Freshman Sara Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon) hit a two-run homer with
two outs in the seventh to send Valparaiso’s series opener with Wright State to
extra innings, but the Raiders put up four runs in the tenth and held on for a
9-7 win. Game two was suspended due to
darkness after four innings with Wright
State ahead 5-0, and will
be resumed Thursday at noon.
Wright State jumped out on top in the opener with an RBI double by
Jamie Perkins in the top of the first, and added another in the third on a
Crusader error. Valpo responded with two
runs of its own in the bottom half of the third on a two-out rally. Karen
Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran) worked a walk and came home
on an RBI double by Strickland. The
freshman proceeded to cross the plate on an RBI single by fellow freshman Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) to
tie the game at two.
The Raiders struck back
immediately in the fourth, as Briauna Birl tallied an RBI double and Louie
Haney followed with a three-bagger to plate Birl. A solo home run by Justine Shilt in the top
of the fifth pushed the WSU advantage to 5-2, where it would remain until the
bottom of the seventh.
Sophomore Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington)
got the rally started in the last of the seventh, singling through the left
side. Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) watched four straight
balls to reach on a free pass, and a groundout moved Conner and pinch-runner Jamie Weinburger (Eagle River,
Alaska/Eagle River) up to second and third with one away. Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) pinch-hit and drove in Conner
with a groundout, setting the stage for Strickland’s game-tying shot.
Both teams had scoring
opportunities in the first two extra frames, with the best chance coming for
Valpo in the bottom of the eighth, as the Crusaders loaded the bases with
nobody out. But the Raiders induced a
double-play ball and a lineout to escape the frame with no damage. Wright
State pushed across its
four-spot in the tenth inning, stringing together six hits and a walk to take
the 9-5 advantage.
The Crusaders did not go down
without a fight, as Conner cut the deficit to three with a one-out RBI
double. Two batters later, the sophomore
came across on an RBI single up the middle by Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) to bring the tying run up to
bat. But there would be no more
last-chance heroics for Valpo, as a groundout ended the game in Wright State’s
Five players posted multi-hit
games for the Crusaders, while Conner and Strickland each crossed the plate
twice, the latter also driving in three runs.
Wright State’s Allison Cox led all players at
the dish with a 4-for-5 performance, while Haney also tallied three hits for
Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) took the
complete-game loss for the Crusaders, allowing sixteen hits and eight earned
runs while striking out eight batters to fall to 5-4. Sharon Palma earned the victory for Wright State
(16-14, 4-3 Horizon) in relief, tossing the last seven innings to improve to
Valparaiso (17-9, 3-1 Horizon) and Wright State are
scheduled to resume the second game of the three-game series at the Valparaiso
University Softball Field on Thursday at noon, with the final game of the set
scheduled to begin 30 minutes after the completion of the first game. Live stats will be available for both
contests at www.valpoathletics.com.