Images of a pitcher alone with their thoughts during offensive half-innings of a possible no-hitter permeate broadcasts of those games. Now imagine having nearly 48 hours to ponder the potential feat.
That’s what Valpo softball junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) faced on Sunday morning, resuming the suspended tournament opener against Wagner having had nearly two full days to sit on the knowledge she was six outs away from a no-no. But Packard came out and shut the door on the Seahawks, setting down Wagner in order in the final two innings to finish out the no-hitter and a 13-0 Valpo win.
Valpo’s final tournament game from the Green and White Invitational in Charlotte was a rematch against Wagner, a game in which the Seahawks would claim a 7-6 walk-off victory. Despite the loss in the finale, Valpo closed the tournament with a 3-1 record.
How It Happened – Resumed Game
- Friday’s game was suspended with Valpo leading 11-0 through three complete innings. Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) launched a two-run homer in the first inning to open the scoring, and Valpo added three runs in the second and six in the third to enter potential run-rule territory.
- After being suspended at 10:35 local time Friday morning, the game against Wagner resumed at 9 a.m. Sunday morning with Wagner batting in the top of the fourth.
- Packard quickly retired the Seahawks in the fourth on two outs in the air and a strikeout.
- With an 11-run lead, Valpo head coach Kate Stake utilized four consecutive pinch-hitters to open the bottom of the fourth, and all four would pick up hits. Sophomore Ashley Barker (Coal Valley, Ill./Moline) led off the inning with a double and scored on an RBI double from junior Addison Pixley (Osceola, Ind./Penn).
- Pixley then traded spots with freshman Maddie Henry (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford), who lined an RBI double to the gap for her first career base hit. Junior Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) followed with a pinch-hit single of her own in her second career plate appearance.
- All that was left was for Packard to finish out the no-hitter, and it would take the junior just 10 pitches in the top of the fifth to close it out. Back-to-back groundouts accounted for the first two outs, and a lineout to third secured the victory and the no-no.
How It Happened – Regularly Scheduled Game
- Just 20 minutes after the no-hitter concluded, Valpo and Wagner returned to the field for their regularly scheduled Sunday morning tournament finale, with Packard back in the circle for the Crusaders.
- Valpo kept the offense rolling early, scoring multiple runs in two of the first three innings. It took the Crusaders just a handful of pitches to claim the lead in the first, as freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) led off with a single, stole second and came home on a run-scoring double from classmate Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley). Later in the inning, a sacrifice fly by Anderson scored Moeder to make it 2-0.
- Moeder got things going as Valpo plated two in the third as well, singling with one out and eventually coming across on Anderson’s second sacrifice fly of the game. Freshman Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) followed Anderson’s sacrifice fly with an RBI double, scoring senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) – who had singled earlier in the inning – to push the lead to 4-0.
- After two more hitless innings to open the game from Packard, Wagner finally started to get its offense going in the third, scoring three runs. The Seahawks added three fourth-inning runs as well to go ahead 6-4.
- Valpo evened the score in the top of the sixth, thanks to a home run from senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) which also scored freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) – who had led off the frame with a double – to make it a 6-6 game.
- The Crusaders had the opportunity to regain the lead in the sixth, as after tying the game, Barker and junior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) picked up back-to-back singles to put two runners aboard with still nobody out. But a fly-out and two strikeouts ended the Valpo threat.
- Both sides went down in order in their next turn at-bat before Wagner eventually walked off in the bottom of the seventh. Natalie Del Ponte delivered a game-ending single which scored Karen Prihoda, who had walked to lead off the inning.
- Packard’s no-hitter was the first of her Valpo career. She threw two no-hitters in 2017 while at Rock Valley College, the most recent of which was a seven-inning no-hitter against Joliet in a 10-0 win on April 24, 2017.
- Packard’s no-hitter was Valpo’s first since Emily Richardson tossed a no-hitter against North Carolina Central last season on February 18. Prior to that, Valpo had not had a no-hitter since 2013.
- Packard tossed a one-hitter last season at Illinois State on May 5, the closest Valpo had come to a no-hitter since Richardson’s no-no until Sunday.
- Packard’s no-hitter is the 11th known no-hitter in program history.
- While the game concluded on March 3, since it was started on March 1 and suspended, the no-hitter will go down in the record books as having been thrown on March 1.
- Packard isn’t the first member of her family to throw a no-hitter this season. Sister Kaylin Packard, a freshman at UMKC, threw a no-hitter against Grambling State just eight days ago on February 23.
Inside the Games
- Valpo’s 13-0 win in the tournament opener against Wagner is its largest shutout victory since a 17-0 win at Detroit on April 21, 2013.
- Valpo closed out a suspended game for the first time since March 9, 2015, when a tournament game at Colorado State was suspended due to darkness on March 8 after eight innings and resumed the next day.
- Valpo earned run-rule wins over the weekend against both Charlotte and Wagner, the first time it picked up two run-rule wins at the same tournament since twice needing just six innings to beat IPFW on February 8-9, 2015. The last time it run-ruled two different opponents at the same tournament came against UNC Wilmington and Charleston Southern on March 2-3, 2013.
- 11 players recorded hits in the opening win, six of which were doubles, while 10 players scored runs.
- Anderson’s home run in the opener was the second of her career.
- Trepanier picked up her 27th career stolen base in the win over the Seahawks, tied for tenth-most in program history. She closed the weekend with 169 career hits as well, just one shy of ninth in the program’s record books.
- Four players ended the finale with multi-hit efforts – Herschbach, Trepanier, Moeder and Matalin.
- Moeder scored a pair of runs in the finale as well, while both Lawton and Anderson drove in multiple runs.
- Anderson’s two RBIs in the finale came via a pair of sacrifice flies. Lanie Callaghan recorded a pair of sac flies last season against Southern Illinois, but prior to that, Valpo had not had a player with two sac flies in one game since 2002.
- Packard finished with no decision, going 3.1 innings and striking out five in the start in the regularly scheduled game. Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) took the loss, falling to 1-4 as she pitched the other 2.2 innings in relief.
Valpo (5-8) remains in the Tar Heel State for one final game, as it will face off against ACC foe North Carolina State on Tuesday at 11 a.m. CT in Raleigh. The game can be seen live on ACC Network Extra.