Freshman Sara Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon) hit a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh to send Valparaiso’s series opener with Wright State to extra innings, but the Raiders put up four runs in the tenth and held on for a 9-7 win. Game two was suspended due to darkness after four innings with Wright State ahead 5-0, and will be resumed Thursday at noon.
Wright State jumped out on top in the opener with an RBI double by Jamie Perkins in the top of the first, and added another in the third on a Crusader error. Valpo responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the third on a two-out rally. Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran) worked a walk and came home on an RBI double by Strickland. The freshman proceeded to cross the plate on an RBI single by fellow freshman Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) to tie the game at two.
The Raiders struck back immediately in the fourth, as Briauna Birl tallied an RBI double and Louie Haney followed with a three-bagger to plate Birl. A solo home run by Justine Shilt in the top of the fifth pushed the WSU advantage to 5-2, where it would remain until the bottom of the seventh.
Sophomore Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) got the rally started in the last of the seventh, singling through the left side. Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) watched four straight balls to reach on a free pass, and a groundout moved Conner and pinch-runner Jamie Weinburger (Eagle River, Alaska/Eagle River) up to second and third with one away. Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) pinch-hit and drove in Conner with a groundout, setting the stage for Strickland’s game-tying shot.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the first two extra frames, with the best chance coming for Valpo in the bottom of the eighth, as the Crusaders loaded the bases with nobody out. But the Raiders induced a double-play ball and a lineout to escape the frame with no damage. Wright State pushed across its four-spot in the tenth inning, stringing together six hits and a walk to take the 9-5 advantage.
The Crusaders did not go down without a fight, as Conner cut the deficit to three with a one-out RBI double. Two batters later, the sophomore came across on an RBI single up the middle by Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) to bring the tying run up to bat. But there would be no more last-chance heroics for Valpo, as a groundout ended the game in Wright State’s favor.
Five players posted multi-hit games for the Crusaders, while Conner and Strickland each crossed the plate twice, the latter also driving in three runs. Wright State’s Allison Cox led all players at the dish with a 4-for-5 performance, while Haney also tallied three hits for the Raiders.
Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) took the complete-game loss for the Crusaders, allowing sixteen hits and eight earned runs while striking out eight batters to fall to 5-4. Sharon Palma earned the victory for Wright State (16-14, 4-3 Horizon) in relief, tossing the last seven innings to improve to 7-6.
Valparaiso (17-9, 3-1 Horizon) and Wright State are scheduled to resume the second game of the three-game series at the Valparaiso University Softball Field on Thursday at noon, with the final game of the set scheduled to begin 30 minutes after the completion of the first game. Live stats will be available for both contests at www.valpoathletics.com.