March 12, 20161234567RHE
Win: Taylor-Paige Stewart (7-5) 2.220024
Loss: PICO (1-8) 2.032251
PICO (VALPO) 422000
Sara Novak (UW) 412301
Katie Christner (UW) 312000
Crusaders Fall in Hard-Fought Battle With Wisconsin
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Crusaders Fall in Hard-Fought Battle With Wisconsin
Taylor Lawson reached base three times and drove in a run Saturday against Wisconsin.

The Valparaiso University softball team engaged in a back-and-forth battle with Big Ten foe Wisconsin at the Rebel Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. on Saturday evening, but a pair of runs in the sixth would allow the Badgers to claim a 7-5 victory over the Crusaders.

Valpo looked to strike early against the Badgers, putting two runners on with one out in the first and loading the bases with two away in the second. Both times, however, the Crusaders stranded the runners on base. Meanwhile, Wisconsin claimed the quick advantage in the bottom of the first, as Sara Novak connected on a two-out, two-run homer.

The Crusaders would finally break through in the third, pushing three runs across to take the lead. A one-out solo homer from senior Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) got Valpo on the board. Then, with one on and two outs, four straight Crusader batters reached base, including run-scoring singles from senior Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]) and junior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro), as Valpo went ahead 3-2.

Wisconsin reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fourth with three runs, but senior Sierra Pico (Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) held the deficit at just two runs, stranding the bases loaded with a strikeout. Pico then contributed to Valpo evening the score in the top of the fifth, reaching on an error with one out. Junior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice, and a miscue by the Badgers allowed both runners to score to tie the game at 5-5.

Valpo put runners on the corners with two outs in the sixth, but couldn’t push a run across the plate, and Wisconsin would score the game’s final runs on back-to-back doubles in its half of the sixth inning. The Crusaders had one more push, as Lawson walked and sophomore Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) singled with two outs in the seventh, but a strikeout would close out the game.

Lawson, Moreno and Pico all picked up two of Valpo’s 11 hits – a Crusader season high. Lawson also walked once as well to reach base three times, while sophomore Taylor Nadler (New Haven, Mo./St. Francis Borgia) and freshman Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) each drew two bases on balls. Pico took the loss in the circle out of the bullpen for the Crusaders, while Taylor-Paige Stewart earned the relief win to improve to 7-5 for Wisconsin (11-9).

Valparaiso (2-14) closes out its spring break trip with two more games Sunday in Las Vegas. The Crusaders are slated to take on Santa Clara at 3:30 p.m. CT before facing host UNLV at 5:45 p.m. CT. Live stats for the game against the Rebels will be available via