NKU Softball splits doubleheader with Valpo in high-hitting matchup

Northern Kentucky softball split the final two games in the series against Horizon League foe Valparaiso on Saturday afternoon. The Norse took game one in comeback fashion with a four-run sixth inning to win 12-9 before dropping the second game, 13-5. The Norse now sit at 6-18 overall and 1-2 in League action.

Game 1: NKU 12, Valparaiso 9

At the Plate

· The Norse out-hit the Crusaders 12 to 11. NKU is 4-1 on the season when it out-hits its opponent.
· Ava Lawson went 2-for-4 from the plate with a triple and a three-run home run to finish the game with 5 RBI.
· Paige McQueen went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two trips across the plate.

In the Circle

· Vega Theophilus replaced McQueen early in the first and ended up going 5.2 innings with giving up 4 runs on 7 hits. She moves to 2-2 overall.
· Ashlynn Roberts came in to pitch the seventh had a 1-2-3 inning to end the game and get the save.

Key Moments

· The Crusaders went up early courtesy of a three-run home run in the first inning and a two-run homer in the fourth.
· Lawson laced a triple to right field in the second inning, scoring Zahrya McFarland and Kara Meter. The triple was the first of the season for any Norse.
· In the bottom of the fifth, NKU was able to rally some hits, capped by Lawson’s three-run homer to knot the game at 8-8.
· Going into the bottom of the sixth, NKU trailed 9-8. The Norse were rolling as they had a four-run and five-hit inning to take their first lead of the game, 12-9, before Roberts retired the Crusaders in order in the seventh to hold on for the win.

Game 2: Valparaiso 13, NKU 5

At the Plate

· Valparaiso out-hit the Norse 14 to 10.
· Sydney Ferrante went 2-for-3 in the outing including a solo home run and a double.
· McQueen added a solo shot of her own, going 2-for-4 in game two with a team-leading two RBI.

In the Circle
· Roberts got her 12th start of the year. She went 3.2 innings, giving up eleven runs, nine earned. She added five strikeouts to her total of 17 for the series.
· Charlie Nolen took over for the final 3.1 innings. She gave up two runs with only one earned off of five hits.

Key Moments

· NKU took a 3-0 lead in the first two innings, sparked by strong hitting in the opening frame. Ferrante, McQueen and McFarland all recorded doubles in the first inning, with McQueen and McFarland driving in runs.
· Valpo erupted for six runs in the third inning, which featured a pair of two-run home runs to put the Crusaders up 6-3.
· McQueen answered back with her solo homer, but Valpo rattled off five runs in the next inning to extend a sizeable lead that would hold until the remainder of the contest.

Norse Notes

· The 12 runs plated in the first game are the most for the Norse all season. The previous season-high was eight runs, scored against both Dayton and UMass Lowell. It also marks the most runs scored in Division I competition.
· The opening game was also the first time that NKU has defeated Valparaiso since joining the Horizon League last season. The Norse are now 2-4 all-time versus the Crusaders with the other victory occurring in 1991.
· McQueen hit .545 for the series, going 6-for-11 with two doubles, a home run and five runs batted in.
· Ferrante also batted for a high percentage in the three-game stretch, going 5-for-10 with three doubles and a homer, leading the team in slugging percentage at 1.100.
· As a team, the Norse hit .341 against Valpo and added eight doubles and five home runs over the course of the series. NKU leads the Horizon League in doubles, with 39, eight more than the next team.

Up Next

· NKU will host No. 18/17 Kentucky on Wednesday, March 29, for a single game. First pitch against the Wildcats is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on the ESPN3 platform with Brady Laber on the call.

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Chloe Smith
Assistant Athletic Communications Director
Northern Kentucky University

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