Chris Halstead (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) tossed six shutout innings in game two to help Valpo salvage a split Saturday afternoon against Oakland, winning 3-1 after dropping the opener 3-2 at a frigid Valparaiso University Softball Field.
Halstead allowed only four hits and was never really threatened in her six innings of work, striking out three without walking a batter. The sophomore lowered her season ERA to 2.82 in the process, and notched her third victory.
The Crusaders picked up all the offense they would need in the fifth inning, getting an RBI single from Beth Adamski (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central) after Ann Sievert (Davenport, Iowa/Assumption) led off the inning with her second triple of the season. Megan Carroll (Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids) then drove home what would be the winning run with a single to centerfield.
Valpo padded their lead in the sixth thanks to some shrewd base-running. With Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) on third after her second double of the game and Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) on first thanks to an error, Ashburn broke for second. The throw from the catcher went through to the shortstop covering, and Robinson raced home with the third Crusader run.
Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) earned her third save despite allowing an unearned run in the seventh, and Laura Chomokos was saddled with the loss.
In the opener, Oakland brought thunder in the first inning against starter Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield). Chomokos doubled to lead off the game, and two batters later Camie Knorr put one over the fence in left-center to make it 2-0.
But Kelly settled in from there, and the Valpo bats started to warm up. Ashburn tallied the big blow in the second, hitting a long home run to straight-away center field off Chomokos, her team-high third long ball of the season.
The Crusaders then tied it in the fourth on a pair of Oakland errors. Taylor Callahan (Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) scored the equalizer when a potential double-play ball was thrown away by Golden Grizzly shortstop Julie Owen.
But in the Oakland seventh, the visitors got to Kelly again. The freshman surrendered a lead-off double to Owen and was quickly replaced by Zappia. After a sacrifice bunt moved Owen to third, Tosha Hodgkinson filed out to deep right field, plating the eventual winning run.
Kelly suffered the loss to fall to 3-5, while Chomokos, who pitched every inning in the series for the Golden Grizzlies (8-13, 2-2 Mid-Con), earned the win.
The Crusaders (10-14, 2-6 Mid-Con) will close out their eight-game homestand Tuesday against DePaul at the Valparaiso University Softball Field. The 2005 College World Series participants will play a pair against the Brown and Gold beginning at 3:00 p.m. and those games can be heard live on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.