One big swing from senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) and a strong effort in the circle from junior Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) lifted the Valpo softball team to a 5-2 victory over Missouri State in the nightcap Monday at the Valpo Softball Complex. The win was the 100th in the head coaching career of Kate Stake. The two squads split Monday’s twinbill, as Missouri State pitcher Steffany Dickerson threw a no-hitter in the Bears’ 6-0 win in the opener.
How It Happened – Game One
- The Bears scored the only run they would need on a two-out RBI single in the top of the first.
- Valpo’s first nine batters of the game were retired in order. Senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) worked a one-out walk in the fifth, but neither runner made it into scoring position.
- Missouri State scored its final five runs in the sixth, as 10 Bears batters came to the plate in the inning.
How It Happened – Game Two
- Both teams had infield singles in the first erased at second base – Missouri State on a caught stealing, and Valpo on a double play.
- The Bears got another infield single in the second, and the runner made her way to third on a stolen base and a passed ball with two outs. But Edwards came up with a big strikeout to keep the game scoreless.
- The bottom of the third inning proved to be the vital frame in the nightcap. Sophomore Ashley Barker (Coal Valley, Ill./Moline) led off the inning with a four-pitch walk, and a subsequent MSU error allowed Barker to advance and Anderson to reach base.
- A sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, and back at the top of the order, Trepanier drew a walk to load the bases with one away.
- An infield grounder forced the lead runner at home for the second out, but with the bases still loaded, freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) worked the count full and then fouled off a pair of pitches before watching ball four go by, scoring Anderson with the game’s first run.
- The first six batters of the inning had combined to see 25 pitches, but Lawton wasted no time with her plate appearance. The senior jumped on the first pitch she saw and drove it the other way over the fence in right-center for a grand slam, staking Valpo to a 5-0 lead.
- Edwards pitched around a leadoff walk in the fourth and a two-out walk in the fifth, keeping both runners stranded at first base.
- MSU’s Kyana Mason connected on a solo homer to lead off the top of the sixth, cutting Valpo’s lead to 5-1. The Bears would get two runners on with two out, but a grounder back to the circle kept the lead at four runs.
- Missouri State had one final rally, loading the bases with one out in the seventh. An RBI single advanced all the runners 60 feet, making it a three-run game and bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate, still with one out. But Edwards bore down to record her 10th strikeout of the contest for the second out, and then a grounder to Barker at third closed out the win.
Inside the Games
- Edwards had the strongest effort of her Valpo career against a Missouri State squad which entered the doubleheader ranked 57th in the latest NCAA RPI. She went the distance in the circle for her second complete game of the year, scattering five hits and striking out a season-best 10 batters to improve to 3-6.
- Meanwhile, one big swing from Lawton is what Valpo fans have been accustomed to over the last three seasons. The home run was the 21st of her Valpo career, just one shy of sixth in program history.
- It was the first grand slam by a Crusader since Lawton herself knocked one out with the bases loaded at Charleston Southern on Feb. 16 of last season.
- Valpo tallied just two hits in the nightcap, but it proved to be enough for the win – the first win for the program when picking up two or fewer base knocks since the first round of the Horizon League Championship in 2017, a 1-0 win over Oakland with two hits.
- It also was the first time Valpo scored at least two runs on two or fewer hits since posting four runs on two hits at USC Upstate in March of 2016.
- Monday’s games marked the first time the Crusaders played on Monday since the 2015 season.
- Junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) took the hard-luck loss in the opener, as she gave up just one run on three hits over four innings before exiting due to injury. MSU’s Steffany Dickerson went the distance for the no-hitter.
- 10 of Valpo’s last 12 games have come against teams ranked in the top-100 of the NCAA’s latest RPI release, with the Brown and Gold owning a 4-6 record in those games.
- Stake becomes the third coach in program history to reach 100 wins at Valpo.
Valpo (11-14, 2-6 MVC) steps out of conference play Wednesday afternoon for a 4 p.m. first pitch at former Horizon League rival UIC.