Valparaiso continued its spring break trip at the Rebel Spring Games Thursday with two more victories, defeating Penn 4-2 and 2006 NCAA Regional participant Lehigh, 2-1. Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) earned the win in both games for the Crusaders.
The Crusaders struck immediately in their opener against the Quakers, as Megan Carroll (Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids) led off the game with a double. Two batters later, Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario, Canada/John Redmond) brought Carroll home with a double of her own to give Valpo the early lead.
Penn responded with a run in its half of the first inning, and threatened again two innings later, loading the bases with just one out. Kelly came in out of the bullpen for the Crusaders, forcing a popout and a lineout to keep the game tied at one.
Valpo came out in the top of the fourth and took control of the game with three runs. Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin) started the offense with a leadoff double. Kayla Grutz (Bellevue, Iowa/Bellevue) pinch-ran and came home two batters later on an infield single by Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]). Korth and Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) would both score on a two-out 2-RBI double by Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver). Penn tallied a run in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 4-2, but could get no closer.
Kelly went the final 4 2/3 innings for Valpo to earn the victory, allowing just one run on four hits. At the plate, Wolter went 2-for-3, stroking two doubles to go along with two RBIs, while Korth also registered two hits.
In the nightcap, the Crusaders hit the board first, as Wolter reached base on a single, moved up to second on a passed ball, and came home on an RBI single by Carroll. Lehigh, which defeated #13 Texas A&M twice in last year's NCAA Regional, put a run of its own up in the bottom of the fifth and had the bases loaded with just one out. But for the second time on the day, Kelly came in from the bullpen to help Valpo escape without any further damage, forcing Lehigh's Whitney Lowe to line into a double play.
The score was still tied at one in the bottom of the sixth inning when LaFerle reached on a fielder's choice and was lifted for Grutz. Grutz moved up to third on an infield single and a walk. The bases were loaded with one out when Beth Adamski (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central) came up to pinch-hit and lined an RBI single into right field, bringing home Grutz for the final margin.
Kelly pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings in relief of Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) for her second win of the day. Zappia pitched a solid 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits. Carroll led the offense in the nightcap, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Valparaiso (5-3) will put its four-game winning streak on the line Friday, as the Crusaders face Detroit at noon Central time and Monmouth at 4 p.m.