The Valparaiso softball team dropped a pair of games at the Diamond Devil Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. on Saturday, falling to Creighton in eight innings, 3-1, before coming out on the wrong end of a 7-2 decision against a Pacific squad receiving votes in the national top-25 poll.
“We have to do a better job of being consistent,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We have competed, but in order to win against quality opponents, we’re going to have to bring ourselves back together and show up with excitement to play. Tomorrow won’t be any easier for us, but our team has to go out and find a way to get it done.”
The Crusaders got on the board first against Creighton, opening the scoring in the bottom of the second. Senior Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) picked up a leadoff double and eventually came around to score on an error by the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, senior Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) would not allow a Creighton runner past second base through the first six frames as Valpo maintained a 1-0 lead into the seventh.
But for the second time this year, the Crusaders would lose a lead with two outs in the seventh inning. Christa Ruf drew a one-out walk and moved up to second on a groundout before Allie Mathewson drove her in with a single back through the middle. Valpo pinch-runner Hayley Bridwell (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) stole second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but wouldn’t advance further as the game moved into extra innings.
Playing under the international tiebreak rules, the Blue Jays started the top of the eighth with a runner on second. Two batters later, Bri Lingl connected on a two-run homer for the final margin. Valpo would go down 1-2-3 in its half of the eighth inning.
The Crusaders were limited to just two hits in their opener on Saturday, as sophomore Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) was the only other Valpo player to tally a base knock against the Blue Jays. Lagesse took the complete-game loss, falling to 5-3, while Becca Changstrom earned the victory for Creighton (9-9) to improve to 4-5.
Two-out extra-base hits in the first two innings would put Valpo in a hole it couldn’t climb out of in the second game of the day against Pacific. The Crusaders actually scored first, drawing first blood in the top of the opening frame. Bridwell, starting for the first time this season, led off the game with an infield single and stole second before eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by senior Sara Strickland (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon).
Pacific would score in each of its first three at-bats, however. The Tigers got a two-out, three-run homer from Amy Moore in the bottom of the first and a two-out, two-run double by Kelsey Rodriguez in the second inning. Megan Foglesong added a two-run homer of her own in the third to push the Tigers’ lead to 7-1. Redshirt sophomore Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) cut a run off the deficit with a solo round-tripper in the fourth, her fourth home run in the last five games, but the Crusaders managed just two baserunners in the final three innings.
Redshirt junior Amanda Bolton (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon [Arizona]) made her first appearance of the season, starting and taking the loss against the Tigers, while senior Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) pitched the final 4.1 innings. Nikki Armagost moved to 5-2, earning the complete-game win for Pacific (13-8).
Valparaiso (11-7) closes out the Diamond Devil Invitational on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. CDT against East Carolina. Live stats will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.