When senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday afternoon at the Valpo Softball Complex, the pressure was off. After all, how could a two-out, bases loaded at-bat trailing by one faze Trepanier when earlier in the day, she had passed the nursing NCLEx prep test required for graduation?
So even after falling behind in the count 0-2, Trepanier stayed calm. After watching two balls go by, the senior lined a 2-2 pitch through the left side of the infield to plate the tying and game-winning runs as Valpo rallied for a 4-3 walk-off win Wednesday over Western Michigan in non-conference action.
How It Happened
- Western Michigan jumped on top early, scoring two runs with two outs in the first as the Broncos picked up four base hits in the opening frame.
- Following the Broncos’ second run of the inning, pitcher Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) recorded the final out of the frame, starting a stretch in which she would retire 13 of the next 15 WMU batters.
- Valpo cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third. Freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) reached on a WMU error and moved up to second as junior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) drew a full-count walk. Freshman Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) stepped in and drove a 2-2 pitch the opposite way to the left-center gap to score Westphal and make it a 2-1 game.
- The Broncos scored what looked like it might be a key insurance run on a two-out RBI single from Sophia Ehlers in the top of the sixth.
- Still trailing by two runs entering the bottom of the seventh, junior Hannah Dybalski (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) led off with a double to left-center, hustling to slide into second ahead of the relay. Freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) followed by sending the first pitch she faced right back up the middle for a base hit, putting runners on the corners.
- Pinch-hitter Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) then knocked a grounder to the WMU shortshop, but the fielder was unable to corral the ball as the bases ended up loaded on the error. With the infield in, Westphal connected on a single through the 5-6 hole to score Dybalski and cut the deficit to 3-2.
- With the bases still loaded and nobody out, the Broncos went to the bullpen, and it looked like reliever Sydney Stefanick might escape the jam for a bit, as she struck out the first Valpo batter she faced and then induced a grounder for a force at the plate for the second out.
- But Trepanier’s heroics were waiting. With the infield again drawn in, the senior lined that 2-2 pitch through the left side. With the speedy Westphal being on second as the potential game-winning run, head coach Kate Stake aggressively sent her with the WMU left fielder playing somewhat shallow, and the call paid off. The throw was well up the line and Westphal easily slid in to give the Crusaders the walk-off victory.
Inside the Game
- The win was Valpo’s first in walk-off fashion since a 2-1 home win over Bradley last season on April 28. Ironically, it was a Trepanier base hit which led to the game-winning run in that contest as well.
- It also was Valpo’s first victory when trailing after six innings since rallying from a 3-0 deficit entering the seventh to force extras in an eventual 4-3 win at Cleveland State on April 14, 2017.
- Valpo has now won six consecutive non-conference games dating back to the victory over NC State on March 5.
- Westphal and Trepanier both concluded Wednesday’s game with multiple hits, while Westphal scored two runs as well.
- In the circle, Edwards scattered nine singles in the complete-game victory as she improved to 5-12 on the season. She didn’t give up a single walk in the winning effort, the first time in 12 starts this season she has issued no walks and the first time she has pitched more than two innings without surrendering a base on balls.
Valpo (13-22) continues a five-game homestand as it hosts Indiana State in MVC play this weekend. The three-game series has been adjusted to start on Friday with a single game at 2 p.m.