Softball: VU wins a game, but falls in NCAA losers bracket
Post-Tribune staff report May 18, 2013 7:02PM
Valparaiso University's Amanda Wisniewski jacks a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to safely put away Central Michigan University during Valpo's 7-4 win over the Chippewas during their NCAA Softball Regional at the University of Michigan's Wilpon Softball Complex in Ann Arbor, Saturday, May 18. (Photo by Lon Horwedel/Special to the Post-Tribune)
Updated: June 20, 2013 4:50PM
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The season is over for Valparaiso’s softball team in its second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.
But the Crusaders didn’t go down without a fight. The won their first losers bracket game 7-4 over Central Michigan, with Amanda Wisniewski’s three-run home run in the top of the seventh sealing the deal.
The win advanced VU into another losers bracket game against California, but the Crusaders fell behind early and could never recover in a 6-0 loss.
On Friday, Valparaiso was shut out by regional host Michigan, so scoring seven runs in Saturday’s first game was a pleasant sight for coach Jordan Stevens.
“It was really nothing different,” he said. “We just swung the bats and made good contact today. We were able to get on the board early, so that helped us a lot with momentum.”
Wisniewski’s 3-run homer that also scored Hayley Bridwell and Angie Doerffler was huge in the first game since Central Michigan scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lake Central High graduate Kaitlyn Ranieri also scored a run in the game for the Crusaders.
And then came California about 30 minutes after the first game, and it was deja vu for the offense.
“It was almost identical to Michigan yesterday — we just weren’t able to get anything off the ground,” Stevens said. “We only ended up with one or two balls hit into the outfield. (California pitcher Jolene Henderson) hammered the strike zone and was so consistent with her spots that it made us tough to get anything going offensively. I like that we attacked more later in the game, because she was attacking so much. It was a struggle to get something going, but you have to give credit to (Henderson) because she’s a very, very good pitcher.”
All in all, the VU softball program took another step forward. After reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, the Crusaders won a game in the tourney for the first time. So the next goal is pretty simple.
“Obviously it’s great for the program and great for the players in the program to be able to have that experience,” Stevens said. “We want to continue to build on where we’ve gone the last couple years, but we also don’t want to be content with where we’re at. We want to keep get better and better — we want to make these tournament trips on a regular basis and try to get deeper and deeper into the tournament.”