April 7, 2013
CHICAGO - Lauren Moore gave Loyola the lead with an RBI-single and Lauren Zaworski gave the team some breathing room with a three-run home run as the Ramblers scored four times in the sixth inning to claim a 6-2 win and finish off a series sweep of Valparaiso this afternoon at Loyola Softball Park. Loyola improves to 16-12 (4-2 Horizon) while sending the Crusaders to 20-15 (5-4).
Valparaiso got on the board first, scoring in the opening inning. Kaitlyn Ranieri walked to start the game and came around from second on a base hit by Brittany Duncan. Loyola answered in the bottom half as Brooke Andresen reached on a bunt single to get things started. After the next two batters were retired, the Ramblers drew three straight walks, the last capping off a 10-pitch at-bat by Tarran Shaffer, to even the game.
Lindsey Norway lined a home run over the centerfield fence with two outs in the second inning to put Valpo back on top and forced Loyola to play from behind. The Ramblers loaded the bases again in the third but could not push a run across and they squandered another opportunity in the fourth, leaving a lead-off walk on the bases.
With Brittany Gardner settling down in the circle, Loyola used a walk to Zaworski and a single by Brie Pasquale to put two runners on with one out in the fifth. Shaffer lined a single to center to load the bases and Katy LaCivita followed with a fly ball to left that was plenty deep to score pinch runner Keali Engelkens with the tying run.
The visitors had a chance in the sixth but were stymied by some sterling Loyola defense. Duncan drew a walk to start the inning and was sacrificed over to second. Jessie Marinec followed with a sharp grounder that seemed destined for centerfield but Andresen snared it with a diving stop and threw to third to cut down the runner for the second out and Shaffer then cut down Marinec trying to steal second for the final out of the inning.
Loyola carried that momentum into the bottom half of the inning with Jessica Balzano reaching on an error to open the frame. Andresen immediately sent her to third with a single to right to prompt a Valpo pitching change. After a strikeout, Moore floated a single into left-centerfield to give the Ramblers the lead before Zaworski belted a 1-2 pitch over the centerfield fence for her second homer in as many days to make it a 6-2 game.
Gardner walked the lead off hitter to open the seventh but induced a ground ball for the first out before fanning the next two hitters to close out the win.
Zaworski capped a terrific weekend by going 1-for-1 with two walks to lead the offense. Andresen added a pair of hits as Loyola rapped out seven hits and drew six walks as a team.
While not as sharp as she was yesterday, Gardner put together another solid outing in the circle, allowing just two hits while striking out eight to move to 8-5 on the season.
Loyola returns to action on Tuesday afternoon with a single game against Purdue at Loyola Softball Park.