The Valparaiso University softball team scored immediately in the first inning on Wednesday on a warm, sunny day at the Valpo Softball Complex, and junior pitcher Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) and the Valpo defense did the rest, as the Crusaders went on to a 4-0 victory over Fort Wayne in non-conference action.
How It Happened
- The combination of a freshman and a senior got the Crusaders out to the lead in their first time at bat. Freshman Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) lined a full-count pitch into shallow left to lead off the game, and three batters later, senior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) drove a ball to the wall in left for a run-scoring double.
- In the circle, Packard retired 11 of the first 12 Fort Wayne batters she faced, pitching around a leadoff walk in the second inning. The Mastodons recorded their first hit with a two-out single in the fourth, but the runner was later called out for leaving first base early.
- Valpo had a couple opportunities to add to its lead in the middle innings. Junior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) laid down a one-out bunt single in the third and subsequently stole both second and third bases, while in the fourth, junior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) and senior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) drew walks to put two on with two out. But the Crusaders would strand all three runners.
- A two-out walk for the Mastodons in the fifth was erased as Stauffenberg threw behind the Fort Wayne runner to pick her off and force a rundown for the final out of the inning. Then, in the sixth, Fort Wayne picked up back-to-back two-out base hits, but Packard snagged a sharp grounder back to the circle for the final out of the frame.
- Valpo loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth on consecutive singles from senior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) and freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll), followed by another free pass to Lawton. All three runners would score to push the lead to 4-0, as senior Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) connected on a sacrifice fly and Burke and sophomore Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) followed with back-to-back run-scoring infield singles.
- Packard faced perhaps her toughest situation of the game in the top of the seventh, surrendering two straight singles to open the inning. But with the four-run advantage, the junior regrouped, striking out the next two Fort Wayne batters before inducing a fly-out to right to close out the shutout.
Inside the Game
- It was a day of firsts for the Crusaders, starting with the first shutout in a Valpo uniform by Packard in the circle. She scattered five hits while striking out a season-best eight Fort Wayne hitters as she improved to 2-3 on the season.
- Burke hit in the leadoff position for Valpo for the first time in her career and delivered a 2-for-4 effort with a run scored and an RBI. The rookie is now tied for team-high honors with eight multi-hit games this season.
- In the field, Lawton started at second base for the first time as a Crusader, while Matalin earned the nod in center field for the first time as well.
- Offensively, Lawton reached base in all three of her plate appearances, drawing walks all three times – her second career three-walk game. Trepanier reached on three occasions as well, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
- The win moved the Crusaders back to .500 (3-3) at the Valpo Softball Complex this season, with 10 more home games upcoming over the next three weeks.
Valpo (17-16) is slated to travel to MVC-leading Drake for a three-game weekend series. All three games of the series are scheduled for broadcast on ESPN+.