The Valparaiso University softball team jumped out to a lead against 2018 NCAA Tournament participant Middle Tennessee State in both teams’ tournament finale at the Bulldog Kickoff Classic in Starkville, Miss. on Sunday, but a four-run fifth inning gave MTSU the lead for good as Valpo fell by a 4-2 final.
How It Happened
- Valpo took the lead just three batters into Sunday’s game. Senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) reached on an error to lead off the game. Two batters later, sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) singled to right, and a subsequent error by the Blue Raiders’ right fielder allowed Trepanier to complete the trip around the bases and give Valpo the 1-0 advantage.
- The Valpo defense helped erase a pair of MTSU threats in the next few innings. The Blue Raiders registered back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the second, but a 5-3 double play turned first and second, no outs into a runner on second with two outs. Then, in the fourth, a 4-3 twin killing erased a leadoff single.
- A leadoff walk would turn into another run for Valpo in the fifth. Junior Addison Pixley (Osceola, Ind./Penn) led off the frame with a full-count walk, fouling off a trio of two-strike pitches to stay alive before drawing the free pass.
- Pixley then moved up to second on a groundout and was there with two outs when freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) connected on a double to left, trading places with Pixley as the latter made it 2-0 Valpo.
- But MTSU would turn the two-run deficit into a two-run lead in the bottom of the fifth. Three straight Blue Raider batters reached to load the bases with nobody out. Valpo cut down the lead runner at the plate for the first out, and then a groundout to first scored MTSU’s first run, but went for the second out of the inning.
- Each of the next two batters, Valpo was one strike away from getting out of the inning, but two-strike doubles from Lani Rodriguez and Jocelynn De La Cruz combined to score three runs and give MTSU a 4-2 advantage.
- A two-out pinch-hit walk by freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) in the sixth would be Valpo’s lone baserunner in the final two innings.
Inside the Game
- Westphal picked up her first career RBI with her run-scoring two-bagger in the fifth inning. The freshman picked up a hit in four of the weekend’s five games.
- Trepanier also hit safely in four out of five games on the weekend.
- Valpo was limited to just three hits in Sunday’s game, but drew four walks as well. No Crusader reached base more than once.
- Junior Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) took the loss in the circle, falling to 0-2 on the year as she surrendered four runs in 4.2 innings of work.
- The Valpo defense followed the double plays in the second and the fourth with a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth. The three double plays turned are the most by the Crusader defense in a single game since completing four double plays at Notre Dame in April of 2014.
Valpo (0-5) takes next weekend away from competition before returning to the diamond at the Liberty Challenge in Lynchburg, Va. The three-day tournament opens on Friday, Feb. 22, as Valpo faces Bucknell and Delaware State.