The Crusader softball team took full advantage of its first games in nine days Monday, sweeping a doubleheader from Saint Joseph's (Ind.) at a cold and snowy Valparaiso University Softball Field, 5-2 and 5-1.
The Pumas struck first in the opener, leading 2-0 after the top of the opening frame on a Cheryl Zakowski two-run homer. But Valpo starting pitcher Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) settled down after that inning, giving up just two hits over the final six frames while striking out eight batters.
The Crusader offense came alive in the fourth inning, as Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) led off with a double and came home two batters later on an RBI single by Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove). In the fifth, Valpo bats exploded for four runs as the Crusaders led off the inning with three consecutive singles. Robinson registered an RBI single as the third batter of the frame, while Warner later tallied a 2-RBI double for the deciding runs.
Zappia moved to 5-4 on the season with the victory, while Sara Somogyi took the loss for the Pumas, falling to 14-7 after giving up seven hits and five runs in her six innings of work. At the plate, Robinson went 2-for-3 with two runs scored while Warner went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
In the nightcap, the Crusaders jumped on top immediately, scoring two runs in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Callahan (Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) and a RBI single by Beth Adamski (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central). The Crusaders added another run in the second inning with an Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) RBI double, and rounded out their scoring in the third frame on a two-run home run by Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka). Ashburn's homer was her second of the season and seventh of her career, fifth-best all-time at Valpo.
Chris Halstead (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) earned the win in the finale, throwing six scoreless innings to improve to 5-0 on the season. Jessie Privett took the loss for Saint Joseph's (19-13), allowing five runs, two earned, and seven hits. Robinson had two hits to lead the Crusader offense, while five other Valpo players tallied hits as well.
Valparaiso (16-8) returns to action tomorrow as the Crusaders travel to Northern Illinois for a doubleheader against the Huskies. First pitch of game one is slated for 3 p.m.