Softball eager to continue streak


Junior Bryanna Phelan (12) slides to base during Saturday’s game agasist Western Michigan.

By Frank Gogola

Softball will put its four-game winning streak on the line in a midweek, non-conference doubleheader.

The Huskies (15-16) will take on the Valparaiso Crusaders (11-23) at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. today at the Valparaiso University Softball Field in Valparaiso, Ind.

The Crusaders are in the midst of a 15-game homestand in which they have gone 4-2.

While the Huskies bring with them a four-game winning streak, the Crusaders enter with their own three-game winning streak. The Crusaders swept the Detroit Titans in a three-game series Saturday and Sunday in Valparaiso.

“I think both teams’ offenses are going to score,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “They’re on their home turf and will be ready to go. It will come down to who eliminates the big inning.”

At the plate, Valparaiso is led by sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Ranieri, who is one of only three Crusaders to start all 34 games. Ranieri paces the Crusaders in batting average (.327), hits (33), runs scored (26) and walks (17).

In the circle, sophomore pitcher Taylor Weissenhofer has picked up seven of the Crusaders’ 11 wins. She is 7-5 with a 4.81 ERA, a 1.53 WHIP and a .280 opponents’ batting average.

The Huskies are coming off a 4-0 week. They swept North Dakota, 8-5 and 10-2, in a Wednesday doubleheader at Mary M. Bell Field and downed the Western Michigan Broncos, 10-1 and 6-1, over the weekend.

“The biggest challenge is the quick turnaround,” Sutcliffe said. “Playing a doubleheader can be tough on the body, especially with the travel on top. Valparaiso’s pretty close, so it won’t be that long of a trip, but we’ll come ready to play.”

During the four-game winning streak, junior pitcher Jessica Sturm picked up three wins and freshman pitcher Rebecca Rupard picked up the other victory. Sturm was named MAC West Pitcher of the Week.

“Both Jess and Becca are continuing to grow as pitchers,” Sutcliffe said. “Every inning, they’re getting better. The biggest thing for them is keeping the ball in [the] ballpark.”

At the plate, the Huskies were led by senior shortstop Shelby Miller, who was named MAC West Player of the Week. Miller went 7-for-11 with six runs scored and seven RBIs last week.

As a team, the Huskies posted 34 runs during their four-game winning streak.

“I think we can consistently score; we’re good enough offensively,” Sutcliffe said. “To do it every game is a little unrealistic, but we can do it more often than not. I think [today] will be a good test to see where we are.”