The Valparaiso University softball team closed its swing through the Tar Heel State on Tuesday afternoon with its most impressive win of the season, shutting out North Carolina State in Raleigh by a 4-0 final thanks to a four-run third inning. The win over the Wolfpack is the third victory in program history against an ACC team.
How It Happened
- Valpo put a runner on base in each of its first two turns at-bat, as freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) walked to lead off the first and fellow rookie Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) singled with one out in the second, but neither runner would score.
- Meanwhile, Valpo starting pitcher Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) worked out of trouble each of the first two innings. The Pack loaded the bases with two outs in the first on two singles and a walk before Richardson registered a strikeout looking to keep it scoreless. Then, in the second, NC State had runners on second and third with two outs, but Richardson was able to induce a grounder back to the circle for the third out.
- The third inning proved to be the key frame, both ways. Junior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) led off the top of the third with a single, and Westphal followed by dropping down a gorgeous bunt right in front of the plate for a single of her own. Freshman Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) then hit a grounder which loaded the bases, as the Pack attempted to make the play on Matalin at third and were unsuccessful.
- Senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) laced a ball to the fence in left for an RBI single of her own - the runners held up to make sure the ball wasn’t caught, and once it landed safely, Matalin easily trotted home with the game’s first run. The Wolfpack finally recorded an out on a deep fly to center from sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll), but it was more than deep enough for a sacrifice fly, as Westphal scored to make it 2-0.
- Senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) followed with Valpo’s second beautiful bunt of the inning, laying down a perfect squeeze which went for a single and plated Moeder to push the lead to three runs. Herschbach closed the scoring with Valpo’s second sacrifice fly of the frame, a fly ball to left which drove home Trepanier and gave Valpo a 4-0 lead.
- The four runs Valpo scored in the top of the third were obviously critical, but keeping the Pack off the board in the bottom of the frame was just as important. NC State led off the inning with consecutive base hits, leading to junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) to be summoned out of the bullpen.
- Packard struck out the first batter she faced, but a four-pitch walk loaded the bases with one out. An infield fly was good for the second out of the inning, and Packard did the rest herself, getting a strikeout swinging on a 2-2 pitch to Kelli Wagner and unleashing a vintage Pack leap in the air as the third frame ended.
- Valpo’s best chance at adding to its lead came in the top of the fifth, as singles from Trepanier and Lawton put two runners on base with two outs, but a strikeout ended that threat. Meanwhile, NC State had a single runner reach base in the fourth and the sixth, but no damage would be done.
- The bottom of the seventh came with Valpo still holding a four-run lead, but the Wolfpack had one final push in them. A leadoff single was followed by a pop-out, but a subsequent double and hit batter loaded the bases and brought the potential tying run to the plate with just one out. A 2-2 pitch was lined down the third-base line, but defensive replacement Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) snagged it for the second out and then scrambled to double up the runner on third, completing the double play and closing the shutout win.
Inside the Game
- Valpo earned its third win in program history over an ACC team with Tuesday’s victory. The 2008 squad beat Maryland, 7-5, when the Terrapins were still an ACC member. Going way back, the 1988 team beat Georgia Tech, 1-0.
- The shutout victory is all the more impressive when you take into account the offensive production from the Pack so far this year. NC State entered Tuesday’s game averaging better than five runs per game and led the nation in home runs per game (1.76).
- Valpo and NC State finished with eight hits apiece. Three Crusaders ended up with multi-hit games, as Trepanier, Lawton and Matalin each tallied a pair of hits.
- Westphal reached base twice as well from the leadoff spot in the order.
- Meanwhile, all of NC State’s hits came from the top four hitters in its lineup. The Pack stranded 12 runners on base as Valpo pitching did not give up a hit with runners in scoring position (0-of-8).
- Richardson struck out four in her two-plus innings of work in the circle before handing the ball to Packard, who completed the shutout with five innings of three-hit ball. Packard struck out six in improving to 5-3 on the season.
- The teams combined for just two groundouts on the afternoon.
- Valpo closes its time in North Carolina with a 4-1 record.
Valpo (6-8) returns to Northwest Indiana briefly before heading to Nashville, Tenn. this coming weekend for the Lady Bison Classic, hosted by Lipscomb. The Brown and Gold will play twice against both Lipscomb and Buffalo, with two games apiece on Saturday and Sunday.