Valparaiso's seventh inning rally fell one run short in game two on Friday afternoon as the Crusaders dropped a doubleheader to Centenary 1-0 and 5-4 at the Valparaiso University Softball Field.
The opener was a solid pitching dual, as both teams had difficulty putting rallies together. Centenary's Traci Smith led off the third with a triple, but was left stranded. Janis Kelley led off the fourth with a home run to left, accounting for the game's only scoring. Valpo put two runners on in the fourth with one out, but failed to score.
Cheyenne Daries retired Valpo in order in four of the seven innings on the way to the shutout, striking out seven and allowing just two hits. Amanda Gilbertson (Murrieta, Calif./West Albany H.S., Ore.) started for the Crusaders and went the first 2.1 innings allowing just two hits. Ashlee Blankenbaker (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) entered in relief and suffered the loss, despite throwing 4.2 innings of four-hit ball.
The nightcap shaped up the same way for the first four innings with neither team able to push across a run. In the fifth, Dana Davis hit a pinch-hit two-run homer to center to put Centenary in front. The Ladies added three more runs in the sixth. Lauren Brownlee had an RBI single and Lory Kowaleski plated another with a double. The fifth run scored on a delayed double steal.
Valpo tried to rally in the seventh, scoring four times and leaving the tying and winning runs on base. Taylor Callahan (Grayson, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian H.S.) and Monica Rowan (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park H.S.) led off with back-to-back singles. With two outs, Gilbertson doubled to right-center to plate Valpo's first two runs of the day. Kelly Silvey (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard H.S.) singled to put runners at the corners, and Beth Adamski (St. John, Ind./Lake Central H.S.) reached on an infield single to the pitcher that scored both Gilbertson and Silvey. Tricia Speziale (Elmhurst, Ill./York H.S.) walked, but a fielder's choice ended the game.
Daries again registered the win, throwing 6.2 innings, while Kelley earned the save. Gilbertson suffered the loss for Valpo. Silvey had two hits for the Crusaders, while Brownlee tallied two for Centenary.
Valparaiso (17-27, 11-7 Mid-Con) and Centenary (32-25, 15-7) will conclude their four-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader beginning at noon.