Tied heading into the bottom
of the seventh, junior catcher Whitney
Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) came up with the big hit, dropping in
a walk-off single to plate pinch-runner Aubrey
Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) as Valparaiso defeated Purdue
in the nightcap at the Valparaiso University Softball Field on Thursday,
3-2. The Boilermakers earned a 7-1
victory in the opener.
Freshman Joylyn Ichiyama (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) got the rally
started in the last of the seventh, drilling a two-strike pitch to the fence in
left for a double. Sundling entered at
that point for Ichiyama and alertly moved over to third base on a wild pitch. Warner then recorded the game-winning hit,
putting a 2-0 pitch into shallow left field, dropping it in between the left
fielder, center fielder and shortstop.
The win improves the Crusaders’ record against Purdue since head coach Randy Schneider’s arrival to 5-4-1, as
Valpo has taken four of the last six matchups.
“I was really proud of our
players today for coming out and battling for a full 14 innings,” said
Schneider. “We put six freshmen out
there today against a Purdue team that is primarily composed of upperclassmen,
and to come out of the day with a win speaks to the mental toughness of our
players on the field. Now we need to use
the momentum from this win heading into Green
Bay this weekend for a big league series.”
The start of the nightcap did
not reflect the pitcher’s duel that the game would eventually settle down into,
as both teams plated runs in the opening frame.
Liane Horiuchi led off the game with a walk and eventually scored on an
RBI single by Candace Curtis in the top of the first. Valpo responded in the bottom half of the
inning with a two-out individual effort by Jordan
Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden), who tripled to right-center and then scored
on a wild pitch.
Purdue immediately regained
the lead in the top of the second, as with one out, Shelby Krammer drilled a
triple down the right-field line. Ashley
Barr stepped up next and delivered a sacrifice fly to deep right to plate
Krammer. The Crusaders would get the run
back in the bottom of the third, as Karen
Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran) led off with a triple and scored on an
0-2 single through the left side by Jill
Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher).
Both pitchers then took over,
as Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield,
faced just one batter over the minimum over the final four innings, while
Purdue’s Suzie Rzegocki retired ten straight Crusader hitters before Valpo put
together the last at-bat heroics. Kelly
improved to 8-5 with the five-hitter, while Rzegocki fell to 18-10 on the
“I thought Steph put together
another fantastic effort in the circle today,” said Schneider. “She did a really good job adjusting to the
Purdue hitters and really dominated the last half of the game, keeping us in a
tie ballgame and giving our hitters chances to win the game.”
Purdue (22-15) got all the
runs it would need in the opener in the top of the fourth, as the Boilermakers
plated three unearned runs in the inning on an RBI squeeze bunt by Alicia
Spack, an RBI single from Barr and an RBI double by Horiuchi. The Crusaders got one run back in the bottom
half of the frame, as Rutkowski launched her first career home run over the
left-center fence, the 22nd of the year by Valpo as a team, matching
a program record. But Purdue scored four
more runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.
Rzegocki started the opener
as well in the circle for Purdue and earned the victory, throwing five innings
of two-hit ball, striking out seven.
Freshman Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) took the loss for the Crusaders, falling to
8-3 after giving up seven runs, four of which were earned, in 5.2 innings.
Valparaiso (21-16) looks to move up in the Horizon League
standings this weekend, as the Crusaders travel to Wisconsin
to take on Green Bay
in a three-game series. The set opens
with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.
All three games of the series will have live stats available at www.valpoathletics.com.