The Valparaiso University softball team dropped both ends of a Horizon League doubleheader against league-leading UIC Wednesday afternoon at the Valpo Softball Complex, falling 5-0 in the opener and 3-2 in nine innings in the nightcap.
How It Happened – Game One
- UIC jumped on top with three runs before the Crusaders came to bat in the first. Tiana Mack-Miller hit a solo homer for the Flames, and then after a dropped fly ball by Valpo extended the inning, Savannah Soppet connected on a two-run triple.
- Soppet also delivered for the Flames in the third inning, driving in a pair of runners in scoring position with a base hit to extend the UIC lead to 5-0.
- Valpo went down in order in just two of its seven turns at bat, but was never able to advance a runner to third base in the opener.
- Junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) doubled with two outs in the fourth, while a single from freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) put two on with two outs in the fifth, but the Crusaders weren’t able to take advantage of either chance.
How It Happened – Game Two
- UIC opened the scoring in the third, as Lexi Watts led off the inning with a bunt single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.
- It looked like the Flames would add to their lead in the fifth, as UIC loaded the bases on a trio of walks, but freshman Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) entered in relief and induced a groundout to keep it a 1-0 game.
- After being unable to advance a runner into scoring position in the first five innings, the Crusaders finally struck in the sixth. Senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and Callaghan drew back-to-back two-out walks. After UIC brought in Elaine Heflin in relief, sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) greeted her with a two-run triple to right-center, giving Valpo the 2-1 lead.
- The Flames tied the game in the top of the seventh, as Watts led off the frame with a double and came around to score thanks to a sacrifice fly for the second time in the game.
- Both squads had a base hit in the eighth go for naught. UIC scored the game-winning run in the top of the ninth via a Crusader error and Valpo went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
Inside the Games
- Valpo’s loss in the series finale was just the second extra-inning game this season.
- The sweep in Horizon League play was the first for the Crusaders since dropping all three games last year at UIC. Valpo would go on to defeat the Flames last season in the Horizon League Championship en route to claiming the tournament title.
- Valpo was limited to just seven hits over the course of Wednesday’s doubleheader. No Crusader enjoyed a multi-hit game in either contest, but sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) and senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) each registered a base hit in both ends of the twinbill.
- Karissa Frazier earned the complete-game win for UIC in the opener, improving to 8-6 on the year, while Heflin picked up the relief win in the nightcap to move to 9-7. Allie Trudeau surrendered just one hit in 5.2 innings of work as the starter in the series finale.
- Valpo batters struck out just twice in the day’s opener facing Frazier, but combined to go down on strikes 16 times versus the combination of Trudeau and Heflin in the nightcap.
- Junior Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) took the loss for Valpo in the opener, throwing 2.2 innings and allowing all five runs as she fell to 5-5. Junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) started the second game and eventually re-entered in the circle, picking up the loss to move to 12-7on the year. Grossmann went 6.2 innings total and surrendered just one earned run.
- Freshman Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) tossed 4.2 innings of two-hit shutout ball in the opener in relief. The combination of Richardson and fellow freshman Zdroik in the circle combined to give up just one run in 9.1 innings of work in the series.
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“We need to be able to close out a game – we have consistently struggled to close out games. Today, we put ourselves in the position in the seventh inning to win the second game, and once again were not able to close it out.”
“We have to be better defensively than we were in this series – not just counting errors, but other plays we should expect to make. We can’t allow a player like Watts, who wasn’t able to do much swinging the bat during the series, to just drop down a bunt a few feet in front of the plate and reach – we have to cover those situations better.”
“We won’t let these three losses in this series define us, just like we didn’t let our five straight wins to start the season define us. We won’t hang our hats on either the high points or the low points of the season, but will just keep going out and playing game in, game out.”
“There’s a lot of season left, and while at this point we don’t control our destiny with the regular season title, we still can control where we’ll finish in the standings. All credit to UIC – I think they’ve earned the top spot in the league to this point in the season; they played well this week and handled our very productive offense. We certainly learned a lot this week, and will continue to build on what we learned moving forward over the remaining month in the regular season.”
The Crusaders (19-13, 6-6 Horizon) have a quick turnaround to another Horizon League series, as they will hit the road for a three-game set at Cleveland State this weekend. The schedule for the series has been amended due to weather concerns, and will open with a noon CT doubleheader on Friday afternoon. Links for the live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.