Once the rain finally cleared up Tuesday afternoon, the Valparaiso University softball team was able to get in a Horizon League doubleheader with Green Bay at the Valpo Softball Complex – a series which was originally scheduled to be played in Green Bay. The Phoenix walked off with a 4-3 win in the opener, but the Crusaders rebounded with an offensive outburst in the nightcap for a 13-2 victory and a doubleheader split.
How It Happened – Game One
- Valpo looked to score immediately to open the game, as the Crusaders were batting as the visiting team since the series was originally slated to be played in Green Bay. Sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) led off the game with a walk and moved over to third with one out, but was doubled up on a hard line drive to keep Valpo off the board.
- The Phoenix struck first just two batters in, Abby Brinkmeier connected on a two-run homer to give the Phoenix an early 2-0 lead.
- The Crusaders erased half of the deficit right away in the top of the second, as sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley] launched a full-count pitch down the left-field line for a solo homer, her fifth of the season.
- Neither team would even get a runner to third base again until the sixth inning, when senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) evened the game with one swing of the bat. Calombaris drove a 2-2 offering over the fence in left – her third homer of the year – to tie the game at 2-2.
- Green Bay re-claimed the lead with a two-out run-scoring double in the bottom of the sixth.
- The Crusaders took advantage of wildness from Green Bay reliever Sinead Korvela in the top of the seventh, as back-to-back Valpo batters walked to lead off the frame. Following a sacrifice bunt, junior Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) dropped a pinch-hit RBI single into right-center to make it a 3-3 game. With runners on the corners and one away, Valpo had an opportunity to take the lead, but a fly ball double play ended the threat.
- But the Phoenix earned the walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh, as with a runner on second and two out, Brinkmeier dropped down a perfect bunt and reached safely on a single. Meanwhile, baserunner Bailey Schultz never stopped running, going for home, and the throw home was high and wide as Schultz scored the game-winning tally.
How It Happened – Game Two
- Valpo wasted little time taking the lead against Green Bay starter Katie Rossmann, who had stymied the lineup in the opener. Calombaris doubled with one out and senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) drew a four-pitch walk behind her.
- Junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) drove a run-scoring double to the left-center gap to plate Calombaris to open the scoring. Then, the Green Bay shortstop’s throw to second in an attempt to catch Stauffenberg was wide and rolled down the right-field line, allowing Stewart to score easily and Stauffenberg to come all the way around with the proverbial Little League home run, giving Valpo a 3-0 lead.
- The Crusaders added another run in the second, as freshman Addison Pixley (Osceola, Ind./Penn) singled to open the frame and pinch-runner Hannah Dybalski (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) eventually scored as Trepanier turned on a pitch and doubled down the right-field line. The lead was extended to 5-0 in the fourth when junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) drew a bases-loaded walk.
- Valpo then exploded for an eight-run fifth inning to secure the victory. Pixley, Trepanier and Calombaris all singled to load the bases with one out, and Stewart delivered a moonshot of a grand slam on a 3-0 pitch – her team-best ninth round-tripper of the year – to push the lead to 9-0.
- Stauffenberg followed with a line drive off the Green Bay pitcher, and Lawton worked a walk to put two on for Callaghan. The junior came through, driving a 1-0 pitch to straightaway center field, where the ball bounded off the top of the wall and gone for a three-run shot.
- The Crusaders added one more run later in the inning, as junior Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) reached with a double and eventually scored on a Green Bay error.
- After surrendering just a single hit through the first four innings, junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) was touched for three hits and two unearned runs in the fifth. But the junior induced a soft line-out to short to close out the run-rule win.
Inside the Games
- First pitch of the opener came at 2:06 p.m., 66 minutes after the originally scheduled start time of 1 p.m.
- The Crusaders’ 13 runs in the nightcap matched a season high in the runs column, while their 17 hits was the best single-game total of the season and tied for fifth-most in a single game dating back to 1999.
- Grossmann earned the win to improve to 11-5 on the year, surrendering just the two unearned runs in the complete-game effort. The junior has picked up the victory in each of her last four starting assignments.
- Leading the hit attack in the nightcap were Calombaris and Stauffenberg, both of whom ended the win 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Calombaris also went 1-for-2 with her solo homer in the opener to end the day 4-for-6 with three runs scored.
- Two Crusaders reached in each of their plate appearances in the nightcap. Stewart went 2-for-2 with two walks, three runs scored and four RBIs, and also reached twice in the opener as she finished that game 1-for-2 with a walk. The senior extended her program-record on-base streak to 28 straight games.
- Stewart’s home run in the fifth inning of the nightcap was her ninth of the season, tied for sixth-most in a single season in program history. The senior now owns 23 career home runs – fifth-most all time at Valpo – and has driven in 99 runs, just one shy of becoming the sixth player in program history to reach the century mark in RBIs.
- Lawton also reached in all four of her plate appearances in the Crusaders’ win, going 1-for-1 with three walks. The sophomore failed to reach base just once over the course of the doubleheader, finishing the day 2-for-3 with four walks and a pair of runs scored.
- Callaghan, Pixley and Trepanier all joined Stewart, Calombaris and Stauffenberg with multi-hit games in the Valpo rout in the nightcap, as each added a pair of hits. Callaghan also drew a walk to reach in three of four plate appearances and matched a career high with four RBIs.
- Junior Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) started the opener, but threw just two-plus innings before being relieved by freshman Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward). Zdroik ended up throwing 4.2 solid innings out of the bullpen, but eventually was charged with the loss to drop to 1-1 on the year.
- The Crusaders were limited to just four hits as a team in the opener before exploding with their season-high output in the nightcap.
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“Give credit to Green Bay – they came out of the gate strong today, hit the ball well and put us on our heels a bit right away.”
“Looking back, I think that there were some coaching decisions that we made in the first game that were not necessarily the best choices. Some of the decisions put us in tough spots, and we might have done things differently given the chance to do so again.”
“There were some adjustments our hitters needed to make to adjust to Rossmann in their timing and their mechanics that we weren’t able to figure out during the first game. Our hitters really did a good job putting their struggles from the first game behind them, making the adjustments and coming out strong right away in game two.”
“I felt like we really built off each other’s success at the plate in the second game, and maintained momentum offensively throughout the game. Kenzie really threw a very good game for us, and I thought Lanie did well defensively in center field, playing a position where she’s never even practiced.”
“We talked about the need to do a better job shutting the door after the second game. Whether we’re up 13 runs or one run, we need to play a better defensive final inning than we did in that game.”
The Crusaders (18-10, 5-3 Horizon) are scheduled to close out the series with the Phoenix on Wednesday at noon from the Valpo Softball Complex. With inclement weather in the forecast, fans are encouraged to follow Valpo Athletics and Valpo Softball social media accounts for any updates regarding the rubber game.