Senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) homered in back-to-back at-bats in the Valparaiso University softball team’s opener at Detroit Mercy on Saturday, including a second-inning grand slam, as the Crusaders downed the Titans, 10-5. Valpo was unable to complete the series sweep, falling 4-2 to Detroit Mercy in the series finale.
How It Happened – Game One
- Stewart got the Crusaders on the board in their first turn at bat, sending a solo shot the other way to right field.
- Valpo added to its lead in the second inning, starting with a sacrifice fly from sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) to score junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland).
- Freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) did the work herself on the basepath to come home, stealing both second and third before scampering home on a wild pitch.
- Later in the frame, Stewart stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded and unleashed another blast the other way to right field, this time for a grand slam which pushed the advantage out to 7-0.
- With the Crusaders threatening to win via run rule, the Titans would crawl back into the game. Detroit Mercy plated a single run in the bottom of the second and scored two in the fourth.
- A two-run double from Ellie Boteler in the fifth brought the Titans back within 7-5, and they had the potential tying runs in scoring position with just one out. But freshman Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) entered in the circle and induced a popped-up bunt before getting a flyout to escape the game.
- The Crusaders made Detroit Mercy pay for intentionally walking Stewart in the sixth, as after the free pass moved senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) up to second with two out, junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) delivered a run-scoring single to push the lead to 8-5.
- Magnifico and Lawton led off the seventh with a single and a double, respectively, and both eventually came around to score to close out the victory.
How It Happened – Game Two
- Detroit Mercy jumped on the Crusaders immediately, scoring two in the first and two in the second.
- Valpo sliced the deficit in half in the top of the third, as Calombaris drove a run-scoring double which scored freshman Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) and sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) came home on a wild pitch. But with runners on the corners and two out, a groundout ended the Crusaders’ threat.
- Still trailing 4-2, Valpo’s best chance at completing the comeback came in the seventh inning, as the Crusaders loaded the bases with two outs on a single and two walks. But with the potential tying run in scoring position, a pop-up finished out the game as the Crusaders couldn’t close out the series sweep.
Inside the Games
- Stewart’s grand slam in the second inning of the opener was her third bases-loaded home run of the year.
- Stewart’s pair of homers in the opener give her 13 round-trippers on the season, just one shy of the Crusaders’ single-season record. She now has 27 career homers, third-most in program history and three out of second position.
- Stewart has also driven in 43 runs on the year, fifth-most in a single season in program history.
- Stewart reached in all four of her plate appearances in game one, courtesy of two intentional walks in addition to the two home runs.
- Calombaris and Magnifico each picked up a pair of hits in the victory and scored two runs apiece as well.
- Magnifico entered the day with just two stolen bases in her career, but swiped three bases in the opener.
- Grossmann picked up the game one victory with 4.1 innings of work in the start, improving to 17-7 on the year. With 17 wins this year, she is now tied for fourth-most in a single season in program history.
- Grossmann has now recorded the win in nine of the Crusaders’ 11 Horizon League victories.
- Zdroik earned the save with 2.2 innings of shutout softball, squelching the Titans’ threat in the fifth before pitching around a single baserunner in each of the last two innings. The save was the freshman’s third of the year.
- Stewart reached base three times in the nightcap via walk, while Trepanier recorded a hit and walked once as well.
- Junior Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) took the loss, falling to 5-6 on the season.
- Freshman Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) pitched five shutout innings out of the bullpen in the series finale, surrendering just two hits.
- By taking two of three games from the Titans, the Crusaders have now won five of their first six Horizon League series this year. The five series wins matches the 2008 team for the second-most series wins in Horizon League play in a single season, while only the 2012 squad (six series wins) has won more.
The Crusaders (24-16, 11-7 Horizon) step out of league play for the final time in the regular season Wednesday afternoon as they travel to Northern Illinois for a 2 p.m. doubleheader. Links for live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.