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By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GreenBayPhoenix.com

VALPARAISO, Ind. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay softball team concluded its Indiana road trip with a stop at Horizon League preseason favorite Valparaiso to open conference play, where the Phoenix went 1-2 in the three-game series. With the first conference series in the books, Green Bay’s record stands at 7-14 and 1-2 in the Horizon League while the Crusaders improved to 15-12 overall and 2-1 in league play.

Game 1: Green Bay 3, Valparaiso 2

The Phoenix won its first Horizon League contest of the 2013 campaign with a 3-2 win over the host Crusaders. After holding a 3-0 lead heading into the home half of the sixth inning, Green Bay gave up two runs but held on for the key win.

Green Bay got on the board first in the top of the fourth with two outs as freshman Alyssa Johnson belted a two-run shot over the right field fence, her second homer of the season. In the next inning, senior Jess Hrncar (Bristol, Wis.) hit a one-out triple before junior Stacey Butts (Greenfield, Wis.) brought her home on a double to extend the lead to 3-0.

With the help of two solo home runs in the bottom of the sixth, Valparaiso came within a run but couldn’t overcome an impressive effort on the mound from senior Allison Goecks (Beloit, Wis.). Goecks (3-5) pitched a complete game with seven hits, two earned runs, six strikeouts and a walk.

Hrncar led the way on a 3-4 day at the plate with a run scored, while Johnson was 1-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Stacey Butts finished 1-4 with an RBI.

Game 2: Valparaiso 11, Green Bay 3 (Five innings)

In game two, the first contest of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon, Green Bay couldn’t overcome a 7-0 deficit Valparaiso built after the third inning before falling 11-3 in five innings.

The Crusaders scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the second to build a 3-0 lead, and tacked on four more runs in the home half of the third inning to make it 7-0.

The Phoenix got on the board in the top of the fourth after a bases-loaded triple from freshman Kelli Hutchinson (Milwaukee, Wis.), but the three runs would be all the visiting team could manage to score.

After Green Bay was able to tag two runners out at the plate in the bottom of the fourth, a single up the middle gave the host team two more runs to make it 9-3. In the bottom of the fifth, another two-out single up the middle gave Valparaiso two more runs to seal the 11-3 final score.

Hutchinson made her one plate appearance count as the frosh went 1-1 with three RBIs, while Stacey Butts went 1-3 with a run scored. Freshman Marissa Michalkiewicz (Appleton, Wis.) went 1-2 while scoring a run.

Freshman Briana Cavin (Elk Grove Village, Ill.) took the loss (2-4) after pitching two innings with seven hits, five earned runs, two strikeouts and two walks.

Game 3: Valparaiso 5, Green Bay 2 (Nine innings)

The series came to a close in heartbreaking fashion as Valparaiso used a walk-off homer with two outs to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 5-2 win.

The Phoenix struck first in the top of the second inning with a two-out homer from sophomore Miranda Spangberg (Wausau, Wis.), her team-best third of the season. Green Bay’s other Miranda in junior Miranda Reinke (Milwaukee, Wis.) made it 2-0 with a long ball of her own to lead off the top of the third.

Valparaiso answered in the ensuing half inning with a leadoff homer and later an RBI single to tie things up at 2-2. Neither team would score in the final three frames, forcing the contest to head to extra innings.

The Phoenix sent the first two batters of the inning back to the dugout to leave the bases empty with two outs, but back-to-back walks gave Valparaiso power hitter Brittany Duncan runners at first and second. She connected on a shot to center field, sealing the 5-2 win with her three-run, walk-off homer.

Goecks put in five impressive innings of work with seven hits, two earned runs, a walk and six strikeouts. Cavin (2-5) was given the loss after allowing just two hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Reinke finished 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Spangberg went 1-3 with a run, RBI and a walk.

NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: Green Bay will travel to play UIC on Wednesday, April 3 and Thursday, April 4 before playing its home opener against Cleveland State on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7.

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For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com

Follow us on Twitter: @GBPhoenix, @GBPhoenixSB and @JustinGrones

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