The Valparaiso University softball team took to the field for its final non-league action of the regular season Wednesday afternoon in DeKalb, Ill. as the Crusaders visited Northern Illinois. But despite scoring first in both games, Valpo was unable to come away with a victory, as the Huskies rallied for a 7-4 win in the opener and a 5-2 win in the nightcap.
How It Happened – Game One
- Valpo struck immediately in the top of the first, as sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) led off the game with an infield single and came around to score on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt for a base hit by junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland).
- Later in the frame, with the bases loaded, freshman Hannah Dybalski (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) lined a run-scoring single into center field, and sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) followed with a first-pitch double to the gap in right-center to make it 4-0 Crusaders quickly.
- NIU would turn around and cut the Valpo advantage to a single run in its first turn at the plate, courtesy of a two-run homer from Kayti Grable and a solo homer by Abby Howlett.
- The Huskies went ahead for good on a two-run double from Jenny Van Geertry in the bottom of the fourth, starting off a four-run frame which would close the scoring.
- Staring at a three-run deficit, the Crusaders were able to come up with just one baserunner – a one-out bunt single from Lawton in the sixth – over the final three innings.
How It Happened – Game Two
- The Crusaders made NIU starter Keegan Hayes labor in the top of the first to the tune of 46 pitches, pushing across a pair of runs. Trepanier and senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) led off the game with a single and a double, respectively.
- Then, with the bases loaded and one out, Lawton drew a four-pitch walk to force in the first run of the game. Junior Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) followed with a run-scoring groundout to give Valpo the early 2-0 edge.
- While Valpo had at least one runner on base in five of the final six innings, the Crusaders were unable to add to their run total, as they left nine runners stranded on base for the game.
- Meanwhile, NIU scored a single run in the bottom of the first to cut the lead in half, and then claimed the advantage by scoring two runs in the second without a ball leaving the infield. Single runs in the fourth and the sixth closed out the scoring.
Inside the Games
- Trepanier and Lawton each picked up a pair of base hits in the opener, while the latter drove in two of Valpo’s four runs as well.
- Freshman Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) took the loss in the day’s first game to fall to 1-3 on the year.
- Fellow rookie Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) closed out the opener in the circle, tossing 2.2 innings of shutout softball while striking out three.
- Trepanier followed up her two-hit opener by reaching base in all four of her plate appearances in the nightcap, tallying a pair of singles and drawing two walks. But the sophomore was the only Crusader to reach more than once in the day’s second game.
- Valpo went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in game two after going 3-for-8 in the same situations in the opener.
- Junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) fell to 17-8 on the season as she was tagged with the loss in the starting assignment.
The Crusaders (24-18) close out the regular season with two remaining Horizon League series, starting with a three-game set versus Oakland at the Valpo Softball Complex this weekend. Due to weather concerns, game times have been shifted, and the series will now open with an 11 a.m. doubleheader on Friday.