Valparaiso earned a pair of victories Saturday at the Ramada Inn UNI Dome Classic in Ames, Iowa, using a stellar pitching performance to down Nebraska-Omaha 6-0 before breaking out the bats for an 11-5 victory over Big 12 foe Iowa State in the nightcap.
“I’m really pleased with the way we bounced back today as a team after a rough game yesterday,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We had a lot of good production from a lot of different hitters today. I thought our approaches at the plate were much better than they were yesterday. Our pitchers also did a nice job keeping us in the games, giving us a chance for the wins.”
The story of the opener was the performance in the circle by senior Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher). Lagesse surrendered just four hits in the complete-game shutout, walking none while striking out nine batters. The only real threat came in the fourth inning, as a double gave UNO runners on second and third with one out, but Lagesse induced a pop-up and then registered a strikeout to escape the inning unscathed.
Meanwhile, Valpo got all the offense it would need in the bottom of the first inning. The Crusaders got their first two batters of the game on base, and freshman cleanup hitter Brittany Duncan (Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn) brought home the first run of the game with an RBI double. Senior Sara Strickland (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) crossed the plate later in the inning on a wild pitch, while a single by senior Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) scored junior Hayley Bridwell (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) to give Valpo a 3-0 lead after one frame.
The Crusaders added a single run in the second inning, as redshirt sophomore Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) came home on an RBI single by sophomore Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) to make it 4-0. The rest of the offense ran through sophomore Amanda Wisniewski (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Huntley), as she led off the fourth inning with a solo homer to push the lead to five runs before doubling with one out in the sixth and scoring on an RBI single by freshman Lindsey Norway (Chicago, Ill./Chicago Christian) for the final margin.
Wisniewski closed the opener Saturday a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while Norway and Rutkowski each had two-hit games as well. Ashton Hughes started in the circle for Nebraska-Omaha (0-2), allowing four runs, three earned, in 1.1 innings of work.
Valpo then jumped all over Iowa State in its finale on Saturday, scoring six runs in the first three innings. The Crusaders claimed the lead in their half of the first inning for the second straight game, as Norway reached via a leadoff error and advanced 60 feet at a time, eventually scoring on a Duncan single. Valpo scored two in the second, as senior Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) reached on a one-out single and Marinec followed with a walk. The duo advanced around the bases, with Phalen scoring on a wild pitch before Norway drove in Marinec with a sacrifice fly.
Then, in the third inning, the Crusaders had nobody on with two outs before back-to-back walks to redshirt junior Joylyn Ichiyama-Drewry (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) and Phalen and a single by Marinec loaded the bases. A wild pitch brought home Ichiyama-Drewry to make it 4-0, and then Wisniewski continued her big day with a two-run single to plate Phalen and Marinec, pushing the lead to 6-0. Valpo added a single run in the fourth as Doerffler scored on a sacrifice fly by Rutkowski to move the Crusaders to the verge of a possible run-rule victory.
Iowa State would scuttle any ideas of a shortened win, scoring two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to move within 7-5. But Valpo had one more big inning remaining to secure the win, pushing four runs across in the bottom of the sixth. Norway led off with a double and Doerffler followed with a two-bagger of her own to plate the freshman. Then, after a Strickland single put runners on the corners with nobody out, Duncan blasted her first career home run, a three-run shot that provided the final 11-5 score.
Duncan went 2-for-4 in the finale with four runs driven in, while Doerffler and Phalen each registered two hits and scored two runs apiece. Senior Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) improved to 1-1 after going five-plus innings in the start, surrendering three runs while striking out four. Lagesse closed out the final two innings in the circle. Miranda Kemp took the loss for Iowa State (0-1), giving up six runs in just 2.2 innings of work.
Valparaiso (2-1) closes out action at the Ramada Inn UNI Dome Classic on Sunday with a single game against Drake at noon. Live stats for the game can be accessed through www.valpoathletics.com.
“We need to come out tomorrow the same way we did today, to end the tournament strong against Drake,” said Stevens.