As has become the norm for the Valparaiso University softball team on Senior Day in recent years, the Crusaders came out after honoring their senior class prior to the games and swept a doubleheader from Bradley, walking off with a 2-1 win in game one and downing the Braves by a 4-1 final in game two.
How It Happened – Game One
- Bradley got a runner to third with two outs in the top of the first before junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) came up with a big strikeout to keep the Braves off the board.
- Valpo claimed the lead in the bottom of the third. Sophomore Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) knocked a soft single through the left side to lead off the inning. She would advance to third on a walk and a groundout, and with two outs, freshman Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) hit a grounder to the backhand of the Bradley second baseman and beat the throw to first by a step as Matalin scored the game’s first run.
- Much like the first inning, Bradley advanced a runner to third with two outs in the fourth, but again Packard recorded a strikeout to strand the runner 60 feet from home.
- It looked like the Braves would even the game in the fifth inning on a single into left field with two outs, but with Gabby Stoner rounding third attempting to score, Matalin fired a perfect strike home to senior Jenna Stauffenberg (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara), who applied the tag to keep it a 1-0 game.
- Bradley’s Maria Schroeder led off the top of the sixth with a shot to center through a stiff breeze blowing in for a solo homer, tying the game at 1-1.
- After the Crusaders went down in order in the bottom of the sixth and Bradley was retired in order in the top of the seventh, Valpo came to bat looking to walk off with the win. Matalin took an 0-2 pitch the other way to reach with a one-out single.
- A fielder’s choice put senior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) on first with two outs for Trepanier. The junior drilled a single through the right side of the infield, and Callaghan made a hard turn and headed for third. After a momentary bobble, the Braves’ right fielder made a throw which eluded the cutoff and rolled into the center of the infield. The errant throw was easily enough for Callaghan to continue running all the way home with the game-winning run as the Crusaders celebrated at home plate.
How It Happened – Game Two
- Bradley threatened immediately in the top of the first, as a walk and a hit batter put two on base with nobody out. But the Crusaders turned a 6-4-3 double play on the Braves’ three hitter, and a grounder back to senior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) in the circle got the Crusaders out of the first.
- Valpo claimed the lead in its first turn at bat. Trepanier continued her strong day at the plate with a leadoff single, moving up to second on a Bradley error. With two outs, Trepanier was on third when freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) delivered a run-scoring single back up the middle to make it 1-0 Valpo.
- The Crusaders looked to add to their lead in the bottom of the third, as fifth-year senior Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) doubled to the left-center gap – a ball which just eluded the Bradley center fielder’s diving effort – with one out and then stole third base. Lawson would be stranded on third, however.
- For the second time in the game, Valpo turned two behind Grossmann in the fourth inning, as a first-pitch leadoff single was quickly erased by a first-pitch 6-3 twin killing.
- Bradley tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the fifth, as back-to-back two-out Valpo errors were followed by a run-scoring double by Elizabeth Leonard. With two in scoring position and two outs, however, Grossmann got a grounder to Trepanier to get out of the inning having allowed just the one tally.
- Valpo would put together a decisive two-out rally of its own in the bottom of the fifth. Trepanier started things with a triple to the right-field wall, and Lawson followed up with a sharp liner into left to make it 2-1. A hit batter and a walk loaded the bases, and what looked to be a routine infield pop-up dropped out of the glove of the Braves’ shortstop, allowing two runs to score as the Crusaders led 4-1.
- Both teams had chances to score in the sixth. Bradley got the potential tying run to the plate with two outs before a grounder to first left two runners on. In the bottom half of the frame, Stauffenberg drove a leadoff double to the gap in right-center, but the lead would remain at 4-1 entering the seventh.
- The Braves got a leadoff infield single in the seventh, but couldn’t get a second runner aboard with three straight grounders closed out the sweep.
Inside the Games
- Prior to the start of the doubleheader, Valpo’s seniors – Callaghan, Grossmann, Lawson, Stauffenberg, Brenna Boyle (St. John, Ind./Andrean), Ashlyn Montgomery (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon), Stephanie Moreno (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) and Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) – were honored during Senior Day ceremonies and recognized for their contributions to the Crusader program.
- Valpo improved to a perfect 7-0 on Senior Day over the last four years.
- Saturday’s victories came in the first-ever meetings between Valpo and Bradley on one of the two teams’ home fields. All five previous matchups were neutral-site affairs.
- The pair of wins give Valpo a season-best four-game winning streak. The Crusaders have also given up three or fewer runs in each of their last nine games, surrendering just two runs total on Saturday to a Bradley team which entered the day averaging nearly six runs/game in Valley play.
- Valpo now sits in a tie for sixth place with the other conference results on Saturday and enters Sunday just one game out of third.
- Trepanier enjoyed another stellar day at the plate, going 5-for-7 over the pair of wins with a walk and two runs scored. The junior was a perfect 3-for-3 in the opener, her second three-plus hit game in the last week, before tallying a pair of knocks in the nightcap.
- Trepanier’s triple in the second game was her MVC-best fifth of the year, tying her for second in a single season in Valpo program history. She now owns nine career three-baggers, tied for fourth in the Crusader record book.
- Matalin joined Trepanier with a multi-hit game – her seventh multi-hit effort of the year – in the opener, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
- Packard enjoyed yet another stellar outing in the circle to pick up the victory in the opener and improve to 4-5 on the season, tossing a complete-game six-hitter and striking out seven while walking nobody. The junior has now struck out 48 batters in 36 1/3 inning over her last six outings and owns a 1.35 ERA in that time frame.
- Lawson was a perfect 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt in the nightcap out of the two spot in the order. She picked up her first double of the year and swiped her MVC-best 22nd bag of the season on the basepaths.
- Grossmann surrendered no earned runs in throwing a complete-game five-hitter to improve to 12-10 in the second win of the day. After walking the first hitter of the game, she would not give up another free pass the rest of the game and moved into Valpo’s career top-10 in strikeouts as well during the win.
- The defense behind Grossmann turned a pair of double plays to help the winning effort. After recording just eight double plays in the first 40 games of the year, the Crusaders have now turned four double plays in the last three games.
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“We've hit a good stride. and it started with a hard-fought loss against Evansville last Sunday. Even though we dropped it, we generated some good momentum leading into Loyola and continued to ride that wave against Bradley today. Our team has competed hard against some very good Valley competition all season; I'm happy some of these close games lately have broken our way.”
“Our pitching continues to give us a chance against everyone, our defense has settled into a good rhythm as of late, and our hitters have been doing a good job of playing to their strengths and, most importantly to their success, PLAYING instead of WORKING their at bats. Whether the game is tight or not, whether we are up or down on the scoreboard, it's evident they're out there having fun and playing loose. When they find that rhythm together, they are very good.”
“Most of these seniors came in the same year I did, and it has been a pleasure to be alongside them in their growth as softball players, as students, and as people. I'm proud of them for who they've become over the past four years. I'm happy for them; winning a conference tournament, receiving presidential academic honors, falling in love with a career path, forming life-long relationships. And above all, I am impressed by this group. Impressed by their contribution to this program. Impressed by their ownership of the brown and gold. Impressed by the job offers they have either received or already accepted, even prior to graduating. This is a group who found success on and off the field, but whose greater successes are out on the horizon after they receive that Valpo degree. These are bright, special people who are going to be such excellent alumni representatives of this program and our university. It's been an honor to coach them and spend so much time with them over their careers here, and I will miss them very, very much.”
Valpo (22-21, 9-12 MVC) looks to close out its first three-game sweep of a Missouri Valley Conference series on Sunday morning. First pitch of the series finale between the Crusaders and Bradley is slated for 11 a.m.