For the second straight day at the Valparaiso University Softball Field, pitching reigned supreme, as the Crusaders downed Oakland 2-1 in the opener before falling 1-0 in eight innings in the nightcap Friday afternoon.
One day after blanking IPFW over 14 innings, the Crusader staff was nearly as dominant, scattering 13 hits over 15 frames. But unlike Thursday, the Brown and Gold only picked up one win against their Mid-Con rival, whom they face off with again Saturday for two key games.
In the opening game Friday, Valpo manufactured a run in the first inning after a leadoff single from Megan Carroll
(Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids). Carroll moved to second on a groundout before scoring on Taylor Callahan's
(Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) base hit. The single for Callahan snapped the junior out of an 0-for-13 funk and was the start of a solid day at the plate.
Starter Stephanie Kelly
(Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) cruised through the first three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth. With two on and no one out, Kelly got a brief reprieve when catcher Shannon Robinson
(Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) picked Camie Knorr off at second base. But Kelly walked the next batter, and Andrea Zappia
(Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) was forced to enter the circle in relief. Zappia, as she did on Thursday, quickly escaped trouble, getting a pair of fly ball outs to retire the side and keep Valpo in front.
In the fourth inning, the Crusaders padded their lead to 2-0. Callahan led off with a single, and moved up to second on a sacrifice. The next batter, Alicia Ashburn
(Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) stroked her second triple in as many games to drive Callahan in with the insurance run.
Zappia (4-5) closed out the ballgame for the Brown and Gold, earning her third win in as many games. Laura Chomokos (4-5) went the distance for the Golden Grizzlies and suffered the loss.
No team could muster a rally in game two until the Crusaders finally got to Chomokos in the fifth. With two outs, Ann Sievert
(Davenport, Iowa/Assumption) singled to left center and pinch-hitter Allison Whitesell
(Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) followed with a base hit to put runners on first and second. But Chomokos struck on Mallory Gill
(Beloit, Wis./Memorial to silence the threat.
Chomokos then stepped into the batters box in the sixth and laced a double down the left field line off starter Chris Halstead
(Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) to lead off the inning. Zappia followed in relief, and promptly surrendered a single and walk to load the bases with no one out. But the next batter, Stephanie Zellner, grounded to third, and Callahan threw home to force Chomokos at the plate. Then, with one out, Zappia coerced a 1-2-3 double play from Alexandro Perrino to preserve the shutout.
The Crusaders mounted a mini-rally in their half of the sixth, getting Carroll to second with one out, but Callahan's deep liner to left was snared by Cheron Guyton to end the inning.
Oakland pushed the winning run across in the eighth, when Sievert could not reach Zellner's sinking two-out liner, watching the play go for a double and Lisa Colores score the eventual winning run.
Chomokos (5-5) earned the win by tossing eight shutout innings, while Zappia (4-6) suffered the tough-luck loss.
The Crusaders (9-13, 1-5 Mid-Con) and Golden Grizzlies (7-12, 1-1 Mid-Con) will kick off their Saturday doubleheader at 12:00 p.m., closing out the four-game series. The games can be heard live on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
Game one box score
Game two box score