Valparaiso senior pitcher Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) faced just one batter over the minimum, while the Crusader offense scored multiple runs in four out of five innings as Valpo completed a sweep of the opening weekend of Horizon League play with a 9-1 run-rule victory over Detroit Sunday afternoon in Detroit, Mich.
“I thought we played a good, full game today,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We swung the bat well for five innings. Our defense was solid the whole game, and Alex pitched well again today. It was good to see us put a complete game together to close out the weekend.”
The only blemish on the scoreboard against Lagesse came with two outs in the first on a solo home run by Sara Cupp. The senior then retired seven in a row before a bloop by Rachel Copple fell halfway between the plate and the circle to lead off the fourth, but she was quickly erased on a 1-6-3 double play and Lagesse would retire the final four batters in order to complete the 53-pitch complete game, improving to 8-5 on the year.
Meanwhile, Valpo never trailed on Sunday, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first. Sophomore Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) drew a one-out walk and then advanced to second when senior Sara Strickland (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) reached on a catcher’s interference call. Freshman Brittany Duncan (Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn) followed by singling back through the middle to score Doerffler with the opening run, while Strickland advanced to third, where she would come home later in the frame on a double by redshirt junior Joylyn Ichiyama-Drewry (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) to make it 2-0 Crusaders.
The Crusaders added three more runs in the second to create some breathing room after the Titans had cut their lead in half. Redshirt sophomore Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) led off the inning with a single, followed by a walk to sophomore Amanda Wisniewski (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Huntley). Freshman Lindsey Norway (Chicago, Ill./Chicago Christian) then attempted a sacrifice bunt, but deadened the ball perfectly in the infield and made it to first without a throw to load the bases with nobody out.
Doerffler lifted the first pitch she saw deep in center field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Marinec to make it 3-1 Valpo. Two batters later, Duncan picked up her second base hit in as many innings with a sharp single back through the middle to score Wisniewski, and Rutkowski proceeded to hit a grounder towards second that took a fortunate hop for the Crusaders over the infielder’s head and into center field, plating Norway to push the advantage to 5-1.
Marinec tallied her second hit in as many innings with one out in the third, a solid liner into right field, and eventually came around to score on a grounder by Norway to short, sliding in ahead of the Detroit catcher’s tag. Wisniewski would score later in the inning as well on a dropped fly ball by the Titan’s center fielder to make it 7-1 after three innings. The Crusaders got the last two runs they needed for the run-rule win in the fifth, as junior Tori Brown (Harrison, Ohio/Harrison) tallied a pinch-hit leadoff single, stole second and scored on a double down the left-field line by Duncan, while pinch-runner Hayley Bridwell (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) closed the scoring by crossing the plate on a Rutkowski single.
Duncan and Marinec both went 3-for-3 on the day, with the former driving in a game-high three runs and the latter crossing the plate twice. Rutkowski also picked up two hits and two RBIs, while Wisniewski scored a pair of runs. Kat Hoffman took the complete-game loss for Detroit (7-17, 0-3 Horizon), falling to 1-3 on the season.
Valparaiso (17-9, 3-0 Horizon) steps out of league play for a single game at home Thursday at the Valparaiso University Softball Field against Purdue. Game time is set for 4 p.m., and all the action can be heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live statistics.
“We got good production throughout our lineup today,” said Stevens. “It was a good start to the conference season, and now we look forward to getting better this week as we prepare to host Purdue.”