Crusader Season Ends in 4-0 Loss to Wright State
Sara Strickland went 1-for-2 with a stolen base Saturday. (Ray Acevedo)
Crusader Season Ends in 4-0 Loss to Wright State
Saturday, May 15, 2010

Valparaiso saw its 2010 season come to an end Saturday morning, as Wright State defeated the Crusaders, 4-0, at the Horizon League Softball Championship in Cleveland, Ohio.  Valpo concludes the year with a school-record 35 victories.

The Crusaders’ best scoring chance of the game came in the opening inning, as Sara Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon) reached on a leadoff walk.  The sophomore then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out, but a pair of strikeouts ended the scoring chance.  Wright State posted a run in its half of the first on a two-out single by Justine Shilt, scoring Kristen Bradshaw from third.

Valpo put together another threat in the top of the sixth when Joylyn Ichiyama (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) and Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) tallied back-to-back two-out singles, but a popup kept the Crusaders off the board.  WSU secured its victory in the bottom of the frame on a three-run double by Jamie Perkins.

“Our last inning, we had freshmen as each of our final three hitters, and that to me was kind of like karma with our young team, finishing up with three freshmen,” said Crusader head coach Randy Schneider.  “We still believed, even with young players up in the seventh, that we had a chance to pick up some runs and maybe come back.  But obviously we didn’t, and I just think Wright State and Cleveland State are at this point better softball teams than we are.”

Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) took the loss for Valpo, pitching her fourth complete game of the tournament.  Lagesse fell to 15-12 on the year despite giving up just five hits in six innings.  Melanie Heyne improved to 12-12 with the complete-game shutout for Wright State (28-28-1).

“Overall, it was a good tournament for us,” said Schneider.  “We played some great defense, and obviously Alex pitched one heck of a tournament, just an incredible performance by her.  Hopefully it will give her enough confidence heading into next season to contend for Pitcher of the Year in the league.  It was a fun season, 35 wins is a good year.”

Valparaiso (35-21) set new single-season school records for games played, putouts and tied the record for pitching strikeouts against the Raiders.  Those records were in addition to team single-season marks for wins, slugging percentage, hits, at bats, runs scored, total bases, RBIs, doubles, home runs, and saves.

On the individual side, Strickland set new single-season marks for hits (69), at-bats (175) and total bases (102), while Shaleigh Jansen (Ottawa, Ill./Ottawa Township) set the saves record (8), Conner the assists record (157) and Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) the putouts record (411).  Seniors Carrie Franson (Arlington, Wis./Poynette) and Whitney Warner (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) close their careers as the winningest class in Crusader softball history with 117 wins over their four years.