The Valparaiso softball team struck the first blow Friday afternoon in its Horizon League opener at the Valparaiso University Softball Field against Green Bay in a rematch of last season’s championship, but the Phoenix responded with seven unanswered runs as the Crusaders fell 7-2. The series will conclude with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.
Valpo looked to open the scoring in the bottom of the second following a double steal, which put runners on second and third with one out, but a pair of pop-outs ended that Crusader threat. Facing a runner on third with one away in the top of the third, Crusader starting pitcher Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]) registered a big strikeout and then induced a fly ball two batters later to keep the game scoreless.
The Crusaders would get the scoring started in the bottom of the third frame. Sophomore Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) led off the inning with a double the opposite way and stole third two batters later to move to within 60 feet of home plate. The stolen base proved to be unnecessary, however, as freshman Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) launched a two-run homer to left to make it 2-0 Valpo through three innings.
But the Phoenix took the lead for good in the top of the fourth. A bases-loaded single from Miranda Spangberg gave Green Bay a 3-2 lead, and the Phoenix would tack on two more runs in the inning on a pair of bases-loaded walks. The Crusaders were able to advance just one runner into scoring position the rest of the way, while Green Bay’s Abby Brinkmeier added a two-run homer in the sixth for the final margin.
Lindeman took the loss for Valpo, throwing 3.1 innings and falling to 3-6 on the season. Junior Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) tossed the final 3.2 innings for the Crusaders. Heather Sanderson went the distance in the circle to earn the win for Green Bay (7-11, 1-0 Horizon). Lawson went 2-for-2 out of the ninth spot in the batting order to lead Valpo.
Valparaiso (6-15, 0-1 Horizon) closes out the series with Green Bay on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Live audio and live stats for both games will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.