The Valparaiso softball team closed play Sunday at Florida's Lipton Invitational by taking on its second consecutive opponent receiving votes for the nation's top-25, but could not earn a victory as the Crusaders fell to Syracuse 6-0.
After a scoreless first by both sides, the Orange struck for three runs in the second, as Kelly Saco led off with a single and Ashley Dimon followed with an RBI triple. Three batters later, Stephanie Watts connected for an RBI double to score Dimon and later scored on a single by Rachel Helman to give Syracuse a 3-0 advantage.
Valpo's best chance at putting runs on the scoreboard came in its half of the second inning, as the Crusaders attempted to respond immediately. Senior Sadie Conner (Washington, Ill./Washington) led off the inning with a four-pitch walk and then advanced all the way up to third base on a bunt single by senior KC Boldt (Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing). But the latter was caught stealing on the third strike of a Crusader strikeout, and another strikeout left Valpo with no runs out of the advantageous situation.
A two-out single by junior Sara Strickland (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) would be the Crusaders' only other hit of the ballgame, while Strickland also was the only other Valpo runner to reach third base, getting there with two outs in the sixth before being stranded. Pinch-runner Hayley Bridwell (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) stole second in the seventh inning as well, as Valpo placed just three runners in scoring position all day. Syracuse scored single runs in the third, fifth and seventh for the final margin.
Junior Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) fell to 3-5 in the circle, going just two innings and giving up three runs in her start. Fellow junior Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) pitched the final five innings, giving up three runs, but just one earned while striking out four. Syracuse (16-3) starter Jenna Caira went the distance, surrendering just two hits while striking out 10.
Valparaiso (7-9) begins the final leg of its spring break trip to Florida at the Rebel Spring Games in Osceola on Tuesday, Mar. 8. The Crusaders take on South Dakota at 10 a.m. CST before facing Robert Morris at 2 p.m.