There were just two run-scoring blows on Tuesday afternoon at the Valpo Softball Complex, but unfortunately for the Valparaiso University softball team, both came off the bats of visiting UIC players, as the Flames handed the Crusaders a 6-0 loss in their Horizon League series opener.
How It Happened
- Valpo’s best chances at cracking the scoreboard came early on in the game, with its best opportunity coming in the first inning. Sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, and senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) followed with a single to put two on. But Trepanier was caught trying to steal third, and Calombaris would be stranded at second.
- In the bottom of the second, junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) drew a leadoff walk, but could only advance as far as second base.
- The Crusader defense turned double plays with one on and one out in the top of the first, and then with one on and nobody out in the fourth. But the Flames would open the scoring later in the fourth, as following an infield single, Jennah Speth connected on a two-run homer.
- After retiring the first batter in the fifth, two singles and a walk loaded the bases for UIC’s Skylee James, who delivered a grand slam to cap the scoring.
- While the Crusaders only went down in order one time out of seven innings, they were unable to advance a runner into scoring position after Callaghan reached second in the second frame.
Inside the Game
- Trepanier and Calombaris picked up Valpo’s lone base hits of the game, as UIC starter Elaine Heflin – coming off a nine-inning no-hitter with 17 strikeouts at YSU in her last start – went the distance and struck out 11 Crusaders.
- Combined with her leadoff hit by pitch in the first, Trepanier reached base in two of her three plate appearances, as did sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]), who drew a pair of walks.
- For the first time this season, senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) failed to reach base. Stewart went 0-for-3, snapping her program-record 29-game on-base streak.
- Junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) took the loss to fall to 12-6 for Valpo, as she gave up the two run-scoring homers. Freshman Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) scattered three hits in 2.2 shutout innings out of the bullpen.
- This marks the third time in their first four Horizon League series that the Crusaders have dropped the series opener. Each of the first two times this year, Valpo has rebounded with wins in each of the series’ final two games.
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“The story of the game was that UIC was able to take advantage of their opportunities and we weren’t able to take advantage of our chances. Heflin was struggling to find the zone early on, and while we showed some good discipline at the plat e during that stretch, we weren’t able to capitalize when we got runners on.”
“I thought our pitching, other than a couple of mistakes that UIC took full advantage of, was solid – if we pitch the same way tomorrow and adjust our approach at the plate hitting, we’ll be in a good place. I feel like we need our infield to take a step up – we had a few plays today, that while they might not have gone down as errors, were plays that we expect our infield – which is a very good group defensively – to make to help limit UIC’s chances.”
The Crusaders (19-11, 6-4 Horizon) conclude the three-game set with league-leading UIC on Wednesday afternoon at the Valpo Softball Complex with a 1 p.m. doubleheader. The games can be seen live on ESPN3, with all the live coverage links available via ValpoAthletics.com.