Marci Pratt's two-run double in the top of the ninth inning lifted Southern Utah to a 7-5 victory over Valparaiso in Mid-Continent Conference action on Friday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field.
The Crusaders had rallied from four runs down in the sixth inning to tie the game and force the extra innings. Down 5-1, Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ont./John Redmond H.S.) had a bases loaded two-run double, her second two-bagger of the game, to cut the deficit in half. Following a walk to reload the bases, Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) followed with a two-run single to tie the game.
Southern Utah jumped in front in the fourth as Cassie Cresswell homered to right. Erin Niederhauser made it 2-0 with a single later in the inning.
LaFerle cut the deficit in half with a solo homerun to right-center to lead off the fifth, but Lindi Kennedy's three-run double in the sixth pushed the lead to 5-1.
In the ninth, with two runners on, Pratt doubled off of the fence in left to put the Thunderbirds in front by two, in what would prove to be the final margin.
Robinson and LaFerle each went 3-for-4 for the Crusaders to pace their nine-hit attack. Pratt went 2-for-2 with three walks to lead Southern Utah offensively.
Marissa Gonzalez (7-6) earned the win in relief for the Thunderbirds, working the final four innings and striking out 10 Valpo hitters. Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield H.S.) suffered the loss (5-4) for the Crusaders.
Valparaiso (13-7, 3-1 Mid-Con) and Southern Utah (13-18, 2-2) will wrap up their three-game weekend series at the Valparaiso University Softball Field on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader beginning at noon. The games will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.