The Valparaiso University softball team put 15 runs on the board in a home Horizon League doubleheader for the Crusaders against Green Bay Tuesday afternoon, but it would only be enough for a split, as after downing the Phoenix 11-1 in game one, Valpo fell in the nightcap to Green Bay, 12-4.
The Crusaders launched four home runs in run-ruling the Phoenix in the opener, including the first career round-trippers in the careers of senior Sierra Pico (Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) and sophomore Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium). But despite connecting on two more homers in the nightcap, Valpo struggled to push runs across the plate, going just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and leaving 10 runners on base as the Phoenix turned the tables to run-rule the Crusaders.
Green Bay actually jumped out on top in the opener, as the Crusaders surrendered their first run in the last four games in the bottom of the first. The Phoenix, batting as the home team since the series was originally scheduled to be played in Green Bay, plated a run thanks to a leadoff walk, a sacrifice, a wild pitch and a single.
It would remain a 1-0 Green Bay lead until the top of the third, when in a span of seven pitches, it went from one out and nobody on base to a 4-1 Crusader advantage. Senior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) started the quick rally with a liner into shallow center and moved up to second on a sacrifice.
Sophomore Taylor Nadler (New Haven, Mo./St. Francis Borgia) knocked a first-pitch single back through the middle, enough to plate Lawson to tie the game. Two pitches later, sophomore Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) sent a deep fly to left field which carried out for a two-run homer, her third of the season and second in the last three days. Senior Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) then connected on an opposite-field homer – her fourth of the year – on a 1-0 pitch for back-to-back four-baggers as the Crusaders led 4-1.
Valpo added one run on a Green Bay error in the fourth to push the lead to four runs, and then scored six in the fifth – more than enough to invoke the run rule. Callaghan scored on an RBI single from freshman Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) to get the scoring started in the fifth, and Ramirez followed with a shot to left-center that cleared the fence for a three-run homer. Later in the inning, Pico pinch hit with a runner on base and delivered her first career home run, one which left the yard at nearly the same spot as Ramirez’s homer and a homer which made it 11-1 Valpo.
The work of senior Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]) in the circle helped the offensive barrage more than stand up in the opener, as after a rough first inning, Lindeman retired the final 11 batters she faced to improve to 3-4 on the season. Sophomore Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) entered in relief in the fifth inning and tossed a scoreless frame, while Green Bay starter Bailey Smaney took the loss to fall to 5-7, surrendering nine runs in 4.1 innings of work.
“Mollie hit her spots consistently throughout the game,” said Crusader head coach Kate Stake on Lindeman’s success in the opener. “She forced Green Bay’s batters into a lot of swings and misses.”
Ramirez and Trepanier each had two of Valpo’s 10 hits, while the rookie Trepanier also walked as she reached in each of her three plate appearances.
But for all the offense in the opener, the Crusaders were unable to come up with the big hits in the nightcap as they fell via run rule. The first inning proved to be a harbinger of things to come, as Valpo loaded the bases with one out, but scored just one run – a Ranieri sacrifice fly which plated Lawson. Meanwhile, the Phoenix scored three in the bottom of the first to take the lead for good on three straight singles, followed by two sacrifice flies.
Green Bay scored four runs in the second after Valpo stranded runners on the corners, but the Crusaders cut a run off the Phoenix lead in the third on a solo home run by Nadler. Junior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) launched a no-doubt two-run homer over the scoreboard to bring Valpo within 7-4 with nobody out in the fourth, and the next three Crusaders would reach on a single, a walk and another base hit. But back-to-back strikeouts and a pop-up kept the deficit at three runs, and the Phoenix plated one in the fourth and four in the fifth to close the game.
Katie Rossmann earned the win for Green Bay (10-23, 1-4 Horizon) with three-plus innings of work to improve to 4-6, while senior Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) started and took the loss for Valpo, falling to 4-7 after registering just four outs. Lawson went 3-for-4 and stole a base in the nightcap, while Nadler was a perfect 2-for-2.
“The last several games have proven that when we combine good hitting, good pitching and good defense, we can win games,” said Stake. “We need to remain confident as a team going into tomorrow, and not let one negative outcome today affect us going forward.”
Valparaiso (8-21, 3-4 Horizon) looks to try to finish the series at .500 in league play on Wednesday afternoon at noon as the Crusaders host Green Bay in the final game of the three-game league set. The game will be broadcast live on WVUR, with links for live stats and audio available via ValpoAthletics.com. Updates on the game, with inclement weather in the forecast, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com and on Valpo Softball’s social media.