For most students, spring break consists of some combination of two things: sleeping or thinking about sleeping. Some students probably also think about hanging out with friends or family too.
Bradley softball didn’t have a choice. The team hit the road last week, traveling to Springfield, Mo., Norman, Okla., Tulsa, Okla. and back to Springfield, before finally finishing the trip off in Evansville, In.
As long as it was, it was a productive trip for the Braves. They won five of the eight games played, including a sweep of Evansville, their first road Missouri Valley Conference sweep in a decade.
The road trip started with a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Missouri State Bears. The Braves jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but five hits, combined with a 5th inning error, led to five runs for the Bears (four earned). A passed ball led to the sixth run for the Bears, and Bradley couldn’t capitalize on opportunities late, despite having runners in scoring position each of the last three innings.
Later that day, senior pitcher Madeline Lynch-Crumrine placed the team squarely on her shoulders in a 4-0 win. She pitched a complete game, three-hit shutout while walking two and striking out four. Lynch-Crumrine also knocked in all four of Bradley’s runs with a grand slam in the third inning.
In doing so, Lynch-Crumrine became the first player in Bradley history to homer and pitch a complete game shutout in the same game. It was the third time in Lynch-Crumrine’s career she picked up the win and homered in the same game.
Lynch-Crumrine also started the Braves’ next game against the defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners. It didn’t go as well. She took the loss, giving up eight runs (six earned) in the six inning, 8-0 loss. Things didn’t go much better for the Braves the next day, with the team falling to a ranked Tulsa team 8-2.
Bradley returned to Missouri March 20 and defeated the Bears 5-4. Alyson Spinas-Valainis made her debut in the pitching circle for the Braves. She entered the game with the bases loaded before striking out a batter and getting a game-ending pop-up.
Spinas-Valinas and the Braves finished off their long road trip in style, taking all three games from the Evansville Purple Aces March 22-23.
Crumrine had another impressive game overall in the first game of the doubleheader. She went 4-4 from the plate and knocked in six of the Braves’ 10 runs. In the circle, she pitched another complete game, giving up just one run on six hits, leading the Braves to a 10-1 win.