The Valparaiso University softball team is 5-0 for the first time in program history as the Crusaders opened the Purple/Gold Challenge in Nashville, Tenn. on Friday with a 4-1 victory over Stony Brook. Senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) continued her hot start to the season at the plate, while sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) tied a program single-game record in the field.
How It Happened
- Both teams got a runner into scoring position in the first inning, but neither pushed a run across.
- A leadoff double for Stony Brook in the third threatened to open the scoring, but junior Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) registered a strikeout and induced a pair of groundouts to keep the Seawolves off the board.
- Valpo would open the scoring in the bottom half of the third inning. Back-to-back errors and a walk loaded the bases with one out, and two batters later, Stewart delivered an RBI single to score classmate Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
- Valpo’s initial lead was short-lived, however, as Stony Brook responded with a two-out run-scoring single in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 1-1.
- The Crusaders claimed the lead for good in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) opened the turn at-bat with a double, and with two outs, Stewart connected on a two-bagger of her own to right-center to plate Trepanier, making it 2-1 Valpo.
- A two-out rally in the sixth inning gave Valpo a pair of insurance runs. Back-to-back singles by freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) and Calombaris put two on with two out, and then consecutive wild pitches scored Magnifico and moved Calombaris to third.
- Valpo added its final run as Trepanier drew a walk to put runners on the corners, and the Crusaders pulled off a double steal to score Calombaris and push the lead to 4-1.
- Stony Brook looked to rally in the seventh, as after the first two batters made outs, the Seawolves sandwiched a pair of singles around a walk to load the bases. Junior Mackenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) entered in the circle and induced a ground ball to short to close the victory.
Inside the Game
- Valpo had previously started 4-0 on three other occasions – most recently in 2002 – but each of those times, the Crusaders dropped their fifth game of the season.
- The Crusaders’ five-game winning streak is its longest since winning five straight games March 29-April 5 last season.
- Valpo remained one of just five unbeaten teams in the nation (among programs which have opened their seasons).
- Stewart ended the win 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and two runs driven in. The senior has now picked up multiple hits in each of the last four games and has driven in nine runs through the season’s first five games.
- Trepanier also went 2-for-3 out of the leadoff spot for the Crusaders, while Calombaris scored a pair of runs.
- Montgomery earned the win in the circle to improve to 3-0 on the year, surrendering just one run – her first earned tally given up this year – in 6.2 innings of work. The junior also set a new career high by striking out seven Stony Brook batters.
- Grossmann picked up her third save in just five games as a Crusader by coming in and registering the final out. Her three saves already rank seventh in a single season in program history, as well as sixth on Valpo’s career chart.
- When Montgomery wasn’t striking batters out, she was getting ground balls to shortstop and Lawton was making plays. The sophomore registered nine assists without committing an error in the field in Friday’s win – tying Valpo’s single-game record for assists, held by two others (single-game records only date back to 1999).
- Valpo has not trailed in any of its five wins this year. The Crusaders did trail in the contest against Appalachian State which was eventually ruled No Game.
The Crusaders (5-0) look to extend their unbeaten start with a pair of games on Saturday. Valpo will face host Lipscomb at 12:30 p.m. before taking on Eastern Illinois at 5:30 p.m. Live stats for both games will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.