Valparaiso closed out action at the Tulsa Invitational Sunday morning by earning its first victory of the 2008 season with a 6-1 win over Eastern Illinois.
“We had another good day at the plate,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “For our first weekend outside, we are hitting the ball incredibly well right now. We definitely have a ballclub with a lot of power that can put a bunch of runs on the board.”
The Crusaders kicked off Sunday’s scoring in the second inning. Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) continued her hot start at the plate with a leadoff single. Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) followed with a walk, and after a sacrifice moved the runners up, Mallory Gill (Beloit, Wis./Memorial) tallied an infield single to bring home pinch-runner Kayla Grutz (Bellevue, Iowa/Bellevue). Wolter added Valpo’s second run of the inning on the back end of a double steal.
Eastern Illinois (0-2) cut Valpo’s lead down to 2-1 in the top of the fourth inning with a two-out home run, but the Crusaders responded immediately in the bottom of the frame. Three consecutive one-out singles, including two bunts for base hits, loaded the bases for Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond), who knocked in Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) with a sacrifice fly to put Valpo ahead by a 3-1 count.
Valpo added another run in the fifth inning on a solo homer by Warner, her first career long-ball. The Crusaders pushed their final two runs across the dish in the sixth frame, as Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) scored on a Panther error and Robinson crossed the plate on an RBI single by Warner to close the scoring.
Warner went 3-for-4 on the day with 2 RBIs, her first career three-hit game. The sophomore closed out the tournament 7-for-9 at the plate. Korb also recorded her first career three-hit game, going 3-for-4 and adding a stolen base, leaving her just two thefts shy of Valpo’s career record in the category.
Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) earned the victory to move to 1-1 on the young season, going six innings and allowing just three hits while striking out six and walking none. Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) stepped into the circle for the first time in her Crusader career in the seventh inning, striking out one batter.
“Andrea really pitched some good softball in both games for us this weekend,” said Schneider. “It was also good to get Jill an inning of work in this game, and she performed well. I am also impressed with our defense at this point of the season. Having just one error through three games is incredible for our first weekend outside.”
Valparaiso (1-2) returns to the field at the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando, Fla. The Crusaders are scheduled to play 10 games in five days, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 1 against Fairfield.