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Valpo Takes Series Opener Against Wright State
Jordan Rutkowski tied Valpo's career RBI record Wednesday. (Ray Acevedo)
Jordan Rutkowski tied Valpo's career RBI record Wednesday. (Ray Acevedo)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Junior Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) tied Valparaiso's career RBI record with a fourth-inning single, and an insurance run in the sixth inning proved vital as the Crusaders earned a 2-1 victory Wednesday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field in the opener of a three-game series with Wright State.

The Crusaders and Raiders, who were originally scheduled to play a doubleheader, were in danger of not being able to play at all Wednesday after heavy overnight rains soaked the field.  But with work being done on the playing surface all day, the field was prepped into playable condition for a single game late in the afternoon, allowing Valpo to earn the key Horizon League victory.  The scheduled twinbill between the two squads will now be played Thursday afternoon.

“We came into today with the mindset that we were going to try to play,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens.  “Most of the day, we knew we were going to try to get in one game.  We needed to come in, to be prepared to play a single game and get the jump on the series, and that's what we ended up doing.”

When the game finally got underway, neither Valpo starter Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) nor Wright State starter Krystian DeWitt gave up many hard-hit balls over the course of the seven-inning contest.  But the Raiders utilized a number of infield hits to threaten over the course of the game, especially in the early going.  Wright State loaded the bases with two outs in the first, had runners on first and second with one out in the second and put two on with two out in the third, but each time, Lagesse was able to get the key out to keep the game scoreless.

Meanwhile, Valpo's offense struggled in the early going, as an infield single by freshman Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran), who was erased on a double play immediately, was the only blemish against DeWitt through the first three frames.  But the Crusaders finally broke through in the fourth inning.  A one-out single back up the middle by Doerffler gave Valpo its second baserunner of the game, and then senior KC Boldt (Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing) walked with two away to move the freshman into scoring position. 

Rutkowski stepped in and, with the green light on a 3-0 count, knocked a single back up the middle to bring Doerffler around with the game's first run.  The junior picked up her 92nd career RBI on the play, matching Ashley Wolter atop Valpo's career chart in the category.  Wright State threatened in each of the next two innings as well, having runners on first and second with one out and then runners on the corners with two outs in the fifth, before picking up a two-out infield single in the sixth.  But again Lagesse bore down and registered the big outs to keep the Raiders scoreless.

“Alex didn't get rattled today with runners on base, she did a good job staying with our game plan,” said Stevens.  “She continued to just go pitch-by-pitch and hitter-by-hitter, which is what we need from our pitchers.  She stayed focused on the task at hand throughout the game.  We got a good defensive effort behind Alex as well to help strand those runners, which kept us where we needed to be.”

The bottom of the sixth brought a key insurance tally to the Crusaders' side of the ledger.  A one-out walk by junior Sara Strickland (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) was followed immediately by a single back through the box by Boldt to advance Strickland to second.  Rutkowski then laced a single back up the middle, but with Strickland looking to score Valpo's second run, a perfect throw to the plate by WSU center fielder Mollie Berry cut down the junior for the second out of the inning.  The Crusaders weren't done though, as senior Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) took a four-pitch walk to load the bases and then junior Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) watched ball four go by on a 3-1 count, bringing Boldt home to give Valpo a 2-0 lead.

Wright State had one more scoring threat left in the seventh inning, and would finally break onto the scoreboard, as with runners on first and second and one out, Kacie Rapshus singled back up the middle to score Justine Shilt to cut the Crusader lead to 2-1.  Strickland's throw went to third to unsuccessfully try to cut down Lindsay Barrett, allowing Rapshus to move up to second and put the potential go-ahead run into scoring position with one out.  But with the infield in, Liz Mathews grounded a one-hopper to Conner at third for the second out.  Then Lagesse came up big to close out the game, winning a 12-pitch battle with pinch-hitter Natasha Szlapetis by getting her to swing for strike three on a full count to pick up the victory.

Despite tossing just one 1-2-3 inning, Lagesse earned the victory in the circle for the Crusaders, improving to 10-10 on the season.  Lagesse struck out seven Raider hitters and stranded 12 WSU runners on base in the complete-game effort.  DeWitt took the complete-game loss to fall to 12-12 for Wright State (18-19, 7-3 Horizon).  Doerffler and Rutkowski each picked up a pair of hits to pace the Valpo offense.

“I would hope that we continue to make adjustments at the plate as the game goes on, and we did,” said Stevens.  “DeWitt threw a good game for Wright State.  I thought we had good approaches at the plate the entire game.  The hits just weren't there in the first few innings, but our approach was still good.”

Valparaiso (26-17-1, 9-6 Horizon) returns to the field on Thursday for the re-scheduled twinbill against the Raiders, starting at 2 p.m.  The second game can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, while live stats for both games will also be available.

Softball Northern Illinois 6 VU Softball Field
Apr 8 Valpo 8
Baseball Valpo 5 Evanston, Ill.
Apr 8 Northwestern 12
Softball Northern Illinois 3 8 inn.
Apr 8 Valpo 4
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19, 1:00 p.m. Milwaukee
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 5:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26 Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo