The Valparaiso University softball team faced extra innings for the first time this season in its final tune-up for Horizon League play, but were unable to come out victorious, falling 4-3 in Chicago to Loyola on Tuesday afternoon.
How It Happened
- Valpo opened the scoring on Tuesday in the top of the second inning. Junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) reached to lead off when two Loyola fielders ran into each other, and moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) followed with a double to the fence in left-center, scoring Stauffenberg to make it 1-0 Valpo.
- Loyola responded immediately in its half of the second, as after the first two batters reached, Shannon McGee connected for a three-run homer. After a subsequent walk, freshman Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) entered out of the bullpen and retired the next three Loyola hitters in order to limit the damage.
- The Crusaders then tied the game in their next at-bat. Freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) led off the inning with a hard-hit single and moved up to second on a sacrifice. Senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) recorded an infield single on a slow roller to the left side, a ball in play which turned into a run when the third baseman’s throw to first was wild, allowing Magnifico to score.
- Senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) followed with a single the other way, and after a wild pitch, Stauffenberg dropped a run-scoring single into shallow left to tie the game at 3-3.
- The game would remain tied at 3-3 into extra innings, as neither squad would score for the remainder of regulation. Valpo threatened with a runner on second and one away in the fourth, and runners on second and third with two down in the fifth, but could not score either time.
- Meanwhile, the Crusaders’ defense behind Richardson, and later junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]), helped keep the Ramblers at three runs. Valpo turned a 6-4-3 double play – its 11th twin-killing of the season – in the fourth, and then freshman Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) laid out for a diving catch in the gap to end the fifth.
- After a leadoff walk in the sixth, Grossmann entered in the circle. A sacrifice and a single would make it runners on the corners with one away for Loyola before the junior hurler came up with a big strikeout. A grounder up the middle looked destined to get through and give the Ramblers the lead, but Lawton dove to her left to corral it and then flipped it with her glove to Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) covering second for the force to end the frame.
- Matalin singled with two outs in the eighth to give the Crusaders a runner on in extra innings, but was left stranded on first. Then, in the bottom of the inning, a double, hit by pitch and walk loaded the bases with one out, and Kristin Lea recorded the pinch-hit, walk-off single for the Ramblers.
Inside the Game
- The meeting was the first in spring play between the Crusaders and Ramblers since Loyola’s last season in the Horizon League in 2013.
- Tuesday’s loss was Valpo’s first of the year (10-1) when out-hitting its opponent – the Crusaders out-hit Loyola, 7-6.
- Matalin was the lone Crusader to pick up multiple hits on Tuesday, as she finished the day 2-for-4 – her second multi-hit game of the year. Magnifico also reached base twice with a hit and a walk.
- Stewart’s base hit extended her on-base streak to 19 consecutive games.
- Richardson enjoyed the best performance of her young career in the circle, throwing four shutout innings in relief while giving up just one hit.
- Grossmann took the loss, falling to 7-5 on the year as she surrendered the one run in 2.1 innings of work.
The Crusaders (12-7) open up Horizon League play this weekend on the road at Northern Kentucky, starting with a single game scheduled for Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. CT. Links for live coverage all weekend will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.