Junior Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa) hit two home runs during a 4-for-5 day, but Valparaiso dropped its first two games of the 2008 campaign, falling 4-3 to North Dakota State and 8-5 against Tulsa at the Tulsa Invitational.
“I thought we played some good softball today,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “Both the teams we were playing had already played a number of games, but our players looked just as comfortable at the plate and in the field. We really put together some swings and made good contact at the plate today.”
The scoring against North Dakota State started in the second inning. Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) kicked off the frame with a single to left field. Freshman Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) entered as a pinch-runner and promptly stole second base, setting up Wolter’s two-run shot to put the Crusaders ahead.
The Bison cut the deficit in half on a Melissa Chmielewski solo homer in the fourth inning, and scored three more runs in the fifth. Leadoff hitter Laurel Pipkin roped a two-run double to put NDSU (9-2) ahead 3-2, and the Bison added an insurance run on a Valpo error later in the inning.
Valpo put together a two-out rally in the sixth inning. Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin) reached on an error, and two batters later, pinch-runner Kayla Grutz (Bellevue, Iowa/Bellevue) came around to score on a Wolter double. The Crusaders had the tying run on third with two outs in the frame, but could not bring the runner home.
Wolter ended the game a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate on two doubles and the two-run homer. Warner added two hits in as many at-bats. Senior Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) took the loss in the circle, going six innings while giving up just four hits and striking out six.
“I thought Andrea did a great job today for us,” said Schneider. “She went in there against a team that came in hitting .350 on the season and gave up just four hits.”
The nightcap was delayed five hours due to weather, and the host Golden Hurricane never trailed. Tulsa put up two runs in the top of the first inning, but the Crusaders cut the lead in half on an RBI single by Warner. Tulsa (4-6) extended its lead to 6-1 in the fourth frame before Valpo got another two-run homer from Wolter, her ninth career long ball, to slice the margin to 6-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Tulsa put up two more runs in the top of the fifth, however, to go ahead by an 8-3 count. Valpo responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame, as Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) laced a 2-RBI single to score Sundling and Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington), but that was it for the scoring on the game.
Warner recorded her second two-hit game of the day, going 2-for-3 in the nightcap, while Wolter drove in all five Crusader runs on the day. Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) was charged with the loss against Tulsa in her 3.1 innings of work.
Valparaiso (0-2) closes out play at the Tulsa Invitational Sunday morning with a game against Eastern Illinois. First pitch is slated for 9 a.m.