April 29, 20181234567RHE
Win: Packard (5-5) 7.060029
Loss: Mahaffy (7-10) 6.031104
Stoner (BRAD) 202010
Moreno (VALPO) 101000
Burke (VALPO) 301000
Anderson (VALPO) 211101
Anderson Homers, Packard Tosses Shutout As Crusaders Complete Sweep
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Anderson Homers, Packard Tosses Shutout As Crusaders Complete Sweep
Brittany Anderson's solo homer accounted for the lone run of the game.

It was a simple formula which led to the Valparaiso University softball team completing a series sweep of Bradley Sunday at the Valpo Softball Complex, as freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) connected on her first career home run to lead off the second and junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) made the run stand up with a complete-game shutout in the circle as the Crusaders claimed the 1-0 win.

How It Happened

  • The lone run of the game came courtesy of the freshman Anderson in the bottom of the second. She led off the inning and watched a ball go by before cranking the 1-0 pitch for a no-doubt shot over the left field fence to put the Crusaders on top.
  • Bradley put at least one runner on base in each of the first six innings, with the most noteworthy threat from the Braves coming in the fourth. A leadoff double was followed by a walk and an infield single to load the bases with one out. But Packard dug deep, striking out the next Bradley batter before getting a grounder to third to keep the Braves off the board.
  • Valpo had just two baserunners outside of Anderson’s homer – a fourth-inning infield single from Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) and a sixth-inning pinch-hit base knock from Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) – and both runners would be left on first base.
  • But the one run proved to be enough with Packard dealing in the circle. The Braves got a runner to second with two outs in the sixth before Packard ended the frame with another strikeout. Then, in the seventh, she set down the side in order for the first time Sunday to close out the victory.

Inside the Game

  • The series sweep was Valpo’s first since joining the Valley. The Crusaders now sit at 10-12 in MVC action, in a tie for fourth place and just one-half game out of third.
  • Sunday’s victory was the Crusaders’ first of the year in a 1-0 game. Their last two 1-0 wins came over UIC in 2016 and Oakland in 2017, both at the Horizon League Tournament.
  • Packard continued her strong recent form with another stellar performance, scattering six hits while striking out nine in the complete-game shutout – her second shutout of the week.
  • Packard – who is now 4-3 with a 2.04 ERA in MVC play this year – has now struck out five or more batters in each of her last nine appearances – the longest such stretch by a pitcher in program history.
  • Valpo has now won each of its last five games, matching the program’s longest winning streak in the tenure of head coach Kate Stake. The Crusaders have won five consecutive games in conference play for the first time since taking five straight from Green Bay and Wright State in 2013.
  • The Crusaders surrendered just two runs in the five victories this week and extended to 10 straight games their streak of surrendering three or fewer runs.
  • Anderson added to her already stellar rookie resume with the decisive home run – the first of her career – on Sunday. The two-sport star, who was an MVC All-Freshman Team selection on the volleyball court, has become a fixture in the cleanup spot for the Crusaders and is hitting .279 and slugging at a .442 clip within Valley play.

Thoughts From Coach Stake

“Pack was dealing today. It was a sharp, gutsy performance from start to finish - she laid it out there every pitch. She's a competitor; she loves to pitch; and everyone loves watching her pitch. There is not much more entertaining or rewarding than watching a kid doing something she really enjoys, really well. It fires everyone up, and that makes us better.”

“I felt like the whole series was a pitching highlight reel. I think [associate head coach] Monica [Wright] did arguably the best job against Bradley of any pitching coach this year - dissecting their swings and game-planning against a traditionally very potent offense (Bradley entered the weekend just outside the top-50 in the nation in scoring and averaging almost six runs/game in conference). Our pitching staff then executed that plan and their pitches about as well as I've seen them all season. Jenna's work behind the plate can't be overlooked either; all facets of our battery were impressive.”

“It was fun to see Brittany connect on that ball over the fence; she does it quite a lot in practice, and she's continued to be a consistent presence at the plate. It was only a matter of time for her to put one over and to get a game-winning hit on top of it makes it even more special. For a kid who spent all fall playing volleyball here at Valpo, she's been a quick study this spring in getting her offense going once we had the chance to work with her.”

“Carly came up big on that last play. We mishandled the ball on a routine play at first, but Carly didn't just assume the play would be made - she went in for the backup at full speed and that made the difference. That's the type of hustle play that wins games.”

“We didn't put a ton of runs up on the board this weekend, although I think we had a lot of good at-bats, plenty of chances, and a handful of tough-luck outs. But in the end, we got the hits that mattered and our defense took great care of the ball to hold off a Bradley comeback. Our team was a fun one to watch this weekend. They played some very good ball all weekend.”

Next Up

Valpo (23-21, 10-12 MVC) steps out of conference play one final time on Wednesday as the Crusaders host Northern Illinois for a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.