Valparaiso pitchers allowed just four hits on Friday at the Maryland Spring Break Classic in College Park, Md., as the Crusaders split a pair of games. Valpo dropped a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Lehigh in its opener before bouncing back for an 8-0 win over UMBC.
“It was another great day for our pitching staff,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “To give up just four hits to two teams like Lehigh and UMBC says a lot for the way we’re throwing the ball right now.”
The opener was a pitcher's duel throughout, as the two squads combined for just four hits on the game. Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) registered the only extra-base hit of the game with two outs in the top of the first inning, lining a double to left field. For Robinson, it was the 28th double of her career, moving her into fourth place on Valpo's all-time chart in the category.
Lehigh (14-2) put the game's only run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first, stringing together four walks, the last of which scored Carly Potock to put the Mountain Hawks ahead 1-0. Valpo's best opportunity to knot up the score came in the fifth frame, as Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) led off the inning with a single. Pinch-runner Jamie Weinburger (Eagle River, Alaska/Eagle River) moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt, but would get no further, as Lehigh hurler Lisa Sweeney struck out back-to-back Crusader hitters to end the threat.
Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) took the loss for Valpo, falling to 1-1 on the season. Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) threw five strong innings in relief, allowing just two hits while striking out three and walking none. Sweeney earned the win as she gave up just two hits to the Crusaders and struck out ten batters.
Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) continued her dominant 2008 campaign in the nightcap for the Crusaders. Zappia gave up just two hits to the Retrievers while striking out nine batters, lowering her season ERA to 0.71 as she improved to 5-2 on the year. Stephanie Weigman took the loss for UMBC (5-9), falling to 1-5 on the season.
“Steph came in for us and pitched a fantastic ballgame against Lehigh,” said Schneider. “And Andrea just put together another great outing against a UMBC team that won over 30 games last year. Offensively against UMBC, we did a great job of putting pressure on them. We ran a nice squeeze play and stole a few bases and got them off their game a little bit.”
Warner provided all the offense Valpo would need with a second-inning home run, her second long ball of the season. Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]) knocked home two runs in the third inning with a double, while Robinson also drove in a run in the four-run frame. Mallory Gill (Beloit, Wis./Memorial) capped a 2-for-2, two runs scored, one RBI game with a run-scoring single in the sixth, eventually coming around to score Valpo’s eighth run to end the game.
Valparaiso (9-5) returns to the field at the Maryland Spring Break Classic tomorrow with another doubleheader. The Crusaders will face Niagara at 2 p.m. CDT before taking on the host Terrapins at 4 p.m. Maryland enters the weekend ranked among the nation’s top-25 teams.