The Valpo softball team plays against Mississippi State, Lipscomb, Missouri State and Drake throughout their season. According to the NCAA, Mississippi State, Lipscomb, Missouri State and Drake are all ranked in the 100 best softball teams in the country. The Crusaders have faced great odds against top division one schools and Drake is no exception.
The Bulldogs kept the Crusaders at bay offensively in game one, throwing a no-hitter over five innings. The Crusaders struck out 12 times and no one was walked. Freshman pitcher Taylor Knight started the game for the Crusaders and threw for 2.1 innings and gave up five hits, eight runs and seven walks. Junior relief pitcher Emily Richardson came in after to finish the game, giving up three hits, two runs, three walks and striking out three. The first game ended in five innings with a total score of 10-0.
Valpo, however, stalled Drake offensively the second game. The game was kept scoreless until the seventh inning when Drake’s left fielder hit a sacrifice fly with runners on second and third to score one run. Junior pitcher Jenna Edwards held the line at the Valpo Softball Complex, giving up three hits, one run, four walks and striking out seven. Offensively, the team was still left with no hits to go around but was able to strike out only eight times and draw out three walks, one each coming from senior in-fielder Carly Trepanier, senior in-fielder Jaymee Lawton and junior catcher Hannah Dybalski. The game ended with a score of 1-0 for Drake.
In the last game of the series against Drakes, Edwards started again but struggled in her five innings of pitching. Richardson came in the sixth to stop the bleeding but gave up three hits, resulting into five runs and giving up five walks. However, in the fourth inning, sophomore first baseman Brittany Anderson first drew a walk and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore third basemen Ashley Barker also walked from a nine-pitch at-bat. Dybalski came up to bat and hit a three-run homer over the left field fence. Her three RBI’s would be a career high.
“It was extremely, extremely motivating [to see Dybalski’s home run]. We kind of stuck to a certain approach the whole entire weekend, and it finally paid off with Hannah’s home run,” Trepanier said.
The following innings, Drake left Valpo scoreless, totaling a final score of 14-3.
“We played the top team in the conference and faced one of the best pitchers in the country. I thought we made better adjustments the second day. I thought our team fought and showed high character throughout all three of the games,” said head coach Kate Stake.
Regardless of the outcome, Stake knew that this series can’t weigh neither her nor the team down.
“It is not just about Drake -- our season isn’t just about a three-game series against Drake, and at the end of the day, we either build momentum or lose momentum based on how we play a game,” Stake said.
Skate is looking forward to the rest of the season.
“Ultimately, we want to get the best seating in the MVC tournament. Drake isn’t the ‘be-all’ end of our season; we have plenty of games left. We just finished our fourth conference series, and we have five more to go. So we focus on Drake in the present, and our performance against them doesn’t matter in the long run as long as we are learning from it, whether we win or lose,” Skate said.
“We just want to attack and beat them honestly,” Trepanier said.