Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Come-From-Behind Win Gives Valpo Best Start in School History
Sara Strickland drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth, one of her three RBIs. (Ray Acevedo)
Sara Strickland drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth, one of her three RBIs. (Ray Acevedo)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Valparaiso’s offense, held in check over the first half of Friday night’s game, exploded to overcome a five-run deficit in an 8-6 nine-inning victory over Gardner-Webb at the War Eagle Classic in Auburn, Ala.  The win is Valpo’s sixth straight and improves the Crusaders’ record to 10-3, the best start in school history.

“This might have been one of the best comeback wins we’ve had in my time here,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider.  “Alex really pitched a heck of a game for us, and our offense came back and got key hits when we needed them.”

The Bulldogs struck immediately in a five-run first inning, getting a pair of home runs to score the handful of runs on only three hits.  The Crusader offense, meanwhile, found itself held without a hit until the fourth inning and only put three runners on base in the first four frames.

But the top of the fifth inning brought a reversal of fortune for the Valpo attack at the plate.  Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) got the Crusaders started with a double and immediately scored on a single by Lisa DeBruzzi (Carlisle, Mass./Concord-Carlisle).  Three batters later, both DeBruzzi and Jill Jacobson (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) were plated on a Sara Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon) double.  The sophomore would come around to cut the deficit to one run on a sacrifice fly by Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia).

Jacobson came up with the big hit one inning later to tie things up, as the junior’s RBI single scored pinch-runner Tori Brown (Harrison, Ohio/Harrison) to tie the game at 5-5.  Neither team was able to score in the seventh inning, and despite both teams getting a runner on second to start extra innings thanks to the International Tiebreaker, neither squad plated a run in the eighth either.

With Jacobson on second base to start the top of the ninth, Valpo broke through to take the lead for the first time.  Hayley Bridwell (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) sacrificed Jacobson over to third, and Strickland followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home the go-ahead run.  Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) kept the inning alive with a single, and Phalen connected on a two-run homer to center to extend the lead to three runs.  Gardner-Webb (7-7) scored its runner on second on a pair of groundouts, but that was the only run the Bulldogs scored as the Crusaders closed out the win.

“We changed our approach at the plate tonight after a few innings, and I really think it paid off offensively,” said Schneide “Sara really stepped up in that ninth inning, getting the ball into the air in the outfield for the sac fly, and then to see Kelsey step up and hit the two-run homer was pretty cool.”

Shaleigh Jansen (Ottawa, Ill./Ottawa Township) earned the start in the circle for Valpo and fought her way through the rough first inning, eventually going 2-plus innings.  Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) came into the game in relief and pitched a gem, tossing seven innings of one-hit ball and giving up just the International Tiebreak run in the ninth, an unearned tally, to improve to 3-1.  The Bulldogs’ Christine Murray took the loss in relief, giving up the three runs in the ninth to fall to 3-4.

“Alex came in and got the job done,” said Schneider.  “She held Gardner-Webb in check the entire night, just an incredible pitching performance against a good-hitting team with some very nice hitters.  She was in control the whole game.  Our defense has to get a lot of credit as well, they made some nice plays to get us out of jams.”

The Crusader offense ended the night with 11 hits, its third straight game reaching double figures in the hit category.  Rutkowski led the way with a 3-for-4 effort, extending her season-opening hitting streak to ten games while also lengthening her run-scoring streak to ten games.  Jacobson and Phalen each had multi-hit games as well, while Phalen and Strickland both finished with three RBIs on the night.

Valparaiso (10-3) looks for another win on Saturday at the War Eagle Classic, as the Crusaders face Tennessee State at 12:30 p.m.  Live stats for the game will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.

W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. #21/21 Notre Dame
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay