allowing just one hit while striking out two.
- Richardson earned the victory for her first collegiate win, throwing the final four innings.
The Crusaders (4-0) will take next weekend off from action before embarking on their Spring Break trip, starting with a venture to the Purple/Gold Challenge in Nashville, Tenn. Action from Nashville will begin on Friday, Mar. 3 with a matchup against Stony Brook.