Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) and Carrie Franson (Poynette, Wis./Poynette) combined on Valparaiso's first no-hitter in over five years as the Crusaders won the opener over IPFW 8-0 in five innings Monday at the Valparaiso University Softball Field. In the nightcap, Taylor Callahan (Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) hit two home runs to propel the Crusaders to a 6-1 victory for the sweep.
The no-hitter was the first twirled by Crusader pitchers since Valpo held St. Thomas Aquinas hitless in the first game of a doubleheader on March 12, 2002 in a 5-0 win. In Monday's game, Kelly got the start and tossed the first three innings, striking out five Mastodons to earn the win and improve to 9-4. Franson threw the final two innings, registering two strikeouts.
Valpo scored in four of the five innings in the opener, getting sacrifice flies from Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) and Callahan to take a 2-0 lead after two frames. The Crusader bats exploded for five runs in the third, as Megan Carroll (Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids), Tracy Korth (Elgin, Ill./Larkin [Elgin C.C.]) and Callahan all hit RBI doubles, while Warner recorded an RBI single and Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) an RBI groundout.
The opener ended on the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth, as Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) took IPFW hurler Jenna Connelly deep to give Valpo the mercy-rule victory. Mastodon starter Kayla Powell took the loss, falling to 2-5 on the season, allowing seven hits and six runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.
The Mastodons jumped on top first in the nightcap, getting an RBI double in the top of the second from Beatrice Pedraza to take the 1-0 lead. Valpo gained the edge in the bottom of the third, as Carroll drove an RBI triple into right-center field to bring home Callahan and Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North).
Callahan's long balls were the story of the rest of the game, as the reigning Mid-Con Player of the Week launched one in the fourth inning and another in the sixth inning to give her four on the season and 10 for her career, tied for third-most in Crusader history. The senior also continued to move up Valpo's all-time charts in a couple other categories, moving into second in career hits (151) and career RBIs (72).
Chris Halstead (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) improved to 7-1 on the season with the victory. Halstead went the first five innings, giving up just five hits and one run while striking out two batters. Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) earned her fourth save of the season with two scoreless innings. IPFW (5-17) starter Katie Aspegren went the distance in the circle, falling to 1-9.
Callahan, Carroll, Korb and Warner all registered three hits on the day for the Crusaders, who totaled 19 hits over the doubleheader. Callahan and Korth paced Valpo with three runs scored apiece, while Callahan drove in a team-high five runs.
Valparaiso (21-10) returns to action at the Valparaiso University Softball Field on Wednesday, as the Crusaders host Big Ten foe Purdue. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. CDT.