As it has done so often this season, the Valparaiso University softball team rallied in the seventh inning to force extra innings in its nightcap with Oakland Friday from the Valpo Softball Complex, but in the end, the Crusaders couldn’t close out the comeback, as the Golden Grizzlies scored in the 11th inning for a 4-3 final. Oakland took both of Friday’s games, claiming the opener by a score of 9-2.
How It Happened – Game One
- After a scoreless first three frames, Oakland scored two in the top of the fourth on a single and subsequent Crusader error.
- Valpo cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fifth, as freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) launched a no-doubt solo homer over the scoreboard in left-center.
- An error proved costly for the Crusaders in the sixth as well, when following a miscue, Danielle Szajna connected on a two-run homer to extend the Golden Grizzlies’ lead to 4-1.
- Sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) delivered a run-scoring triple in the bottom of the sixth to plate junior Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) and make it a 4-2 game.
- But Oakland put the game away in the top of the seventh, scoring five runs on six hits and a Crusader error to close the scoring.
How It Happened – Game Two
- Trailing by two runs entering the bottom of the seventh, freshman Addison Pixley (Osceola, Ind./Penn) led off the inning with a pinch-hit single and Trepanier laced a double to left to put two in scoring position with nobody out.
- Three batters later, with the bases loaded and one away, senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) battled for 13 pitches, fouling off nine offerings, before working a walk to force in a run and cut the lead to 3-2.
- Junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) followed with a deep fly ball in foul territory down the left field line, more than enough to allow Trepanier to tag up and score on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3.
- It looked like junior Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) might give the Crusaders the walk-off win right then and there with a soft grounder on the infield, but she was ruled out at first as the game went to extras.
- Both teams had opportunities to score before the decisive 11th inning. Oakland had a runner on third with two outs in the eighth, but freshman Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) recorded a big strikeout to keep the Golden Grizzlies off the board. Oakland also had two on with two outs in the ninth, but could not convert.
- Callaghan was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the 10th and moved up 60 feet apiece on a pair of bunts, but a groundout sent the game to the 11th inning.
- Mikayela Marciniak led off the top of the 11th with a double and came around to score the game-winning run on a two-bagger from Kelsie Swanson. Magnifico kept hope alive in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out double, but a strikeout closed out the nightcap in the Golden Grizzlies’ favor.
- Oakland opened the scoring on a first-inning solo homer from Marciniak, and added a single run in the fourth. The Crusaders got on the board in the bottom of the fourth, as Calombaris led off the inning with a single and came around to score on a well-executed squeeze bunt by junior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara).
- The Golden Grizzlies added to their lead courtesy of a Valpo error in the top of the seventh, setting up the two-run comeback to force extras.
Inside the Games
- The pair of losses dropped Valpo into sixth place in the league standings, but the Crusaders are still just 1.5 games out of second place with four games remaining.
- This will be just the second Horizon League series this season the Crusaders have lost.
- Valpo entered the day with just 40 errors through 42 games this season and only 19 miscues in 18 league games, but committed six errors over the two losses.
- Calombaris picked up a pair of hits in the opener, while senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
- Junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) took the loss in the opener, falling to 17-9 despite surrendering just one earned run in four innings of work.
- Calombaris also delivered a pair of hits in the nightcap and was joined by Trepanier in a two-hit effort.
- Richardson had a strong relief outing before taking the loss in the day’s second game, tossing the final 7.1 innings and giving up just two runs – one earned – while striking out eight.
- Erin Kownacki earned both wins for Oakland, throwing a complete game in the opener before entering for four innings of relief in the nightcap.
- The Crusaders left 23 runners on base over the two losses on Friday and were just 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position.
Valparaiso (24-20, 11-9 Horizon) and Oakland are slated to finish out the series on Saturday with a noon first pitch. With potential inclement weather, scheduling updates will be provided at ValpoAthletics.com and on athletics and softball social media.