Valparaiso’s bats came alive Sunday, pounding out 14 hits in a 7-3 victory at Green Bay to finish up the regular season. With the win, the Crusaders close out the season in a tie for third place in the Horizon League standings and will be the third seed for the upcoming Horizon League Championship.
The 14 hits the Crusaders tallied on Sunday afternoon were the team’s second-most in a single game this season, trailing only the school-record 21-hit attack against Seton Hall early in the year. Five of Valpo’s nine players recorded multi-hit games, led by a three-hit effort from senior Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran).
The Crusaders, who were able to plate just one run in Saturday’s doubleheader, matched that in the first inning, as sophomore Kaitlyn Ranieri (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) led off with a walk and eventually scored on a two-out single from sophomore Janelle Bouchard (Kennebunk, Maine/Kennebunk). Valpo actually went on to load the bases before a flyout ended the opening frame.
A two-out RBI double by Miranda Spangberg tied the game in the bottom of the second, but the Crusaders responded with a pair of tallies in the third. Junior Tarah McShane (Streamwood, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) drew a leadoff walk, and two batters later, a hard-hit double to the wall from fifth-year senior Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) put two runners in scoring position.
Freshman Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) drove home one run with a sacrifice fly to right, and Doerffler followed by knocking a single into center field to make it 3-1 Valpo. Green Bay answered by plating one run in the bottom of the third to cut the Crusaders’ lead to 3-2.
The Crusaders scored a key insurance run in the sixth to push the lead back to two runs, stringing together three straight singles to open the inning. Doerffler led off with a single into shallow center, and pinch-runner Kimberlin Wallace (Newton, Ill./Community [Lake Land C.C.]) came around to score on a base knock by Ranieri.
That run proved to be crucial in the bottom of the sixth, as Green Bay opened the inning with back-to-back extra-base hits to cut the lead to 4-3. A big defensive play by the Crusaders kept the Phoenix from tying the game, as Valpo brought the infield in with a runner on third and nobody out – a move which paid off on a grounder to second that senior Amanda Wisniewski (Skokie, Ill./Huntley) came home with to cut down the Green Bay runner.
The Crusaders secured the win in the seventh with three more runs in their final at-bat. Doerffler closed out her three-hit day with a sharp double to the right-center gap, a base hit which scored Bouchard. Later in the frame, Ranieri came up with a pair of runners in scoring position and delivered a line-drive single that landed just inside the right-field line, allowing both Doerffler and Stewart to score to make it 7-3 Valpo. Sophomore Sierra Pico (Las Vegas, Nev./Legacy) closed out the win with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.
In addition to Doerffler’s three-hit day, Bouchard, Ranieri and freshmen Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and Taylor Lawson (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro) each delivered two hits apiece. Three Valpo pitchers combined to limit Green Bay (24-12, 11-5 Horizon) to five hits, with the Crusaders’ second pitcher, sophomore Taylor Weissenhofer (Orland Park, Ill./Lockport Township) earning the win to improve to 14-11 with 2.2 innings of two-hit ball. Pico tallied her second save of the season with two perfect innings. Valpo handed Phoenix starter Briana Cavin her first loss of the year, as she fell to 7-1 after surrendering three runs in three innings.
Valparaiso closes out the regular season at 21-32 overall and 11-8 in Horizon League play, finishing in a tie for third place in the league standings. Full seedings and the schedule for the 2014 Horizon League Championship will be available later this evening.