Valparaiso avenged Monday’s loss to Lehigh with a win over the Mountain Hawks on Tuesday, 2-1, and followed with a 7-0 victory against Holy Cross in action at the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando, Fla.
The Crusaders scored first against Lehigh in the bottom of the second inning. Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) lined a one-out double to the left-center field gap. Two batters later, pinch-runner Kayla Grutz (Bellevue, Iowa/Bellevue) stole home on the back end of a double steal with Jamie Weinburger (Eagle River, Alaska/Eagle River) to put Valpo ahead 1-0.
Lehigh answered immediately in the top of the third frame with a solo homer from Lisa Sweeney, but neither team would score again until the sixth inning. With two outs and nobody on base, Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) hit a double to left field. Warner followed by reaching on a Mountain Hawk error, and Wolter alertly came all the way around to score the game-winning run.
“To beat Lehigh [35-18-1, 17-1 in Patriot League in 2007] is a great win for our program,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “They came into the game undefeated, but we put together one of the best defensive games I’ve seen in my years here at Valpo and earned the win.”
Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) earned the victory for the Crusaders to improve to 1-2 on the year, throwing all seven innings for her fifth career complete game. The Valpo defense turned two double plays, and Kelly and the Crusaders combined to strand 11 Mountain Hawk runners on base.
“Stephanie really stepped up today and pitched an outstanding game against a very good team,” said Schneider. “Defensively, we managed the ball real well.”
The story of the nightcap against Holy Cross was freshman outfielder/pitcher Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher), who did not pitch in high school after her sophomore year. Jacobson made her first collegiate start in the circle and dominated Holy Cross, throwing a three-hit shutout and striking out eight batters.
“We were really excited to see Jill have such a good outing in her first start of the year,” said Schneider. “To come out and throw a game like that means a lot for our depth in the circle, as it adds another quality arm to the already-deep staff.”
All of Valpo’s offense came in the fourth inning. The Brown and Gold tallied seven runs on seven hits in the frame, including a big two-run double from Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]). Warner, Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) and Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) each added RBIs in the frame, while Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) capped her first career three-hit day with an RBI single of her own.
“We hit the ball really well against Holy Cross, especially in the fourth inning,” said Schneider. “We got the opportunity to play all our position players and get another good win against a quality program.”
Valparaiso (6-4) looks to extend its three-game winning streak when it returns to the field tomorrow. The Crusaders will face LaSalle at noon CST and Sacred Heart at 2 p.m. CST.