Softball swept by Valpo, ending streak


Senior Nicole Gremillion runs to second base during a game against Bowling Green March 29. Softball lost both games of a doubleheader against Valpariaso Tuesday.

By Frank Gogola

Softball entered Valparaiso, Ind., on a four-game winning streak but left with a pair of losses.

The Huskies (15-18) dropped the doubleheader opener against the Valparaiso Crusaders (13-23), 8-6, Tuesday at the Valparaiso University Softball Field in Valparaiso, Ind. They lost the second game, 4-3, in extra innings.

Game one

Despite jumping out to a 4-0 lead after three innings at the plate, the Huskies were done in by a six-run fourth inning and were unable to rebound from an 8-4 deficit in the final three innings.

Valparaiso chased freshman pitcher Becca Rupard after she gave up two singles following a three-run home run that put the Crusaders ahead, 5-4, in the fourth inning. Rupard gave up a two-run home run in the third inning and was tagged for seven runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings.

Junior Allyson Hecht came on in relief and walked three batters, gave up one single and allowed three runs, two of which were credited to Rupard.

“We definitely needed to get out of that, no questions asked,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “Becca was getting hit hard. Ally came in after [Becca] and struggled to find the zone, but she settled in after that inning.”

Trailing 8-4 after four innings, NIU got two runs back when Rupard, who moved to third base after being pulled from the circle, doubled to left-center field. Rupard’s two-run double knocked out Valparaiso pitcher Taylor Weissenhofer after she gave up six runs on seven hits in four-plus innings.

Sophomore Mollie Lindeman, who replaced Weissenhofer, didn’t allow any runs on three hits in the final three innings.

Trailing 8-6, junior Jessica Sturm struck out with runners on first and second to end the game. The Huskies struck out 11 times, all swinging.

“Their pitcher struck out way too many of our batters,” Sutcliffe said. “We either hit it all or missed it all, nothing in between. … She just got us chasing. We were chasing way too much. The adjustments we made weren’t the correct adjustments, and she got the better of us.”

Game two

Tied 2-2 after seven innings, freshman first baseman Kayti Grable gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead with a solo home run to left field in the top of the eighth; however, Valparaiso’s Janelle Bouchard launched a two-run, walk-off home run to center field in the bottom of the eighth, and the Huskies lost, 4-3, in extra innings.

“Kayti got a pitch up in the zone,” Sutcliffe said. “She hit it a mile, and you just knew it was gone.

“Their batter got a good pitch to hit, too. [Valparaiso] just happened to have someone on [base].”

The Huskies and Crusaders battled back and forth early on. The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Jordyn Bowen single.

The Crusaders tied the game, 1-1, on a sacrifice fly in the second inning. In the third inning, they took a 2-1 lead on a bases-loaded RBI single.

NIU tied the game, 2-2, in the fourth when sophomore catcher Emily Naegele drove in senior shortstop Shelby Miller with an RBI double.

Following the 2-2 tie, the game remained scoreless until the extra inning.

“Both pitchers did a good job at making pitches that counted throughout the game,” Sutcliffe said.

The Huskies loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh, but junior right fielder Bryanna Phelan hit an infield fly and senior left fielder Nicole Gremillion struck out looking to end the inning. They left five runners on base in the sixth and seventh inning.

“We should have won it in the seventh inning,” Sutcliffe said. “… We’ve done a good job [at the plate] with two outs this season. [Tuesday], we didn’t execute.”