Valparaiso closed out its 2007 home season Saturday at the Valparaiso University Softball Field against Western Illinois, dropping both games of the doubleheader to the Westerwinds, 4-1 in eight innings and 5-3.
The Crusaders honored the five members of their senior class in between games. Beth Adamski (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central), Taylor Callahan (Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian), Megan Carroll (Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids), Jessica Schultz (Hubertus, Wis./Hartford Union) and Allison Whitesell (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) have won 80 games over their four years as a part of the Crusader softball team.
Whitesell was a big part of Valpo's rally in the nightcap. Trailing 3-0 with a runner on first and two outs in the bottom of the fifth, the senior drilled the first pitch she saw over the left field wall for her first career round-tripper. Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) followed with the ninth home run of her career to tie the game at three.
The game was still knotted up in the top of the seventh when Samantha Valentine hit a double into left-center field to plate Jennifer Garcia with the go-ahead run for the Westerwinds. Valentine would come around to score an insurance run for Western Illinois. Ashburn reached with two outs in the bottom of the inning to bring the tying run to the plate, but the Crusaders could not convert.
In the opener, the Westerwinds scored a run in the top of the first, but Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) tied the game in the bottom of the second with her third longball of the season. Neither team would score again in regulation, but in the eighth, Western Illinois got an RBI double from Erin Schlotfeldt and a 2-RBI single from Lauren Furgala for the final tallies.
Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) took both losses in relief for the Crusaders, falling to 7-10 on the season. Kamren Ferguson improved to 14-6 with a complete-game victory in the opener for Western Illinois (22-21, 11-2), while Kim King moved to 3-6 with 1 2/3 innings of relief work in the nightcap.
Ashburn, Callahan and Wolter each had two hits on the day to pace the Valpo offense. Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) registered her 19th stolen base of the season in the opener, second-most in a single season in school history. Korb also moved into second on Valpo's career stolen base list, as she now has 35 career thefts.
Valparaiso (25-18, 7-8) is still alive for a berth in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. The Crusaders will travel to Oakland for a three-game series beginning with a doubleheader Sunday at 2 p.m. CDT. Valpo must sweep the series from the Golden Grizzlies to earn a spot in the tournament.