Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Valpo Closes Long Road Trip With Pair of Wins
Sadie Conner came up with the game-winning hit against Kansas. (Ray Acevedo)
Sadie Conner came up with the game-winning hit against Kansas. (Ray Acevedo)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Valparaiso’s 15-day, 17-game, 2,869 mile spring break road trip closed on an extremely high note Saturday, as the Crusaders opened the day with a solid 4-1 win over Missouri State before ending their slate at the KU Invitational in Lawrence, Kan. with a 6-5 walkoff victory over host Kansas.

“I think we had a great ending to a great week today, and we finished it with a thrilling win over a Big 12 school in Kansas,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider.  “It’s a good feeling, especially since it was a full team effort.  Everybody really came together to win the ballgame.  I was happy to see us put up another 12 hits today; 25 hits over two games against a major-conference team is a great accomplishment.”

The Crusaders jumped out to a three-run lead on the Jayhawks in the nightcap, as RBI doubles by Lisa DeBruzzi (Carlisle, Mass./Concord-Carlisle) and Sara Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon) in the second inning and an RBI single by Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) in the fifth frame put Valpo six outs away from a 3-0 victory.  But Kansas, batting as the road team in its home venue, erased the deficit with one swing of the bat in the top of the sixth, with a three-run homer by Amanda Jobe making it a brand new 3-3 ballgame.

Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) got the Crusaders going in the bottom of the sixth to help regain the lead, taking advantage of an error to reach base safely leading off the frame.  Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) followed with a single, and after the runners both advanced on a wild pitch, DeBruzzi again stepped up with runners in scoring position, connecting on a single that brought both Marinec and Conner across the plate to push Valpo ahead 5-3.

The Jayhawks responded in their final at-bat, though, as a single and triple cut the deficit to 5-4 with the tying run on third base and nobody out.  Shaleigh Jansen (Ottawa, Ill./Ottawa Township) entered in the circle for the Crusaders and induced a popout on the first batter she faced, but an RBI single by Mariah Montgomery tied the game at five apiece.  Kansas went on to have runners on first and second with just one out in an effort to take the lead, but an unconventional double play following an error got Valpo out of the inning.

But the Crusaders would take full advantage of having the last chance to end the game in regulation.  Rutkowski led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and after Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) advanced her to second with a sac bunt, Joylyn Ichiyama (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) came up with a single and advanced to second on the throw.  With runners on second and third and just one out, Kansas elected to intentionally walk Marinec to load the bases and set up a force at any base, but Conner negated the strategy by hitting a fly ball to the fence that went down as a game-winning RBI single which brought home Rutkowski.

Jansen earned the win for the Crusaders, improving to 3-3 on the year by registering the final three outs on defense.  Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) started in the circle for Valpo and shut down Kansas (10-11) through five innings before eventually allowing five runs in six-plus innings while striking out six.  Allie Clark took the loss in relief for Kansas, falling to 3-2 on the year.  The Crusaders tallied 12 hits on the game, led by four players with multiple hits.  Marinec scored two runs, while DeBruzzi drove in a career-high three runs.

“There’s just a lot of players who hit the ball well for us today,” said Schneider.  “Obviously Sadie had a big day, not only coming up with the game-winning hit but also laying down a couple nice sacrifices as well.  Joy came up with a key hit for us too, and Lisa just really hit the ball well for us here in Kansas.  Sara did well too, getting two hits for us in both games.”

The opener for the Crusaders didn’t need nearly the dramatics for Valpo to come out victorious.  They took the lead in the top of the third as Strickland scored on an RBI triple by Rutkowski.  Phalen followed with a two-bagger that plated Rutkowski, and the sophomore first baseman eventually came around to score on an error to give the Crusaders a 3-0 lead.

Valpo added an insurance tally in the fourth when pinch-runner KC Boldt (Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing) scored on an RBI single off the bat of Strickland.  That was more than enough for Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson), who improved to 6-0 on the year with 6.1 innings of work, giving up just one run while striking out seven.  Natalie Rose took the loss for Missouri State (2-11), falling to 0-4.

Jansen entered with one on and one out in the seventh and picked up the final two outs for her fifth save of the year, already tied for second-most in a single season in school history.  Phalen and Strickland both picked up a pair of hits against the Bears.

“It was a heck of a day today, coming out with two wins to close this portion of our schedule with 15 wins,” said Schneider.  “Our goal was to go on this trip, go on the road and have to get on and off the bus and see if we could play well.  We’ve got four big road series in league play and need to be able to play well on the road to finish where we want to in the league standings.  So to see how we were mentally on this trip, getting off the bus and taking the field and playing well, I think we’ll have our shots on the road in league play.”

Valparaiso (15-6) now gets a few days off before returning to action this coming Wednesday with the start of the 2010 home campaign at Valparaiso University Softball Field.  The home slate will kick off with a non-league twinbill against Western Illinois at 2 p.m. CDT.  Both games will be broadcast live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats.

W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. #21/21 Notre Dame
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay