Valparaiso played even with Notre Dame for the first four innings Tuesday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field, but the Fighting Irish pushed ahead a run in the fifth inning and went on to earn a 6-0 victory.
The Crusaders had runners reach base in each of the first three frames, and had a runner on second base with two outs in the second inning and with one out in the third inning, but Irish hurler Brittany Bargar successfully squelched each of the Valpo threats. Crusader pitcher Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) matched Bargar pitch-for-pitch in the first four innings, allowing just three Notre Dame baserunners.
The Irish put their first run on the board in the fifth inning. Brianna Jorgensborg pushed a seemingly innocuous two-out single through the right side, and moved up to second on a single by Erin Marrone. Beth Northway followed with a first-pitch single into left field, and Jorgensborg barely beat Tracy Korth’s (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]) throw home to score the game’s opening run.
Notre Dame added three runs in the sixth on a RBI double by Linda Kohan and a 2-RBI single by Jorgensborg to go ahead 4-0. The Crusaders put together their best threat of the game in the bottom half of the sixth, as with one out, Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) and Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) registered back-to-back singles. Both runners moved up on a fielders’ choice on an ensuing strikeout, but they were stranded in scoring position. The Fighting Irish added two more runs in the seventh to close out the scoring.
Bargar earned the complete-game win for Notre Dame (35-17-1) to improve to 27-10 on the year. Zappia took the loss, registering four strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work, falling to 18-7 on the season. Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) recorded a single and stole her Horizon League-best 29th base of the season, while Robinson and Wolter tallied the other two Crusader hits.
Valparaiso (29-16) returns to the field for the decisive three-game series this weekend at Cleveland State. The Crusaders will earn the Horizon League regular season championship with a sweep of the Vikings. The series kicks off with a doubleheader Saturday at noon CDT.