The Valparaiso softball team lost a pair of games on the first day of action at the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday. One swing was the difference in a 4-0 loss in the Crusaders’ opener against #RV/-- James Madison, while Valpo then fell 8-0 to host Hawai’i in the nightcap.
“It’s pretty simple – we have to score to win,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “To do that, we must stop giving away so many at-bats and becoming easy outs. We continue to give up big innings, and our pitching staff has to figure out how to prevent that. On top of that, we have to take better care of the ball – it certainly doesn’t help when we give teams extra outs. That said, our team continues to work hard, but we’ve got to put it into practice on the field.”
The Crusaders had chances in the opener to push the first run of the game across the plate, putting two runners on in the first and getting a runner to third with two outs in the third, but neither time was Valpo able to take the lead. Junior Tarah McShane (Streamwood, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, but ended up stranded on second as well.
James Madison got all its runs on one swing of the bat in the top of the fifth, as after an error, a single and a walk loaded the bases with one out, Jailyn Ford connected with an 0-2 pitch for a grand slam for the game’s only scoring. A single, a walk and a wild pitch put two in scoring position with nobody out for the Crusaders in the sixth, but Ford struck out the side from there to eliminate the Valpo threat.
Sophomore Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]) took the loss for the Crusaders, falling to 1-3 as she gave up all four runs in 4.1 innings of work despite surrendering just three hits. Ford improved to 8-4 for James Madison with five innings of shutout relief work, striking out nine. Sophomore Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) drew a pair of walks to reach base twice against the Dukes.
Hawai’i struck first against the Crusaders in the nightcap, as after Valpo stranded a pair of runners in the top of the first, the Rainbow Wahine scored twice in the bottom half of the frame. Attempting to cut the deficit in half, the Crusaders had a runner gunned down at the plate in the third, and Hawai’i then scored six runs in its half of the third for the final margin. Valpo loaded the bases in the fourth on a double from Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) and a pair of walks, but was unable to crack the scoreboard.
Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) fell to 2-5 for the Crusaders after giving up seven runs, six of which were earned, in the start, while Loie Kesterson improved to 6-3 with the complete-game two-hitter for Hawai’i (12-10). Ranieri reached twice for the second straight game with a base hit and a walk, while freshman Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) drew a pair of free passes as well.
Valparaiso (4-16) faces the highest-ranked opponent in program history on Thursday, as the Crusaders take on #2/4 Oregon at 9 p.m. CT (4 p.m. local). Live stats for the game will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.