Valpo Softball saw its 2019 season come to a close on Thursday afternoon in the second round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in Peoria, Ill., as Illinois State downed the Brown and Gold by a 4-1 final to knock Valpo out of the single-elimination tournament.
How It Happened
- The Redbirds took the lead with a run in their first time at the plate, as Allison Spence blooped a wind-aided single into shallow right-center to score Shannon Felde.
- Senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) worked a leadoff walk in the top of the second and eventually moved over to third with two outs, but couldn’t make it the final 60 feet to tie the game.
- A game which featured a number of strong plays from the Valpo defense saw two of them come in the bottom of the second inning. Pitcher Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) snagged a line drive back up the middle and threw to first to complete a double play. Later in the inning, with the wind playing tricks with fly balls, freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) made a nice sliding catch in shallow right field for the final out of the frame.
- Valpo threatened in the fourth, with freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) recording a one-out infield single and Lawton following with her second walk of the game. But the next two Crusaders both struck out to keep it a 1-0 game.
- Illinois State scored what proved to be key insurance runs in the fifth, loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter and then scoring three runs on back-to-back two-out singles to push its lead to 4-0.
- The insurance runs proved vital because senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) stepped to the plate with one out in the top of the sixth and sent a solo shot over the fence in left-center, cutting the Redbird advantage to 4-1.
- Lawton recorded a two-out single later in that inning, but a strikeout ended the frame.
- Herschbach recorded what proved to be the final defensive out of the season for Valpo with a highlight-reel play, laying out to her left to snare a line drive destined for center field.
- Trailing by three entering their final turn at the plate, the Crusaders went down in order in the seventh as their season came to an end.
Inside the Game
- Trepanier’s home run was her fifth of the season, tying her with Lawton for team-high honors this year.
- One day after going 4-for-4 at the plate, Herschbach went 1-for-3 in the season finale to finish the tournament with a team-high five hits.
- Lawton reached base in all three plate appearances in her final game in a Valpo uniform, drawing a pair of walks to go with her sixth-inning single.
- Just 17 hours after completing a 148-pitch shutout, Edwards tossed 104 pitches in her 12th complete game of the season, giving up just seven hits.
- Edwards and sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) teamed up for Valpo’s 19th double play of the year, six of which came in the season’s final six games.
- Freshman catcher Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) tallied three putouts on Thursday and finished her rookie season with 186 putouts, 19 assists and just one error. Her .995 fielding percentage is tied for the sixth-best in a single season in program history.
- While Westphal didn’t pick up a base hit on Thursday, she did close the season with Valpo’s best batting average, becoming just the program’s third freshman in the last 18 years to lead the Crusaders in average as a rookie.
Inside the Careers
- Thursday’s loss brings the Valpo careers of Lawton and Trepanier to an end as well.
- In her three years in the Brown and Gold, Lawton started in all 145 of her appearances and closed her career tied for seventh in program history in walks (64), eighth in home runs (21), eighth in assists (327) and 10th in slugging percentage (.489)
- Meanwhile, Trepanier appeared in 200 games and made 196 starts, including 191 consecutively to end her Crusader career. She ranks fourth in program history in triples (10), fifth in hits (193) and total bases (272), eighth in on-base percentage (.387), ninth in batting average (.312) and 10th in runs scored (100), walks (63) and stolen bases (28).
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“This team made me so proud this week at the tournament. I had so many comments from other Valley coaches, or from on-lookers both live or from watching on ESPN, who were impressed by how this team carried themselves, how they competed, how clearly they loved playing together. I'm proud of them for wrapping up this season with their hearts on their sleeves and knowing they left it all out on the field.”
“Anytime ESPN cut to our dugout, or anytime anyone in person looked over, they'd have no idea if we were winning or losing. And defensively, both the chatter and the focus were on point, first inning or last, up five or down four. They just...they played. It was fun to be around that energy. It was a privilege to be a part of it.”
“Jenna had two gutsy performances in the circle for us this weekend. She played ten feet tall out there and our defense played all-out because she led from the circle that way. She's been a fantastic addition to the team this year.”
“Jaymee and Carly have left their respective marks on this program. I am proud of both of them for their commitment to leadership and stewardship within this program. I am so grateful they chose to wear the Brown and Gold with us.”