The Valparaiso softball team set numerous program records on Saturday, earning its first victory of the season with a 24-1, run-rule shortened victory over Big East foe Seton Hall in Buies Creek, N.C. as part of Campbell’s Hampton Inn Invitational.
The Crusaders smashed their previous record for runs scored in a single game, besting by six runs the previous mark of 18, done twice previously – most recently at Detroit in April of 2010. Valpo also set a new program standard for margin of victory (23) and matched its best single-inning output in program history with 12 runs in the third inning. In addition, the Crusaders’ 21 hits also are a single-game high going back to 1998, the earliest program single-game records are available.
Individually, junior Tarah McShane (Streamwood, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) became the first Crusader player to register five hits in a game since at least 1998, going a perfect 5-for-5. McShane recorded four singles and a double out of the sixth spot in the batting order. Meanwhile, sophomore Janelle Bouchard (Kennebunk, Maine/Kennebunk), who drove in at least five runs in four separate games during her rookie season, set a new career high and matched Valpo’s record dating back to 1998 with seven RBIs, six of which came during the 12-run third frame.
After being shut out twice on the season’s opening day, the Crusaders wasted little time putting runs on the board on Saturday. Senior Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) and sophomore Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) drew back-to-back one-out walks in the top of the first, setting the stage for freshman Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), who belted her first career home run to give Valpo a 3-0 lead. Senior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) plated Bouchard with an RBI double later in the frame to make it 4-0 Crusaders after the first.
Valpo then put up a matching four-spot in the second inning as well. Doerffler would reach on a fielder’s choice before Ranieri connected on her first career home run, a two-run shot to push the lead to six runs. Stewart walked on four pitches, followed by a double by Bouchard to plate the freshman. With still only one out and the bases loaded three batters later, senior Kimberlin Wallace (Newton, Ill./Community [Lake Land C.C.]) delivered an RBI groundout to score Bouchard as the Crusaders led 8-0 after two innings.
As impressive as the output was offensively in the first two innings, the third inning topped both frames combined, as Valpo matched its program record with a 12-run inning. The first three batters of the inning reached on a single, a walk and an error, and Stewart picked up her fourth RBI with an infield single. Bouchard then blasted a grand slam to push the advantage to 13-0, the fourth grand slam of her career.
As the inning progressed, freshman Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro), batting in the leadoff spot, came up with the bases loaded and drove in a run thanks to a Seton Hall error. Doerffler followed with a two-run single for the seventh and eighth runs of the inning as the lead grew to 16-0. Ranieri pushed another run across with a fielder’s choice, and two batters later, Bouchard tallied her fifth and sixth RBIs of the frame with a double, scoring Ranieri and Stewart. An RBI double by McShane capped the 12-run inning as Valpo led 20-0 after its third time at bat.
Seton Hall cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a solo home run by Meredith Henze, but Valpo would add four more runs in the fifth to cap the scoring. Freshman Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) tallied her first career hit, knocking a single for her first career RBI to score Wisniewski. Lawson drove in a run after reaching on an error by the Pirates, while Doerffler finally closed the book on the scoring with a two-run single.
Five of the nine Crusader starters registered at least three hits, as Lawson, Doerffler and Stewart all posted three-hit nights to join McShane and Bouchard. Bouchard, Ranieri and Stewart all tied for team-high honors with four runs scored, while Stewart and Doerffler each drove in four runs as well. Doerffler drew two walks as well to reach base five times, while Wisniewski earned three free passes.
Not to be overlooked with the offensive explosion was the work of sophomore Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [Purdue North Central]) in the circle. Making her first career start at the Division I level, Lindeman had no problem with her Big East opponent on Saturday, going the distance for the victory. Lindeman surrendered just two hits and two walks over her five innings of work, needing just 60 pitches to record the 15 outs.
Valparaiso (1-2) looks to make it two straight wins to close the opening weekend of play as it takes on UMass Lowell on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. CT. Live stats will be available through ValpoAthletics.com.