Valparaiso opened its inaugural season of Horizon League softball action at the Valparaiso University Softball Field Saturday, sweeping Detroit by scores of 10-0 and 3-2.
“It’s always great to win two games to open up league play,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “We were happy that the weather cooperated today so that we could get these games in.”
The Crusaders, who batted as the visiting team in both games due to the fact that this weekend’s series was originally scheduled to be played at Detroit, wasted no time winning the opener, scoring runs in each of the five innings to win by run rule. Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) scored the only run Valpo would need in the top of the first on a 2-out RBI single by Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver).
The Crusaders went on to put up one run in the second, five in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth inning to take the victory in the opener. Valpo got hits in the game from seven of its nine starters, including a 2-for-3, two-RBI effort from Wolter, while Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin) chipped in her first home run of the year.
Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) earned the win in the circle, throwing four innings of two-hit ball while striking out eight. Lauren Memmer suffered the complete-game loss for the Titans, falling to 1-3 on the season.
Valpo jumped on the board first in the nightcap as well, putting up two runs in the top of the fourth. With one out, Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]) doubled to left-center field. Two batters later, Wolter blasted a shot off the scoreboard in left-center for her third round-tripper of the season to put the Crusaders on top 2-0.
The Crusaders added an insurance run to their tally in the top of the sixth. Robinson reached on a one-out single, and pinch-runner Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) stole her seventh base of the season to get into scoring position. With two outs, Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) came up with a clutch single up the middle to plate Sundling to put Valpo ahead by a 3-0 count. Detroit used a walk and two hits in its half of the seventh to score two runs, but Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) struck out Memmer with the tying run on second to end the game.
Zappia won the nightcap as well for Valpo, improving to 9-2 on the season after allowing just two hits in four innings and striking out seven Titans. Kelly pitched the final three innings for her first save of the season, while Jill Perry took the loss for Detroit (5-13, 0-3 Horizon), dropping her record to 1-4.
Korth and Warner each registered two hits in the nightcap to lead the Crusader offense. Ten different Valpo players scored runs on the day, led by three tallies from Korth, while Wolter drove in four runs over the two games. The Crusaders also stole six bases on the day, improving their season total to 65 thefts, the third-most in a single season in team history.
Valparaiso (17-8, 2-0 Horizon) will look to sweep the series when it faces off against Detroit in the finale on Sunday at noon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field.