Southern Utah's big bats overpowered the Crusaders for the second straight day, sweeping Valpo 11-3 (6 inn.) and 14-8 Saturday afternoon in Cedar City, Utah.
The Brown and Gold briefly tied the day's first game in the third inning, getting an RBI single from freshman Karen Korb
(Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) with one out. But the hosts re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning and put the contest out of reach with a five-run fifth.
(Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond), however, did provide the Crusaders an offensive highlight in the top of the fifth, driving in her 13th and 14th runs of the season with her first career home run. The sophomore was Valpo's best player at the dish in the first three games of the series, driving in six runs on six hits.
Amy Sauer had a monster day for the Thunderbirds, hitting a pair of home runs and amassing six RBI while also going the distance in the circle for her second win of the season. Stephanie Kelly
(Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) took the loss for Valpo, allowing six runs on seven hits in four innings of work.
The second game of the day started with the Crusaders doing the heavy hitting at the plate. Korb came in to score on a Thunderbird error in the first inning to give the Brown and Gold their first lead of the day.
Then, after a pair of Southern Utah runs in the bottom of the first, Valpo surged back in front in the second. After three straight singles to load the bases with no one out, Megan Carroll
(Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids) made it four hits in a row, driving in two to put the Crusaders up.
Again the hosts responded in the bottom half of the inning, plating three runs on a Marci Pratt home run. But in the top of the third the Crusaders had their big inning, notching four runs. Alicia Ashburn
(Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) got it started with a one-out RBI single before freshman Ashley Wolter
(Denver, Iowa/Denver) drilled her first career home run, a three-run shot, to make it 7-5 Crusaders.
The score was still 7-5 in the bottom of the fourth, but that would be the inning things came undone. Pratt greeted reliever Kayla Grutz
(Bellevue, Iowa/Bellevue) with another three-run homer, giving the Thunderbirds a lead they would not relinquish. By the time the fourth was over, three Valpo pitchers had surrendered seven runs and the score was never in doubt again.
Pratt capped her huge day in the fifth inning, blasting her third home run of the afternoon, and fifth of the series, en route to eight RBI in the game. Corie Jensen earned the win for the Thunderbirds (6-23, 4-0 Mid-Con), while Grutz took the loss.
The Crusaders (6-12, 0-4 Mid-Con) come home for the first time this season next week, playing eight games at the Valparaiso University Softball Field over a five-day span. The homestand begins Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. when the Crusaders and Central Michigan Chippewas are scheduled to play a pair of games.
Game one box score
Game two box score