The Valparaiso University softball team closed out its 2018 home campaign with a non-conference doubleheader against Northern Illinois on Wednesday afternoon. The Crusaders defeated the Huskies in the opener, 5-3, before falling 8-4 in a weather-shortened nightcap.
How It Happened – Game One
- Valpo jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opener by scoring in the second, third and fourth innings. The Crusaders opened the scoring in the second as junior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) led off with a sharp single into center, eventually stole third and scored on an RBI base knock from senior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara).
- Valpo pushed its advantage to four runs in the third. Junior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) plated fifth-year senior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) with a double to the opposite gap to make it 2-0. Then, following a bunt single from freshman Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn), fellow rookie Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) lined a single into right field to score both runners to make it a 4-0 lead.
- The Crusaders scored their final run in the fourth inning thanks to a successful squeeze bunt by Lawson, as senior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) – who had singled and moved all the way around to third thanks to an NIU error – came home with Valpo’s fifth run.
- NIU would score its first run on a solo homer from Jenny Van Geertry to lead off the fifth, and then a two-run homer by Dominique Greeno with nobody out in the seventh made it a 5-3 game. NIU would actually get the potential go-ahead run to the plate with still zero outs in the seventh, but junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) recorded back-to-back strikeouts and then got a fly ball to center to close out the win.
How It Happened – Game Two
- The Crusaders opened the scoring in their first turn at the plate. Trepanier struck right away, swinging first pitch and knocking a single into right center, and would eventually complete her trip around the bases and score thanks to an error by the Huskies.
- NIU tied the game with a run in the second, but the Crusaders responded with two in the bottom half of the frame. Senior Brenna Boyle (St. John, Ind./Andrean) worked a one-out walk and Lawson dropped down a bunt single. Two batters later, Trepanier sent a ball into right-center which fell just out of reach of NIU’s center fielder and right fielder for a two-run double, giving Valpo a 3-1 lead.
- The advantage would prove to be short-lived, however. NIU scored seven runs in the top of the third, with the key blow being a grand slam by Abby Howlett, to go ahead 8-3.
- Valpo got a run back in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of a leadoff home run by Boyle for her first round-tripper of the year, but Valpo’s final six batters of the game would go down in order.
- The game was called after five complete innings as lightning was detected in the area.
Inside the Games
- Wednesday’s pair of games closed out Valpo’s home slate this season. The Crusaders went 8-7 this year at the Valpo Softball Complex – the ninth time in the last 10 years they have finished with a .500 record or better at home.
- The win in the opener was Valpo’s first over NIU since 2014. The Huskies swept the Crusaders in doubleheaders in both 2015 and 2017.
- The win the first game gave the Crusaders a six-game winning streak – the program’s longest since winning seven straight March 30-April 3, 2013 – before the nightcap loss snapped the streak.
- Senior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) earned the win in the opener with four shutout innings, improving to 13-10 on the season – just one win shy of again cracking Valpo’s single-season top-10 for victories. Wednesday marked the seventh time in 22 starts for Grossmann this year that she has not given up an earned run.
- Packard picked up her first save as a Crusader by throwing the final three innings of the opener, striking out six batters. Combined, Grossmann and Packard struck out 13 batters in the win – the highest single-game total by the Crusader pitching staff this year.
- Six different Crusaders picked up hits in the opener, while Stauffenberg reached base in both of her plate appearances with a single and a walk.
- Lawson swiped her 23rd base of the year in the opener, matching her total from the 2016 season, which is tied for fifth-most in a single season in program history. She now ranks third all-time at Valpo in steals (68), sixth in runs scored (115) and seventh in hits (180) – just two shy of sixth.
- Trepanier went 2-for-3 in the nightcap to finish off a three-hit day. Boyle reached base twice in the nightcap as well.
- Stauffenberg matched a Valpo single-game record in the second game, throwing out a trio of NIU runners attempting to steal second. The senior erased NIU baserunners in the first, second and fifth innings. It was the second time in her career she has caught three runners stealing, but you have to go all the way back to opening weekend of her freshman year to find the other instance (at Mercer).
- Making her first start since March 17, sophomore Emily Richardson (Lake Zurich, Ill./River Forest) took the loss in the circle in the nightcap to fall to 4-2.
Valpo (24-22) heads to Normal, Ill. for the final regular season MVC series this weekend, facing off against Illinois State for three key games. The series opens with a noon doubleheader on Saturday, with both games slated for broadcast on The Valley on ESPN3.