The road to defending the Horizon League crown got a bit more challenging for the Valparaiso University softball team on Thursday, as the third-seeded Crusaders were dealt a 9-2 defeat by second-seeded Youngstown State. Valpo now has to win twice on Friday to reach Championship Saturday.
How It Happened
- For the second straight day, a long ball off the bat of freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) got the scoring going for the Crusaders. Magnifico stepped up in the top of the second with a runner on – courtesy of a one-out double from junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) – and drove a 1-1 pitch down the left-field line for a no-doubt homer to make it 2-0 Valpo.
- But the Penguins took the lead for good in the bottom of the third. The Crusaders were one out from escaping the inning without any damage, but YSU used a pair of Valpo errors, three walks, two hit batters and five base hits to score eight unearned runs and go ahead 8-2.
- YSU scored its final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, while the Crusaders were able to get just one runner into scoring position in the final four innings.
Inside the Game
- The Crusaders were facing the Penguins for the fifth time in the last three Horizon League tournaments held at UIC. Valpo went 2-1 against YSU in Chicago in 2013, getting run-ruled in the tournament opener before beating the Penguins twice on Championship Saturday, and also defeated YSU at Flames Field last season.
- Two of the Crusaders’ three Horizon League titles have come out of the loser’s bracket, but on both of those occasions, Valpo dropped its first game of the tournament.
- Valpo was limited to just three hits on Thursday, as sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) also picked up a base knock.
- Magnifico now has six home runs on the season after connecting on a round-tripper for the second straight day.
- Junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) was tagged with the loss to fall to 20-11 on the year despite not giving up an earned run in the start.
The Crusaders (28-22) will have to win twice on Friday and twice on Saturday to claim the tournament title, a road which begins with a matchup against fifth-seeded Detroit Mercy on Friday afternoon at noon. The game can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with links for the live video and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.