There would be no late-game heroics necessary for the Valparaiso University softball team on Saturday afternoon, as after waiting out a pre-game rain delay, the Crusaders jumped on top of Cleveland State with three first-inning runs and never looked back in an eventual 5-0 victory over the Vikings to complete the series sweep.
How It Happened
- Sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) set the tone immediately, lining the first pitch of the game through the right side for a leadoff single. Trepanier then stole second and moved up to third on a double by sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]).
- Senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) followed by dropping a run-scoring single into left field to give the Crusaders the lead just four batters into the game.
- Two batters later, junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) turned on a pitch and lined a double to the wall in left to score both Lawton and Stewart, pushing Valpo’s advantage to 3-0 after just one time at bat.
- Cleveland State threatened to cut into the advantage in the bottom of the second, loading the bases with one out on three singles – two of which didn’t leave the infield. But junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) got a pair of groundouts to escape the jam, including a dribbler in front of the circle which she deftly charged and flipped to Stewart at the plate to force the lead runner.
- Valpo added to its lead with a single run in the third, as Stewart led off the inning with her second hit of the game and eventually scored on a CSU error. The senior made it a three-hit game in the seventh, launching a leadoff homer for the second straight contest.
- Meanwhile, Grossmann and the Crusader defense kept the Vikings off the board. Starting with the second inning, 13 straight CSU hitters were retired before back-to-back two-out singles in the sixth. Grossmann got out of that inning with a strikeout to keep the shutout alive, and then pitched around a leadoff single in the seventh to close out the win.
Inside the Game
- The Crusaders earned their first three-game sweep of the season, as they entered Saturday’s game having won the first two games of a Horizon League series for the first time in 2017.
- It was Valpo’s first three-game sweep in league play since going 3-0 against Youngstown State in the final series of the 2015 campaign.
- Grossmann recorded her second complete-game shutout of the year to improve to 15-7, scattering six hits while striking out four CSU hitters.
- All six hits the Vikings recorded on Saturday were singles, as the Crusader pitching staff limited CSU to just one extra-base hit – a double – over the three-game sweep.
- Grossmann moved up to seventh position on Valpo’s single-season wins list with her 15th victory, just two wins out of fourth position.
- Grossmann was the winning pitcher in all three victories against the Vikings, becoming the first Crusader pitcher to win all three games in a series since Valpo joined the Horizon League.
- The last Crusader pitcher to pick up three wins in any length series came back in 2004, when Amanda Gilbertson registered three of Valpo’s four wins in a Mid-Continent Conference series against UMKC.
- Stewart led the way for the Valpo offense with her second three-hit game of the year. The senior’s home run was her 11th of the year and 25th of her career – both of which are tied for third in program history on their respective charts.
- With her pair of RBIs, Stewart now has driven in 38 runs this year – tenth-most in a single season in program history.
- Lawton registered two doubles in Saturday’s victory and now has 12 hits in Horizon League play this year, nine of which are of the extra-base variety.
- Rain started pouring down about 15 minutes before Saturday’s scheduled first pitch and lasted for about 35 minutes. First pitch was delayed 43 minutes from the scheduled noon start.
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“The brief rain delay didn’t affect the team. We are no strangers to weather, and getting to simply sit or dance in the dugout, instead of having to pull the tarp on and off, feels like vacation in those moments. So we listened to music, played some frisbee to warm back up, got back into the right frame of mind, and used the extra 30 minutes to keep us loose and ready to go out of the gate.”
“Kenzie did a good job building her zone early on in each game, and then finding ways to get their hitters to swing at her pitches as the game went on. She never let the count or situation dictate her best pitch and continued to deliver with confidence. She competed.”
“I’m proud of the team for responding to the losses against UIC by turning those results on their head and getting our first league sweep of the season. I think we played good enough ball this weekend to earn the sweep, but I also know we still haven’t shown our best against a league opponent. We took a step in the right direction this weekend, though, and we’ll use our midweek doubleheader to work on a few things to get us ready to play better against Detroit.”
The Crusaders (22-13, 9-6 Horizon) step out of league play briefly next week for a non-league doubleheader versus Central Michigan at the Valpo Softball Complex on Tuesday afternoon. First pitch of game one is slated for 2 p.m., and links for live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.