The Valparaiso University softball team made sure it would be a happy trip back to campus following its final pre-conference games, as strong pitching and defense resulted in a 2-1, 10-inning victory over host Lipscomb and a 2-0 win over Buffalo at the Lady Bison Classic in Nashville, Tenn. on Sunday.
How It Happened – Lipscomb
- It took Valpo just three batters to take the lead against the host Bisons, as junior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) went deep on a full-count pitch over the wall in right-center field to put the Brown and Gold on top.
- Lipscomb’s Khayla Green connected for a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the second to even the game at 1-1.
- The pitcher’s duel featured just five baserunners reaching base over the final five innings of regulation. For Valpo, sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) delivered a two-out infield single in the fourth and an 11-pitch walk with one out in the seventh, but she would not advance past first either time.
- Meanwhile, junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) was mowing down hitters in the circle for Valpo. A two-out walk in the fourth was the only blemish on her scorecard over a four-inning stretch. Then, in the seventh, Lipscomb put two runners on via a one-out single and a two-out walk, but Packard got a strikeout swinging to keep the Bisons off the board and send the game to extra innings.
- With the game being part of tournament play, the international tiebreak rule was in effect starting with the eighth inning, placing a runner on second with nobody out to start the inning.
- With offense being hard to come by for both squads, both teams took risks in the eighth inning that failed to pay off. Valpo got its runner to third with one out in the top of the eighth and sent the runner on a fly ball to left, but a good throw from the Lipscomb left fielder cut the run down at the plate for a double play to keep it a 1-1 game.
- In the bottom of the eighth, the Bisons got a leadoff single to put runners on the corners, and the trail runner then advanced to second uncontested with nobody out. With the top of the order up, Lipscomb elected to attempt a squeeze, but the batter was unable to get the bunt down, and catcher Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) rifled a throw down to third to pick off the lead runner. Packard then induced a groundout and recorded another strikeout to send the game to the ninth.
- Valpo went down in order in its half of the ninth, and Lipscomb got its tiebreak runner to third with one out in the bottom of the inning. But with the Valpo infield drawn in, a slow roller to second for the second wasn’t enough for the Bisons to attempt to score, and another strikeout for Packard moved the game into the 10th inning.
- Valpo finally broke through in the third inning of the international tiebreak. A sacrifice bunt advanced Trepanier to third, and after Anderson was intentionally walked, freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) lined a single into right to bring Trepanier home with the go-ahead run.
- Packard and the defense took care of business in the bottom of the frame to close out the win with a pair of foul-outs and a grounder for a 1-2-3 inning.
How It Happened – Buffalo
- Buffalo looked poised to potentially take the lead in the top of the first following a leadoff double and a wild pitch. But Valpo starting pitcher Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) struck out back-to-back hitters, and then following a walk, got a grounder to short to keep the Bulls from scoring.
- Meanwhile, Valpo was able to take advantage of some early wildness from Buffalo starter Ally Power to take the lead in the bottom of the frame. Freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) wasted no time getting started, lining the first pitch she saw back through the middle for a leadoff single.
- The rookie stole second on a straight steal and then swiped third as well to move within 60 feet of crossing the plate. But it would be a leisurely trot home for Westphal with the game’s first run, as behind her, junior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) and Trepanier drew walks to load the bases, and senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) followed by watching four consecutive pitches go by for balls for an RBI walk.
- Buffalo loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second, prompting a call to the bullpen for junior Jenna Edwards (George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]). Edwards came on and got the job done in a tough spot, as a pop-up to short and a strikeout left the bases loaded and Valpo still with the one-run lead.
- Valpo doubled its lead in the bottom of the third. Matalin led off the frame with a triple to straightaway center field, and Trepanier followed with a long fly ball in the same spot that looked destined to be a two-run homer for her second round-tripper of the day. But the Buffalo center fielder reached over the 220 sign in center to make the catch, robbing Trepanier of the home run. Matalin still easily scored, however, as it turned into a sacrifice fly that made it 2-0 Crusaders.
- Edwards and the defense got the job done from there, as Buffalo had just three baserunners over the final four innings, only one of whom got as far as second base.
Inside the Games
- The wins move Valpo’s record to 8-8 on the season, the first time the Crusaders have been .500 or better this year.
- Sunday’s pair of wins improved Valpo’s record to 8-0 on the year when surrendering two or fewer runs.
- Valpo enters MVC play having won seven of its last eight games.
- Valpo won two games in the same day while scoring two or fewer runs in both victories for the first time since May 12, 2012, when the Crusaders claimed the Horizon League Tournament over Loyola with a pair of 2-1 wins.
- The win over Lipscomb was Valpo’s second straight strong pitching performance against a team which entered the game averaging at least five runs/contest.
- Packard went the distance in the circle against the Bisons, improving to 6-3 on the year as she surrendered just four hits and one run in 10 innings of work while striking out nine. It was the first time in her Valpo career the junior has pitched more than eight innings in a single game.
- Packard has now given up one run or fewer in six of her last seven appearances, including five starts. She is 5-0 with a save over that stretch and has seen her ERA drop from 4.48 to 2.29.
- Trepanier’s home run against Lipscomb was her second of the season and her seventh career long ball. Meanwhile, Matalin registered just her second career triple with the three-bagger versus Buffalo.
- Anderson reached base three times against Lipscomb thanks to a single and a pair of walks, just the second time in her Crusader career she has reached three times in a single game.
- Westphal’s pair of stolen bases in the win over Buffalo make her a perfect 9-for-9 this year on the basepaths. The freshman already has stolen multiple bases in three different games.
- Edwards earned the victory with her strong relief work versus the Bulls, improving her record this year to 2-4. She threw a season-high 5.2 shutout innings – her first appearance as a Crusader without surrendering a run – and set a new season best with six strikeouts while giving up just two hits.
Valpo (8-8) is scheduled to open Missouri Valley Conference play this weekend at Bradley with a three-game series. The series opens with a Saturday doubleheader and closes on Sunday with a single game. All three games are scheduled for broadcast on ESPN+, and will have live stats available as well.