The Valparaiso University softball team opened its home slate at the Valpo Softball Complex Friday by splitting a pair of slugfests against Southern Illinois in MVC play. Sophomore Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) delivered the decisive blow with a sixth-inning home run for a 7-6 Valpo victory in the opener, while SIU rallied from a three-run deficit to deal the Crusaders a 9-6 defeat in the nightcap.
How It Happened – Game One
- SIU jumped out to a 3-0 lead with two runs in the first and one in the second, all of which scored with two outs.
- Valpo cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the second. Senior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) and freshman Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) both lined 1-2 pitches the other way into the opposite gap for doubles, the latter plating pinch-runner Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley).
- SIU responded with a Megan Brown solo homer in the top of the third to make it a 4-1 game, but the Crusaders would put up a crooked number in their half of the inning to take the lead. Stauffenberg stepped up with the bases loaded and nobody out and delivered a two-run single to cut the deficit to one run.
- Two batters later, Burke turned on a pitch and sent it down the right-field line for her second double of the game, evening the score at 4-4. Senior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) followed by battling through a nine-pitch at-bat, eventually lofting a sacrifice fly into deep right field to bring home Stauffenberg and give Valpo the 5-4 lead.
- The lead would last just three pitches, however, as Kyleigh Decker led off the SIU fourth with a solo homer. Later in the frame, sophomore Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) entered in relief and recorded a key strikeout with the bases loaded to keep it a tie game. SIU would score an unearned run in its next turn at bat, however, to regain the advantage, 6-5.
- Valpo answered in the bottom of the fifth, however, again with Stauffenberg spearheading the effort. The senior drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the inning and came around to score on Callaghan’s second sacrifice fly of the game – this one to medium-deep center field.
- SIU threatened in the top of the sixth, getting runners to second and third with one out, but again Richardson registered a huge strikeout to keep it a 6-6 game.
- With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Matalin took two pitches before launching a 1-1 offering deep over the fence in left-center for her second homer in as many weekends.
- With the one-run advantage, Richardson took to the circle in the top of the seventh and retired the Salukis in order, closing out the win with a strikeout.
How It Happened – Game Two
- Much like SIU did in game one, the Crusaders jumped on top right away in game two. Junior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) led off the bottom of the first with a double, and three batters later, Stauffenberg pulled a run-scoring double to left field. Freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) followed with a shot to the gap for an RBI double as well.
- Valpo added a single run in the second, scoring a leadoff base hit for the second straight inning. Callaghan beat out an infield single, moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt and a subsequent error, and then crossed the plate on a successful squeeze from Matalin.
- After retiring the side in order in each of the first two innings, senior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) faced trouble but escaped unscathed in the third – when SIU loaded the bases with two outs – and in the fourth – when the Salukis put runners on the corners with one away.
- The Salukis moved to within one run in the fifth inning with a pair of tallies, as two nice defensive plays from Matalin kept SIU from inflicting any further damage. The sophomore snagged a sinking liner from Susie Baranski at her shoelaces with one out in the inning, and then later in the inning – with two runs already in – Matalin threw a perfect strike home to cut down an SIU baserunner attempting to score.
- Junior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) delivered what looked like it might be a key insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, skying a solo homer down the left-field line to push Valpo’s advantage to 4-2.
- SIU exploded for six runs in the top of the sixth, including a three-run homer from Savannah Fisher which gave the Salukis the lead and a two-run shot from Katelyn Massa to make it an 8-4 game.
- Valpo looked to respond immediately, loading the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth. Pinch-hitter Taylor Bowman (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) delivered a sacrifice fly to make it a three-run game, and Matalin followed with a full-count single the other way to bring the Crusaders within 8-6.
- Valpo was unable to score any further in the sixth, however, and SIU capped the scoring with a solo homer from Sydney Jones to lead off the seventh.
Inside the Games
- Valpo hit at a .400 clip for the day, recording 10 base hits in each of the two games. The Crusaders had not reached double digits in the hits column since a March 4 win over UNLV, while their seven runs in the win in the opener were the most since a 10-run output against Princeton earlier that same day.
- Seven different Crusaders tallied multiple hits on the day, led by a four-hit effort from Burke. The freshman was a perfect 3-for-3 in the opener with a pair of runs driven in, including two doubles after entering the day with just one extra-base hit on the season.
- Matalin, Stauffenberg and Trepanier all finished up with three hits as well – all three players tallied two hits in the opener before picking up a base knock in the nightcap.
- Matalin’s home run was the third of her career – all of which have come in the sixth inning or later. The sophomore hit a walk-off homer in the eighth inning last May against Wright State, and just last weekend, extended a one-run lead to three with a two-run homer in the seventh inning in the Crusaders’ win at Missouri State.
- In addition to their three hits, Stauffenberg walked twice as well to reach base a team-best five times on the day. The senior scored three runs as well over the two games, surpassing her season total of two runs scored entering the day.
- Lawton’s home run was her 10th of the year, just the seventh double-figure effort in the category in program history. She continues to pace all MVC players in round-trippers.
- Callaghan became just the second player in program history to record two sacrifice flies in a single game – a feat which was only previously accomplished by Brittany Atteberry in the 2002 season.
- Richardson picked up the win to improve to 3-1 in the opener with 3.1 innings of work out of the bullpen, surrendering just a lone unearned run while striking out five SIU hitters. The sophomore inherited a pair of runners in the fourth and stranded both on base, improving to 18-of-20 inherited runners left on base this season.
- Grossmann took the loss in the nightcap, falling to 9-6 as she gave up six runs in five-plus innings of work.
Valpo (15-14, 3-5 MVC) looks to conclude its three-game series with Southern Illinois tomorrow at 11 a.m., with live stats and audio available for the series finale. With potential inclement weather in the forecast, ValpoAthletics.com and the softball program’s social media accounts will have any updates on the game’s start time.