Freshman Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) tallied Valparaiso’s
third straight shutout in the opener as the Crusaders defeated La Salle Tuesday
at the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando,
Fla., 9-0 in five innings. In the nightcap, South Dakota rallied for three two-out runs
in the seventh inning to earn a 3-1 victory over Valpo.
Karen Korb’s (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran)
wheels got the Crusaders on the board immediately in the top of the first
against the Explorers. Korb singled,
stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch. Valpo added two more runs in the third as Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden)
registered an RBI double and came around to score on a Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) single, while another tally
crossed the plate in the fourth when Jill
Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) tallied an RBI single.
The Crusaders busted the game
wide open in the fifth inning, pushing five runs across the plate en route to
winning via run rule. With nobody out
and the bases loaded, Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center
Grove) and Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington)
drew back-to-back walks to extend the lead to 6-0. Jacobson followed with a sacrifice fly, her
Valpo single-season record fifth of the 2009 campaign, while pinch-runner KC Boldt (Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing)
came around on the same play on a La
Salle error. Conner raced home on a wild
pitch later in the frame to cap the scoring.
McGee was again dominant in
the circle, improving to 4-0 on the season while scattering five hits and
striking out four Explorer hitters.
Laura Beth McCreesh was charged with the loss for La
Salle, going four-plus innings and giving up all nine runs. Rutkowski registered two hits and two runs
scored to lead the Crusader offense, while Jacobson drove in two runs.
“Sam has been pitching real
well down here for us and came through with another nice performance today,”
said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “We’ve been real impressed with her so far,
and she definitely has the potential to be a real quality pitcher in the
Horizon League for us this year in her first season. Offensively, Kelsey had another good game,
getting on base all three times, and Jordan had a couple nice hits. We did a good job taking advantage of some La Salle struggles to put runs across the plate.”
Valpo scored in the first
inning in the nightcap against South
Dakota, the ninth time in its 13 games that the Crusaders
have plated at least one run in their first time at the dish. Sara
Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon) drew a one-out walk and moved
over to second on a single by Rutkowski.
The duo pulled off a successful double steal, advancing Strickland to third,
and senior Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) delivered a
sacrifice fly to score the freshman and make it 1-0 Valpo.
Neither team would hit the
scoreboard again until the Coyotes came up to the plate in the top of the
seventh. Alaina Novotny reached base to
lead off the inning on a Valpo error and pinch-runner Jessica Lussman moved
over to third base with two outs. Jasey
Goedeken tied the game with an RBI single and came home on an RBI double by
Alexa Rudeen. Callie Roan then tallied
an RBI single of her own to score an insurance run, and the Crusaders would go
down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“It was a good, hard-fought
ballgame with South Dakota,”
said Schneider. “They have a quality
team, they’re solid throughout the lineup and have a great pitcher, so we knew
we’d be in a dogfight. Unfortunately, we
just didn’t close the door when we had the opportunity again. It started with an error on a hard ground
ball, and then they strung together three straight hits with two outs, and you
have to give South Dakota credit for sticking in there and making things happen
at the end.”
Cortney Heim allowed just
four hits in a complete-game win for South
Shaleigh Jansen (Ottawa,
Township) had a solid start in the circle for Valpo, allowing just three hits
in her 4.2 innings of work. Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield,
suffered the loss, falling to 2-3 on the season, after giving up the three
unearned tallies in the seventh. The
Crusader pitching staff has now gone 24 consecutive innings without giving up
an earned run.
“We knew that coming down
here, our pitching had the opportunity to be a real strength for us,” said
Schneider. “And it has been a strength
for us for the most part down here.
We’re still experimenting a bit with our staff, however, trying to
figure out how we can utilize each of our talented pitchers to the best of
Valparaiso (8-5) continues play at the Rebel Spring Games with
another pair of contests on Wednesday.
The Crusaders will face Buffalo
at 10 a.m. CST before taking on Robert Morris at 2 p.m.