Valparaiso opened its 2008 home campaign on Monday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Softball Field splitting a doubleheader with Ball State. Both games went extra innings with the Crusaders winning the opener 1-0 in eight while the Cardinals took the nightcap 4-3 in nine innings.
The opener was a pitcher’s duel. Valpo’s Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central H.S.) carried a perfect game into the seventh inning before a single by Alicia Barkley led off the inning. The Crusaders had a chance to win the game in the sixth with runners on the corners, but Ball State picked off the one on third.
The Crusaders finally won the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) opened the inning on second base due to the international tiebreaker. Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) laid down a sacrifice bunt but the throw from the pitcher went off of Kamilah Holle’s glove and into rightfield allowing Korth to score the winning run.
Zappia went the distance to earn the win (7-2), striking out nine while allowing just two hits and one walk. Elizabeth Milain suffered the loss for the Cardinals allowing just the one unearned run on four hits. Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver H.S.) went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Crusaders.
The second game began as yet another pitcher’s duel, with neither team able to push a run across the plate until the sixth. Ball State had a runner on third with one out in the second, but a fielder’s choice caught Alyssa Collins at the plate.
The Cardinals finally broke the scoreless deadlock with two outs in the sixth. A single, error, and single loaded the bases and Kate Wilczynski doubled to right, just out of the reach of a diving Wolter to plate the three unearned runs.
Valpo answered in the bottom of the inning. Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ont./John Redmond H.S.) led off the inning with a double to center and Wolter followed with an RBI single. Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) singled to put two aboard, and after KC Boldt (Red Wing, Min./Red Wing H.S.) pinch ran for Warner, LaFerle tied the game with another double to center.
The game remained tied into extra innings before Ball State (17-13) broke the deadlock. With Collins on second to lead off the ninth, Wilczynski singled with one out to plate the winning run.
Kelly went all nine innings for the Crusaders in the loss (3-3), allowing eight hits but no earned runs. She fanned eight and walked just one. Milian (9-5) earned the win in relief, allowing just one hit in 3.2 innings in the circle.
Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North H.S.), Warner, and Korth all had two hits as part of Valpo’s eight hit attack in the game for the Crusaders.
“It was a great day of softball all around,” head coach Randy Schneider said afterwards. “Two extra inning games where we won one and lost one. When you are in those types of games, it only means you are getting better. The pitching was really good for us today.”
Valparaiso (12-7) will continue the homestand on Tuesday afternoon with a 3 p.m. CDT doubleheader against Northern Illinois.