The Valparaiso University softball team put together a tremendous team effort in its biggest challenge of the 2017 season to date, facing a #9/11 Alabama squad which entered the game at 20-2 on the season. Junior pitcher Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ill./Lebanon) led the way with a tremendous effort in the circle, throwing a four-hitter against a strong Crimson Tide offense, but the Crusaders eventually fell by a 1-0 final.
How It Happened
- Alabama scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the first. Elissa Brown led off with a first-pitch single, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Crusader error. Sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) helped limit the Crimson Tide to one run, catching a looping liner and doubling an Alabama baserunner off of first.
- Alabama recorded back-to-back two-out hits in the second, but Montgomery induced a foul-out to right to keep the Crimson Tide off the board. The junior then tossed a 1-2-3 third inning, assisted by a diving catch by junior catcher Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) on a bunt attempt fouled behind home plate.
- Sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) picked up the Crusaders’ first hit as she led off the fourth with a single back through the middle. Trepanier advanced to second, but would be left on base there. Junior Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) recorded a one-out infield single in the fifth as well, but would eventually be stranded.
- Alabama got a runner to third base with two outs in both the fourth and fifth innings, but both times Montgomery and the Crusader defense were up to the challenge, as a pair of fly-ball outs kept the Crimson Tide stuck on one run.
- Senior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) led off the Valpo sixth with an infield single down the third-base line, and the Crusaders nearly took the lead with Trepanier at bat, as the sophomore launched a fly ball to the wall in right-center for a double.
- A failed squeeze attempt would result in the first out, and after a strikeout, the Crimson Tide chose to intentionally walk Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) to again put the potential go-ahead run on base. Stauffenberg sent a looping liner shallow in the outfield grass, trailing towards the right-field line, but the Alabama second baseman ran it down to end the inning.
- Freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York), moved to center field in the middle of the sixth, recorded a standout play in her first action in center in a collegiate uniform as she made a great diving catch on a fly to shallow center by Reagan Dykes.
- The Crusaders entered the seventh still trailing by just one run, but went down in order in their final turn at-bat.
Inside the Game
- The one run allowed by Valpo to Alabama marked the Crimson Tide’s second-lowest scoring output of the season, as they were shut out once earlier this year – by #18 Louisiana.
- Valpo was in search of its first win over a ranked team since a 7-5 win at #23 Maryland on Mar. 15, 2008. This was the program’s fourth one-run loss against a nationally-ranked squad since that game.
- Montgomery tossed one of her best games in a Crusader uniform, giving up just the four hits and one run to an Alabama squad which entered the night hitting .336 on the year and averaging nearly six runs per game. The tough-luck loss dropped the junior to 3-1 on the year.
- Trepanier picked up two of Valpo’s four hits on Wednesday night, extending her streak to five consecutive multi-hit games.
- The intentional walk to Stewart was the first intentional free pass that Alabama has ordered this year in its 23rd game of the season.
- Sydney Littlejohn earned the win for Alabama (21-2) with her complete-game effort, improving to 8-0 on the year as she struck out a career-best 13 batters.
The Crusaders (6-3) will stay in the Heart of Dixie this weekend, as they travel to the Leon Smith Classic, hosted by SE Missouri State in Oxford, Ala. Tournament play will open for Valpo on Friday against Belmont and SEMO.