Valparaiso had its highest
scoring output against Notre Dame in 24 years Thursday at Melissa Cook Stadium
in Notre Dame, Ind., but it was not enough, as the Fighting Irish took the
nightcap by a 17-9 score. The Crusaders
dropped the opener to the Irish as well, 11-0.
Sophomore Lisa DeBruzzi (Carlisle,
Mass./Concord-Carlisle) got the Crusaders on the board in the nightcap with an
RBI double in the top of the second, but Valpo found itself down 9-1 after two
innings. The Crusaders started posting
crooked numbers on the scoreboard in the third, as with one out, senior Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran)
connected to straightaway center field for her first career home run. Freshman Sara
Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon) followed with a double, and fellow
rookie Kelsey Phalen (Batavia,
Ill./Batavia) drove her in with a two-run shot to right center to cut the
deficit to 9-4.
The Fighting Irish responded
immediately, as a three-run homer by Christine Lux capped a five-run frame and
put Notre Dame ahead 14-4 after three innings.
But another crooked number was in store for the Crusaders, as Sadie Conner (Washington,
Ill./Washington) and Katie Williams (Chicago,
Ill./Lane Tech [Kishwaukee C.C.])
led off the fourth with back-to-back singles.
Two batters later, Korb laid down a perfectly-placed squeeze bunt, and
pinch-runner Aubrey Sundling (Huntington, Ind./Huntington
North) beat the throw home for Valpo’s fourth run of the game.
Korb proceeded to stole
second, putting two runners in scoring position for Strickland, and the
freshman took full advantage, knocking a single through the right side of the
infield to plate Korb and pinch-runner Jenna
Campos (Mt. Prospect, Ill./Prospect). Strickland moved up to second on a foul-out,
stole third and eventually came across the plate on the front end of a double
steal attempt to bring Valpo back to within 14-8.
The Irish scored a pair of
unearned tallies in the bottom of the fourth to increase its lead to eight
runs, but Valpo was not finished pushing runs across the plate either. Jordan
Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) led off the fifth with a walk, and DeBruzzi
and Conner followed with free passes of their own to load the bases with nobody
After a pitching change by
Notre Dame, Williams hit a ground ball to shortstop that drove in Rutkowski and
kept the bases loaded. But two
strikeouts and a fielder’s choice prevented the Crusaders from scoring any more
runs, and Notre Dame got a tally in the bottom of the fifth to end the game via
Strickland led the Crusaders
at the plate during the nightcap, going 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs,
while Korb and Phalen each drove in a pair of runs as well. Katie Fleury and Heather Johnson registered
three hits apiece for Notre Dame, while Lux connected on two home runs and
drove in five runs.
Shaleigh Jansen (Ottawa, Ill./Ottawa Township) took the
loss in the circle for the Crusaders, allowing four earned runs in her 1.1
innings of work to fall to 1-3. Jody
Valdivia earned the victory for the Irish, improving to 10-5, despite allowing
nine runs in four innings pitched.
“We are trying to get better
every game, and to look at it positively, we put up nine runs on Notre Dame in
the second game,” said Crusader head coach Randy
Schneider. “That was a good thing, and something we will try to build
off of heading into our league series this weekend at Youngstown."
Notre Dame won the opener in
six innings, with a first-inning single by Strickland the only hit for the
Crusaders. The Irish got the only run
they would need on a double steal in the second inning and eventually ended the
game on a grand slam by Dani Miller. Stephanie Kelly (Plainfield,
fell to 6-5 in the circle, allowing four earned runs in 3.1 innings, while
Bargar improved to 14-8 with the complete-game effort for Notre Dame (24-13).
"I thought Steph pitched
decent in the first game, but two or three innings we gave Notre Dame four and
five outs,” said Schneider. “Our defense simply needs to be better,
especially simple parts of the game that the players have been doing for years,
we weren't doing today. To some extent that happened in the second game
as well, because whenever you give up 17 runs, you're leaving pitches in the
zone and your defense isn't performing."
Valparaiso (18-15) returns to Horizon League play on Friday, as
the Crusaders travel to Youngstown,
Ohio to take on the Penguins of
Youngstown State. Game one of the
three-game series is set for 4 p.m. CDT Friday afternoon, and all the action
can be heard live on www.sportsjuice.com
. Live stats will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com