Valparaiso used back-to-back home runs in the first inning to claim an early lead at #21 Notre Dame, a lead it would carry into the fifth inning before the Irish scored six runs late as the Crusaders fell by a final score of 7-2 Thursday evening.
“It was just one of those games today,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “There was nothing great about the game, nothing bad – we just got beat. Now, we just have to refocus and get ready for this weekend’s series.”
The Crusaders set a new school record defensively by turning four double plays in their six innings in the field, tied for the second-most twin killings in a game in NCAA history. Valpo turned its first double play in the second on a line drive to third base and followed in the fourth with an inning-ending double play, as the Irish attempted to send a runner home from third on a fly to left. In the fifth, the Crusaders turned a fly-out to right into a double play by doubling off the ND runner from first base, and in the sixth, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Valpo turned a 5-2-6 double play on a one-hopper to third to force the lead two runners.
It was a quick start offensively for Valpo, as after its first two batters were retired, senior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) drilled an 0-1 pitch off the top of the scoreboard beyond the left-center wall at Melissa Cook Stadium. For Wisniewski, it was her 11th round-tripper of the year, tied for second-most in a season in program history. Next up, junior Tarah McShane (Streamwood, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) worked a full count before lining a rope to left-center which hung up long enough to clear the fence and make it 2-0 Crusaders.
Sophomore Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) got an inning-ending fly-out with the bases loaded in the first to keep Notre Dame off the board, and then took advantage of Valpo’s first double play in the second to keep it 2-0. The Irish scored a run in the third on a one-out RBI double from Katey Haus, but a fly-out and a strikeout held Notre Dame to one run in the inning, and then Weissenhofer was the beneficiary of a strike to the plate from senior Kimberlin Wallace (Newton, Ill./Community [Lake Land C.C.]) on a fly ball for the double play to end the fourth.
But the Irish would claim the lead with four runs in the fourth. Notre Dame loaded the bases with nobody out, and a sacrifice fly tied the game at two, with another run coming home on a subsequent error. Micaela Arizmendi followed with a two-run homer to make it 5-2 Notre Dame. The Irish added its final two runs on an Emilee Koerner double in the sixth, while Valpo could not advance singles by Wisniewski or fifth-year senior Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) past first base in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
Weissenhofer took the loss, falling to 12-8 as she pitched the first 4.1 innings. Sophomore Mollie Lindeman (Hebron, Ind./Hebron [PNC]) registered the final five outs in the circle for the Crusaders. Laura Winter earned the complete-game win for Notre Dame (31-10) to improve to 20-4 on the year.
Valparaiso (19-26) returns to Horizon League play with its next-to-last league series of the year, a matchup of the top two teams in the league standings entering the weekend as the Crusaders head to Wright State. The series begins with a doubleheader at noon CT on Saturday from Dayton, with live stats available all weekend at ValpoAthletics.com.