Valparaiso pitchers Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) and Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) combined to allow just one Butler baserunner past first base on the day as the Crusaders swept a Horizon League doubleheader from the Bulldogs by identical 2-0 scores. The sweep moves Valpo into first place in the league standings.
“Our pitchers were just outstanding today,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider. “Quite simply, you can’t lose games when you shut out your opponent, and both Andrea and Steph did a great job to prevent Butler from even threatening to score.”
Zappia tossed a complete-game one-hitter in the opener, walking no Bulldog hitters while striking out eight. The senior has now struck out 136 batters on the season, just three shy of Valpo’s single-season record in the category. The only baserunner Zappia allowed came with two outs in the fourth, when Butler second baseman Alex Boros grounded a single up the middle. Jennifer Chasteen took the complete-game loss for Butler in the opener, falling to 1-4 on the year.
The Crusaders put the only run they would need on the board in the bottom of the first. Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond) led off the inning getting hit by a pitch, stole second base, and moved over to third on a one-out groundout. Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) took first on a hit batsman with two outs, and took off for second on the first pitch of the next at-bat. Butler catcher Melissa Shofroth attempted to pick Robinson off of third, but her throw was errant down the left-field line, allowing Robinson to score.
Valpo added an insurance run in the fifth to widen the margin to two runs. Alicia Ashburn (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) led off with a walk and moved over to second on a Robinson single. After both runners were sacrificed up, Courtney LaFerle (Elgin, Ill./Larkin) lined a single into right field to score Ashburn and close out the scoring.
LaFerle came up huge in the second game as well for the Crusaders. The game was scoreless entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Ashburn led off by reaching on an error, and pinch-runner Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) stole second base. Robinson walked on four pitches, followed by Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North) beating out a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out. LaFerle stepped to the plate and knocked a 2-2 pitch through the right side to plate Sundling and Robinson with the game’s only runs.
Kelly pitched the first four-plus innings for Valpo, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out three batters. Zappia came in and registered the last nine outs in order to move to 15-5 on the year, the second-most wins in a single season by a Valpo pitcher in school history. Kristen Malinkey took the loss for Butler (16-25, 5-10 Horizon), dropping to 5-11 on the season.
LaFerle was the only Crusader to register multiple hits on the day, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs over the two games. Robinson led the way with two runs scored, while Sundling swiped two bases as Valpo stole five bags over the two games.
“I wish we hadn’t had a whole week without games, and that’s something we’ll try to avoid in the future, because I really felt like our hitters’ timing wasn’t sharp today after such a long layoff,” said Schneider. “But in the end, we got hits when we needed them. At this point in the season, especially with seven league games this week, it’s all about the end result, and the end result today is that we got two key league wins.”
Valparaiso (26-13, 8-2 Horizon) is now just one win shy of matching the school record for wins in a single season and two shy of breaking the mark. The Crusaders also sit atop the Horizon League heading into Thursday’s league twinbill at Wright State. First pitch of the opener is slated for 2 p.m. CDT.