Valparaiso traveled to East Lansing, Mich. to take on Big Ten foe Michigan State Thursday afternoon, but the Spartans came away with the doubleheader sweep, winning by scores of 7-4 and 8-1. Taylor Callahan (Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) tied the Valpo record for doubles in a career with the 35th two-bagger of her career.
The Spartans wasted no time putting runs on the board, scoring six in the first inning of the opener. The inning was highlighted by a pair of two-out home runs, as Meghan Darhower hit a three-run bomb to straightaway center field to make it a 4-0 game. Two batters later, Dana Rosenblatt hit a two-run round-tripper to left-center field to give Michigan State a 6-0 advantage.
Valpo responded in the top of the third frame with a crooked number of its own. Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) and Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) registered back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) laid down a bunt and Ashburn beat the throw to third to load the bases. Callahan followed with her 15th double of the season, plating Ashburn and Wolter to cut the deficit to 6-2.
Megan Carroll (Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids) recorded an RBI groundout to bring home Korb and move Callahan over to third for the third tally of the inning. Callahan would score later in the inning on a passed ball to make the score 6-4. The Crusaders could not muster up any offense the rest of the game, however, and Michigan State tallied an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth for the final score.
Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) took the loss for Valpo, falling to 9-5 after allowing nine hits and seven runs, six earned, while striking out six. Lesley Noel moved to 8-7 with the complete-game victory.
The Crusaders jumped out on top in the nightcap, as Callahan led off the game with her single-season record 16th double, extending her hitting streak to 16 games. After Carroll sacrificed her over to third base, Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) rocketed a single back up the middle to give Valpo the 1-0 lead.
Michigan State responded with an onslaught of power in the bottom of the first. Nikki Nicosia led off the frame with a solo home run. With two outs in the inning, Caitlin Mahoney checked in with a two-run homer, and Darhower followed with her second home run of the day to put the Spartans up 4-1. Mahoney also blasted a three-run long ball in the second inning as Michigan State pulled away for the victory.
Chris Halstead (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) fell to 9-3 with the loss in the nightcap, as she went all six innings in the circle. Rachel Turney improved to 12-9 with six innings of one-run ball for Michigan State (32-24).
Ashburn led the Crusaders at the plate on the day, registering three hits in five at-bats. Wolter and Callahan each recorded two hits apiece, while Callahan also crossed the plate twice and drove in two runs.
Valparaiso (25-15) closes out its home campaign this weekend, as the Crusaders host Western Illinois in a key three-game Mid-Con series Friday and Saturday. The two teams will play a single game Friday at 4 p.m. and a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon.