Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) went 4-for-4 in the opening game of a Horizon League doubleheader and broke Valparaiso’s career hits record with a single in the sixth inning of the nightcap as the Crusaders swept UIC Friday evening by scores of 12-3 and 10-5. The third game of the series has been canceled due to forecasted inclement weather for the rest of the weekend.
“To go into UIC and to sweep them on their home field, the first time we’ve swept them in a doubleheader in program history, is a really great accomplishment for this team,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “Our players are really playing with a sense of urgency right now, and they’re doing a great job meeting their goals.”
UIC struck first in the opener, scoring two runs in the first on back-to-back illegal pitch calls, but the Crusaders tied the game with single tallies in the next two frames. Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]) connected on her first homer of the season in the top of the second to cut the deficit in half, and Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) brought home Robinson with an RBI single in the third to tie the game.
Valpo took its first lead of the game in the fifth inning. Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) led off the frame with a single and eventually came around to score on an RBI by Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove). Later in the inning, Robinson stole home on the back end of a double steal to put the Crusaders ahead 4-2.
Sarah Clynes cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run, but the Crusaders’ offense exploded in the seventh for eight runs, their second eight-run inning of the week. Ashburn scored the first run of the inning, and Warner and Wolter came up with back-to-back RBI base hits, followed two batters later by a 2-RBI triple from Korth. Katie Williams (Chicago, Ill./Lane Tech [Kishwaukee C.C.]) joined the party with an RBI single of her own, and Robinson closed the scoring in the frame with a 2-RBI double to tie the career hits mark.
Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) earned the victory with 4.2 innings of relief work for the Crusaders, improving to 2-3 on the season. The freshman allowed just one run in her stint while striking out five Flames hitters. Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) picked up her fifth save of the year and 19th of her career with two perfect innings. Clynes took the loss in the circle for UIC, falling to 10-12.
Valpo got all the offense it would need in the nightcap in the first two innings and utilized the longball for most of it. Warner jacked a homer to left-center field three batters into the game to put the Crusaders ahead 2-0, and Mallory Gill (Beloit, Wis./Memorial) followed two batters later with a solo shot down the right field line to make it a three-run game.
The Crusaders loaded the bases with none out in the second inning, and Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) scored Valpo’s fourth run of the game on a misplay by UIC catcher Stephanie Chavez. Warner stepped up to the plate and launched her second round-tripper of the game, this one her first career grand slam, to give the Crusaders an 8-0 lead.
UIC plated three runs in the bottom of the second to cut the deficit to five, but Valpo added another tally in the fifth on Gill’s second home run of the game, her fourth of the week. The Crusaders scored again in the top of the seventh on a Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) double, and while UIC scored twice in the last half of the seventh, Valpo held on for the win.
Zappia picked up the relief victory in the nightcap, improving to 12-5 on the year as she struck out nine batters in her 5.1 innings of work. UIC (16-23, 7-3 Horizon) starter Whitney Orellana fell to 2-6 on the year, giving up eight runs in 1.1 innings in the circle.
Robinson led the Crusaders at the plate with five hits, including her record 171st in the second game, and four runs scored, while Ashburn also scored four runs. Warner ended the day with a team-best eight RBIs.Valparaiso (23-12, 6-2 Horizon) sits in a tie atop the Horizon League standings with the Friday sweep. The Crusaders will step out of the league for a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon at Purdue, with the first game slated to start at 2 p.m. CDT.