The Valparaiso University softball team earned its first win in program history over DePaul on Friday in the Crusaders’ tournament opener at the Rebel Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., shutting down the Blue Demons in a 5-1 win over their fellow Midwest foe. Valpo took on Utah State in its second game of the day, falling to the Aggies by an 18-4 final.
A series which dates back to 1986 in the Crusader record books, Valpo entered Friday 0-43-1 all-time against DePaul, picking up that tie in the back end of a doubleheader in the first season the two programs met. The five runs scored on Friday also marked the most that Valpo has ever posted versus the Blue Demons.
DePaul struck first in the meeting between the two Midwest programs, as the Blue Demons strung together three straight singles to lead off the top of the second and claim a 1-0 lead. Crusader starting pitcher Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) shut DePaul down from there, however, inducing a pair of foul-outs around a strikeout to keep the Blue Demons at just one run.
That would be a harbinger of things to come for the Crusaders when on defense, as first Weissenhofer and then fellow senior Sierra Pico (Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) limited DePaul from doing any further damage. DePaul would finish with 10 hits, but would strand 10 runners on base as the pair of Valpo pitchers held the Blue Demons to just 1-of-10 hitting with runners in scoring position.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders strung together hits in the second and third innings to take control of the game. Facing a one-run deficit in the bottom of the second, senior Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) led off with a walk and junior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) followed with a single. The pair both moved up 60 feet on a groundout, and later in the inning junior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) delivered a big two-out single into right-center field, scoring both runners to give Valpo a 2-1 lead.
Valpo extended its lead in the third, as with one out, sophomore Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) laid down a one-out bunt single and scored on a double from sophomore Taylor Nadler (New Haven, Mo./St. Francis Borgia). After a pitching change, Ranieri delivered a run-scoring double of her own to push the Valpo advantage to 4-1. The Crusaders capped the scoring in the bottom of the fifth when Moreno led off the frame with a single and eventually scored on a pinch-hit base knock from senior Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]).
Moreno and freshman Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) both had multi-hit games to lead Valpo’s 10-hit attack against the Blue Demons, while Ranieri reached base in all three of her plate appearances with a double and two walks. Weissenhofer earned the win in the circle for Valpo to improve to 1-3 on the year, as she surrendered just one run in 5.1 innings of work, while starter Megan Leyva took the loss for DePaul (4-15), falling to 0-6 on the season.
The second game of the day saw Utah State take control early, as the Aggies scored two runs in the first and three runs in the second before plating 10 in the third en route to the run-rule win. Valpo got an RBI single from Nadler in the first, a run-scoring double by Ranieri in the third and a two-run homer from Stewart – her third of the season – to cap the scoring in the fifth.
Three different Utah State players tallied three hits apiece, while Bailey Lewis led the Aggies with four RBIs. Pico took the loss in the circle for Valpo, falling to 1-7, while Katie Schroeder improved to 3-0 with the win for Utah State (7-9).
Valparaiso (2-13) continues action from Las Vegas on Saturday with a single game against Wisconsin at 5:45 p.m. CT. Live stats for the game will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.