The Valparaiso softball team cruised to victory in its tournament opener at the Buccaneer Invitational in Charleston, S.C. on Friday, scoring multiple runs in all five innings in a 16-1 run-rule victory over UNC Wilmington.
“Today we approached the game as we always should, and I was very pleased with the way we went about our at-bats and our aggressive nature on defense,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We need to keep the energy up for tomorrow.”
The Crusaders took the lead for good thanks to the long ball in the top of the first inning. Freshman Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) led off the game with a single and advanced to third with two outs. Sophomore Brittany Duncan (Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn) stepped up and connected on a full-count pitch, sending a two-run homer over the right-center field fence for a 2-0 Valpo lead.
Valpo then posted its biggest inning of the day with a five-run second frame. A two-run double from junior Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) plated junior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) and freshman Janelle Bouchard (Kennebunk, Maine/Kennebunk) to start the scoring, and a Ranieri single then scored redshirt junior Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist). Doerffler later scored on an error by the Seahawks, and Wisniewski capped the scoring in the inning by drawing a bases-loaded walk, her second free pass of the frame, to bring home fifth-year senior Joylyn Ichiyama (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) to make it 7-0 Crusaders.
Doerffler and senior Tori Brown (Harrison, Ohio/Harrison) both scored on a Wilmington error to give Valpo a nine-run lead in the third, and Duncan followed with her second two-run homer of the game to push the edge to 11-0. Then, in the fourth inning, Bouchard led off with a solo home run. Junior Kimberlin Wallace (Newton, Ill./Community [Lake Land C.C.]) contributed a pinch-hit RBI single to score Doerffler, and Ranieri came home on a sacrifice fly by Ichiyama, making it 14-0.
UNC Wilmington (6-8) scored its lone run of the game on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth, but Valpo capped the scoring with a two-run fifth inning. Doerffler picked up her third RBI of the game, driving in Wisniewski with a single, and a fielder’s choice scored Marinec with the game’s final run.
Freshman Taylor Weissenhofer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township) earned the win in the circle for the Crusaders to improve to 2-2 on the year, surrendering just two hits while striking out seven batters. Casey Rowland, the first of three Seahawk pitchers, fell to 3-4 with the loss, giving up seven runs in her two innings of work.
Duncan led the 13-hit Valpo attack, going 3-for-4 with five RBIs and two runs scored. Ranieri went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a pair of RBIs out of the leadoff spot, while Bouchard, Marinec and Doerffler all had multi-hit games out of the bottom third of the order. Doerffler also had three RBIs and three runs scored, while Wisniewski drew three walks in her four plate appearances.
Valparaiso (4-5) returns to action with a pair of games tomorrow. The Crusaders will take on #7/9 Tennessee at 10 a.m. CT before facing host Charleston Southern at 2 p.m. Live stats for both games will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.