Valparaiso came out on the wrong end of a 1-0 pitchers’ duel Sunday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field, as Loyola pushed across an unearned run in the third inning for the game’s only tally.
The Crusaders threatened right away in the bottom of the first inning, as Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]) rapped a one-out double to left-center field. Korth would eventually move up to third on a wild pitch, but could not advance beyond that. Valpo also had a runner in scoring position in the second frame when pinch-runner Kayla Grutz (Bellevue, Iowa/Bellevue) stole second, but she was stranded there.
Loyola scored the only run of the game in the top of the third inning. With one out, Katerina Krause laid down a bunt in front of the plate for an infield single, and moved up to second on an errant throw. Lindsay O’Gean drove Krause in with a double to right-center field.
Valparaiso had two more runners in scoring position in the late innings. Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) tallied a two-out double in the fifth, but was not able to advance beyond second. In the sixth inning, Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) led off with an infield single, stole second and moved over to third with only one out on a sacrifice bunt. Loyola pitcher Amy Solava registered a key strikeout, followed by a lineout, to get out of the threat and shut down the Crusaders in order in the seventh for the win.
Solava moved to 7-8 with the complete-game victory for Loyola (10-15, 5-3 Horizon), scattering five hits while striking out five without walking a batter. Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) took the tough-luck loss for the Crusaders, giving up the lone unearned run while striking out eight Rambler hitters, falling to 10-5 on the season. Korb’s stolen base was her league-best 23rd of the season and her 32nd straight steal since last getting caught on the basepaths.
Valparaiso (19-12, 4-2 Horizon) steps out of league play on Wednesday, April 9 as the Crusaders travel to Fort Wayne to take on IPFW. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 2 p.m. CDT.