Valparaiso scored eight runs before making its first out of the opening game of a doubleheader Wednesday at IPFW and never looked back, sweeping the Mastodons by scores of 12-3 and 8-4. Mallory Gill (Beloit, Wis./Memorial) drove in four runs in each game to lead the offensive attack, while Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) scored four runs and drove in five on the day.
“I was very pleased with our performance today,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “We set some pretty lofty goals coming into today’s doubleheader regarding our play in all aspects of the game, and we accomplished most of those goals.”
The Crusaders took advantage of wildness from IPFW starter Katie Aspegren in the first inning of the opener to load the bases with none out. Wolter stepped up and deposited her first career grand slam over the scoreboard in left-center field to spot Valpo a four-run lead.
An error, a Gill single and a walk loaded the bases again, and Katie Williams (Chicago, Ill./Lane Tech) and Jamie Weinburger (Eagle River, Alaska/Eagle River) drew back-to-back walks to plate two more runs. Back at the top of the order, Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) laced an RBI single through the right side of the infield, and Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) drew another bases-loaded walk to bring home Valpo’s eighth run of the inning.
IPFW hit two home runs in the bottom of the frame to cut the Crusader edge to 8-3, but that was as close as it would get. Gill scored Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) with an RBI single in the third and jacked a three-run homer in the fifth inning to complete the scoring in the opener.
Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) improved to 11-5 with the complete-game victory. The senior struck out six Mastodons and allowed just one hit in the final four innings. Aspegren did not record an out for IPFW, falling to 0-1 on the season.
Gill continued swinging the hot bat in the nightcap, driving in Robinson and Wolter with a double to right-center in the top of the first to put Valpo ahead 2-0. The Mastodons responded swiftly, as Abby Liden tallied two-run homers in both the bottom of the first and the bottom of the second to make it 4-2 in favor of IPFW.
The Mastodons would not plate another run, however, and the Crusaders quickly took the lead back. Wolter drove in Jacobson in the top of the third to cut the deficit to one, and Gill followed with her second long ball of the day to put Valpo ahead 5-4. Three more insurance runs crossed the plate in the top of the fifth as Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) recorded her first career home run at the end of an 11-pitch at-bat to close the scoring.
Carrie Franson (Arlington, Wis./Poynette) earned the victory for Valpo in relief, striking out four batters in her 2.2 innings of work to improve to 3-1. Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) allowed just one hit in four innings and struck out seven IPFW batters to earn her second save. Amanda Olender fell to 3-8, going the distance for the Mastodons (8-17).
Gill led the way at the plate for Valpo, going 5-for-7 in addition to her eight RBIs, while Wolter went 4-for-6 at the dish as well. Five other Crusaders registered multiple-hit days, while four more players scored at least two runs. Valpo also excelled on the basepaths, stealing eight bases on just ten attempts, led by two thefts apiece from Robinson and Sundling.
Valparaiso (21-12) returns to Horizon League action this weekend when it travels to current league leader UIC. The Crusaders and Flames face off for a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday, both of which will begin at 1 p.m.