Valparaiso earned two more one-run victories Saturday as the Crusaders closed out action at the Rebel Spring Games, defeating Colgate, 2-1, and Fairleigh Dickinson, 3-2. The wins extend Valpo's winning streak to eight games, and move the Crusaders to 9-3 overall, the best 12-game start in program history.
The eight-game winning streak matches the second-longest stretch all-time at Valpo, as the 1988 team also enjoyed eight consecutive wins. The school record winning streak was set in 1987, when the Crusaders rattled off nine straight victories. This year's squad has won each of its last five games by exactly one run, setting a new school record for most consecutive one-run wins.
In the opener against Colgate, the Crusaders received all the offense they would need in the third inning. With two outs, Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario, Canada/John Redmond) drew a walk. Taylor Callahan (Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) followed with her second home run in as many days, putting Valpo up 2-0.
Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) started the game and went the entire way in the circle for Valpo, giving up just four hits and one unearned run while striking out seven. Colgate scored an unearned run in the final inning and had the potential tying run on third base with two outs, but Zappia induced a groundout to end the game.
The Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson struck first in the nightcap, putting up a run in the top of the first inning. Valpo responded in the bottom of the second, as Callahan singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and came home on a wild pitch. FDU put another tally on the scoreboard in the top of the third, but the Crusaders answered immediately, tying the game at two in the bottom of the frame when Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) led off with a walk and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Neither team would score again until the bottom of the seventh. Bethany Boomer (Allen Park, Mich./Allen Park) reached on a fielder's choice, and after a Megan Carroll (Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids) double, the Crusaders had runners on second and third with one out, needing just one run to win the game. After a pop-out, Robinson came through with a clutch single to bring Boomer home with the game-winning run.
Valpo was led at the plate against FDU by Callahan and Carroll, who each registered two hits. All four Crusader pitchers saw action in the circle against the Knights. Freshman Carrie Franson (Poynette, Wis./Poynette) made her first career start, while Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) had the longest tenure, going 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out five. Zappia pitched a perfect seventh inning to earn her second win of the day and third of the season.
Valparaiso (9-3) has now concluded its play at the Rebel Spring Games, and will start on its way back to Indiana. The Crusaders will stop for a couple doubleheaders along the way, with the first doubleheader coming Monday at Gardner-Webb University. First pitch of the opening game is slated for 1 p.m. Central time.