Offense was the name of the game Saturday in Highland Heights, Ky., as the Valparaiso University softball team combined for six home runs, 22 runs scored and 25 hits over a doubleheader split with Northern Kentucky. The Crusaders dropped the opener, 12-9, before rebounding with a 13-5 victory in the nightcap. Sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) led the way with three home runs over the doubleheader, while freshman pitcher Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) earned her first collegiate victory in the nightcap.
How It Happened – Game 1
- Valpo struck immediately for five runs in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) reached to lead off on an error and scored on a single by senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East. Senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) followed with a single of her own and eventually came home on an NKU error.
- Lawton then delivered the first of her three bombs on the day, a three-run shot to straightaway center field to give Valpo a 5-0 lead.
- NKU scored three in the second to cut into the Crusaders’ lead, but Valpo got them back and more in the fourth. Freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) connected for a two-run homer following a single by Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland). Trepanier then singled and stole second before a drive to the wall by Calombaris plated her to make it 8-3 Crusaders.
- NKU tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, scoring a pair of runs before a three-run homer from Ava Lawson evened things up at 8-8.
- Valpo regained the lead in its next at-bat, as a leadoff walk to Magnifico turned into a run later in the inning courtesy of an RBI single by junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara).
- The lead was short-lived, however, as the Norse tallied four runs on five hits in the bottom of the sixth for the final margin.
How It Happened – Game 2
- In a 180 from the opener, the Norse took the early lead in the nightcap. Back-to-back run-scoring doubles in the first gave NKU a pair of runs, and the Norse made it 3-0 thanks to a Valpo error in the second.
- But the Crusaders responded with the biggest crooked number on the scoreboard for either team on Saturday, posting a six-spot in the top of the third. After a bunt single from freshman Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point), Magnifico got Valpo on the board with her second homer of the day – this one flying out to left field.
- Back-to-back outs made it look like it might remain a one-run deficit, but the next five Crusader hitters would reach as Valpo batted around in the inning. Stewart lined a single into center field to start the train, and Stauffenberg followed by driving an 0-2 pitch over the center-field wall for her first career home run, giving Valpo a 4-3 lead.
- Junior Brenna Boyle (St. John, Ind./Andrean) drew a walk and scored on the next batter thanks to a dropped fly ball by NKU’s right fielder. The Crusaders took advantage of the inning-extending miscue, as Callaghan drilled the first pitch she saw into center for an RBI double to cap the six-run frame.
- A solo homer for the Norse cut the Valpo advantage to two runs, but another crooked number was in the cards for the Crusaders in the fourth. The bases were loaded with two outs courtesy of two walks and a single, and Boyle lined a pitch right back up the middle to score two.
- Lawton stepped up and wasted no time adding to the Valpo lead, driving the first pitch she saw out to left-center for a three-run blast to push the lead to 11-4.
- Another solo home run for the Norse to lead off the bottom of the fifth made it an 11-5 game, but NKU would get no closer, as freshman Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) and the Crusader defense got big outs late. The Norse would strand eight runners on base over the final three innings.
- Lawton crushed her second home run of the game and third of the day to center with two outs in the sixth to add to the Valpo lead, and the Crusaders capped the scoring in the seventh. Trepanier dropped down a bunt single and would come around to score on an NKU error in conjunction with a base knock from Calombaris.
Inside the Games
- Two-out scoring proved vital to the Crusaders’ victory in the nightcap, as 10 of Valpo’s 13 runs crossed the plate with two away, as opposed to just one of nine runs in the opener.
- Calombaris (3-for-4, 2 RBI) and Stauffenberg (2-for-3, BB) both reached base three times in the opener.
- Magnifico scored twice and drove in a pair of runs, while Lawton tallied three RBIs in the loss.
- Junior Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley), who continues to work her way back from injury, recorded her first base hit of the season in the opener.
- Junior Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) took the loss in relief, falling to 5-3 on the year.
- Four Crusaders posted multi-hit games in the nightcap victory, led by Trepanier, who finished 3-for-5 – tallying hits in each of her final three at-bats – with a pair of runs scored.
- Stauffenberg, Callaghan and Lawton all picked up two hits apiece in the win. Lawton finished the game 2-for-3 with three runs scored and four RBIs, with her three home runs giving her a total of four now on the year.
- Boyle and Magnifico each registered a pair of RBIs and scored twice in the series finale. Magnifico now owns three home runs this year after going deep twice on Saturday.
- Stewart reached base twice in both games, extending her on-base streak to 22 consecutive games.
- Zdroik picked up her first collegiate win, coming out of the bullpen in the third inning and limiting NKU the rest of the way. The freshman surrendered just a single run in 4.2 innings of work.
The Crusaders (14-8, 2-1 Horizon) step out of league play for their home opener on Wednesday afternoon, as Valpo welcomes IUPUI to the Valpo Softball Complex. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m., and links for live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.