The Valparaiso University softball team left the Liberty Challenge in Lynchburg, Va. on a winning note Sunday afternoon, as junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) twirled a four-hit shutout and Valpo’s patience at the plate led to 10 walks in a 7-0 win over Princeton. Earlier in the day, Valpo fell by an 11-5 final score to Wright State.
How It Happened – Wright State
- Valpo opened the scoring three batters into the bottom of the first. Freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) led off with a bunt single, advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on an RBI double from senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno).
- Wright State tied the game with a single run in the top of the second, but it took Valpo just eight pitches in the bottom of the frame to regain the lead. Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) doubled to the left-center gap to open the inning and then stole third before an RBI groundout from senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) made it 2-1 Valpo.
- The Raiders scored a pair in the top of the third, one of which was unearned, to go ahead 3-2, but that advantage lasted just four pitches. Leading off the bottom of the third, Westphal took advantage of some gusty winds on Sunday with a ball in the air that would go for an inside-the-park home run to tie the score at 3-3.
- WSU took the lead for good in its half of the fourth, scoring four runs – three of which came on a three-run homer by Madison Whitaker – to go ahead 7-3.
- Valpo looked to rally yet again in the bottom of the fourth, opening the frame with three straight hits. Freshman Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) led off with a single and Anderson followed with a base knock of her own. Lawton drilled a double down the left-field line to score Tonoian, and a sacrifice fly from sophomore Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) brought Anderson home to make it a 7-5 game.
- But two runs were all Valpo would score in the fourth, and no Crusader advanced past second base in the final three innings. The Raiders scored three runs in the fifth and one in the seventh to close the scoring.
How It Happened – Princeton
- Neither squad could push a run across in the first three innings, as neither Valpo nor Princeton got a runner past second base.
- Valpo finally broke the seal on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Anderson beat out an infield single, and freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) and Lawton drew consecutive one-out walks to load the bases. Two batters later, junior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) came up with a clutch two-out hit, turning on a 1-1 offering down the third-base line to score Anderson and Herschbach and make it 2-0 Valpo.
- While Valpo took the lead in its half of the fourth, keeping Princeton off the board in the bottom of the inning might have been the game’s turning point. The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs thanks to a single and a pair of walks, but Packard would win a nine-pitch battle with Princeton’s Alex Colon, inducing an infield pop-up to keep it 2-0.
- The Crusaders doubled their lead in the fifth, as freshman Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) and Trepanier led off the inning with back-to-back walks and would both score on a two-run double from Tonoian.
- Valpo took advantage of a Princeton error to score two more runs in the sixth, and then closed the scoring with runners on the corners in that inning, as Trepanier got caught in a rundown long enough to allow Moeder to score from third and make it 7-0.
Inside the Games
- Valpo got in four out of its five scheduled games on the weekend despite inclement weather that forced the suspension of tournament play for more than 24 hours Friday afternoon into Saturday. The Crusaders’ scheduled game against the host Flames was canceled.
- Westphal (2-for-4, two runs) and Anderson (2-for-3, two runs) led the way offensively for Valpo against Wright State.
- Westphal’s inside-the-park home run was Valpo’s first such round tripper since Kelsey Phalen circled the bases on a ball that didn’t leave the yard against Iowa State on March 2, 2012.
- Freshman Taylor Knight (Omaha, Neb./Elkhorn South) started and eventually re-entered in relief against Wright State, pitching a total of 4.1 innings. Junior Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) took the loss in the circle in two innings of relief work, falling to 0-3 this year.
- Valpo tallied just four hits as a team in the win over Princeton, but drew 10 walks – the most bases on balls by a Valpo squad since drawing 10 walks against Youngstown State on May 4, 2013.
- Moeder led the patient brigade at the plate against the Tigers, working three walks and eventually scoring two runs. It was the first three-walk game by a Crusader since Lawton took three walks last season against Fort Wayne on April 11.
- Both of Valpo’s seniors – Lawton and Trepanier – finished with two walks against Princeton as well.
- Anderson scored another run in the win over Princeton, giving her six runs scored over the weekend’s four games. The sophomore entered the weekend with just nine career runs scored in the first 40 appearances of her career.
- Meanwhile, Packard shut down the Tiger offense, going the distance and surrendering just four hits while striking out seven to improve to 2-3 on the year. For Packard, it was her fifth career shutout in 19 starts in a Valpo uniform.
Valpo (2-7) returns to the diamond next weekend at the Green and White Invitational in Charlotte, N.C. The three-day tournament starts on Friday, March 1 with games against Wagner and the College of Charleston.