It wasn’t for the faint of heart, but the Valparaiso University softball team came out of its Horizon League opener at Northern Kentucky on Friday victorious, as the Crusaders scored five times in the seventh inning to overcome a 3-2 deficit and eventually earn a 7-4 victory.
How It Happened
- Entering the top of the seventh trailing by one run, junior Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) reached to lead off the inning. Pinch-runner Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) then moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt before taking third on a wild pitch.
- Following a walk to junior Brenna Boyle (St. John, Ind./Andrean), junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) dropped a single into shallow right-center field to bring home Moreno and tie the game at 3-3.
- A walk loaded the bases before a fielder’s choice forced the lead runner at the plate for the second out. But Calombaris came up with the big blow, lining a bases-clearing double to the left-center gap to score all three runners and give Valpo a 6-3 lead.
- Senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) delivered an insurance run as well, bringing home Calombaris with a single through the left side. NKU would slice one run off the Crusader lead with back-to-back two-out doubles in the bottom of the seventh, but junior Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) recorded a strikeout to close out the win.
- The home run ball accounted for the majority of the scoring leading up to the seventh inning, as the teams combined for three solo shots in a span of three half-innings. Calombaris got things started with a shot to left-center to open the scoring in the top of the fourth.
- NKU’s Dani Devlin evened the score with a one-out solo homer in the bottom of the fourth, but the Crusaders reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth, as Callaghan took a 3-0 pitch deep over the left-field wall.
- The Norse tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of Crusader defensive miscues, and then took the lead with a single run in the bottom of the sixth to set up Valpo’s seventh-inning heroics.
Inside the Game
- Entering the seventh inning trailing on the scoreboard has traditionally been a tough row to hoe for the Crusader program, as entering last Saturday, Valpo was just 10-308 dating back to 1999 when trailing through six innings. But the Crusaders have now won their last two such games, beating South Dakota last Saturday prior to Friday’s win.
- Calombaris posted the second-best mark of her career with her four RBIs in the win over the Norse. Her fourth-inning home run was her second of the season and fifth of her career.
- Callaghan’s fifth-inning round-tripper was her third of the season and gives her seven career long balls.
- Callaghan, Calombaris, Stewart and junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) each picked up two hits in Friday’s win.
- Montgomery earned the victory in the circle to improve to 5-2 on the year, pitching six innings total in the starting assignment and giving up just two earned runs. The junior was relieved by junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) in the fifth inning, and then re-entered in the sixth inning.
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“Jorgi was really the leader that we needed today – she came out with the mindset that she was ready to attack her final season of league play, got us going with her home run in her second at-bat, and then came through when we needed her to in the final inning.”
The Crusaders (13-7, 1-0 Horizon) conclude the three-game set against the Norse with a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. CT. Live stats for both games will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.