The Valpo softball team kicked off their fall season with an impressive performance at the Chicagoland Fall Classic in Orland Park, Ill. this weekend, going 4-2 over the three-day event and finishing in third place out of 25 of the Midwest's top teams.
The Crusaders dominated with tough pitching, as Crusader hurlers Andria Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central), Chris Halstead (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral), Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) and Carrie Franson (Arlington, Wis./Poynette) combined to post a 0.53 ERA, allowing only three earned runs in six games. Zappia and Franson threw 23 innings of scoreless softball over the course of the event, racking up 15 strikeouts.
Friday the Brown and Gold went 2-0, picking up a 4-2 win over Saint Xavier (Ill.) and dropping Illinois Community College 7-0. Junior transfer Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin) had a pair of hits as the Crusaders wiped away a 2-1 deficit with three sixth inning runs against Saint Xavier (Ill.). In the nightcap, Franson and Zappia combined to record the shutout against Illinois Community College while Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) and Kayla Grutz (Bellevue, Iowa/Bellevue) keyed an eight-hit Valpo offense.
Saturday, the Crusaders picked up their biggest win of the weekend, downing defending Horizon League Champion UIC 2-0. Zappia pitched 6.1 scoreless innings and Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin) followed a sixth-inning double by Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) with a two-run homer to give Valpo the win. The Brown and Gold will join UIC in the Horizon League for the 2008 season after one final run in the Mid-Continent Conference this spring.
Later Saturday, three Crusader pitchers held Indiana scoreless for 6.2 innings before the Hoosiers scored in the seventh to earn the win. Valpo stranded runners in scoring position in five of seven innings during the game, but could not push a run across and lost for the first time in the tournament.
In Sunday's action, Valpo blanked Northern Iowa 4-0 and lost 3-2 to UW-Parkside.
Korth led the Valpo offense with a .470 batting average over the weekend while Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) batted .400 and Beth Adamski (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central) boasted a .364 average.
Randy Schneider's Valpo squad has two games left on the fall schedule this Saturday at the Valparaiso University Softball Field against IPFW. The Crusaders and Mastodons will square off in doubleheader action beginning at 12:00 p.m.