April 5, 2013
LOYOLA (13-12, 1-2) vs. VALPARAISO (20-12, 5-1)
April 6, 2013 - 12 p.m. CT
Chicago, Ill. - Loyola Softball Park
Series Record vs. Valparaiso: Loyola leads 33-18
THIS WEEKEND'S GAMES
Loyola has won three of its last four contests overall and is 23-12 (.657) at home since the start of the 2011 season. Each of the Ramblers' last three wins have come by a single run. This weekend's series is a rematch of last year's Horizon League Championship, in which Valparaiso posted back-to-back 2-1 victories to emerge from the consolation bracket to win the League title and earn a NCAA Regional berth. The teams have split their last 14 meetings.
SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS
Valparaiso has won seven straight games heading into this weekend's action, and the Crusaders sit atop the Horizon League standings with a 5-1 conference ledger. The tandem of Brittany Duncan (.386, 4 HR, 19 RBI) and Joylyn Ichiyama (.373, 4 HR, 21 RBI) leads a Valpo offense that is batting a collective .280 on the season. Freshman lefthander Taylor Weissenhofer is off to a strong start and leads the Crusaders with a 10-6 record, 2.33 ERA, and 122 strikeouts in 90.0 innings of work this spring.
START HER UP
In her last two starts, both wins, sophomore Amanda Ciran has allowed only four hits in 14.0 innings, while striking out eight. The righthander, who last year posted a 5-13 record with a 2.87 ERA, is 2-1 with a 1.30 ERA in three starts this spring. On Thursday, she tossed a complete-game, three-hitter, and struck out four as Loyola knocked off IPFW, 1-0.
Last year, lefthander Brittany Gardner put together one of the best seasons ever by a Rambler hurler. The Orland Park, Ill., native compiled an 18-10 record and a 2.69 ERA and struck out a Loyola single-season record 205 batters en route to Horizon League Pitcher of the Year and Second Team All-Great Lakes Region honors. Gardner, who is 22-11 with a pair of saves and 274 strikeouts in her last 38 appearances, opened the 2013 season in sterling fashion, tossing her second career one-hitter and striking out six in a 7-0 win over Rhode Island. Gardner enters this weekend's series against Valparaiso just 13 wins shy of Kari Klier's (1992-95) career record of 51 victories, and she also needs 47 strikeouts to equal Kiler's all-time record of 535 punchouts. She struck out a season-high 12 batters in a hard-luck loss to Illinois on March 15, and now has 12 career double-digit strikeout games to her credit. On Tuesday, she pitched a three-hit shutout as Loyola defeated Northwestern, 1-0. Gardner now owns four career wins versus Big Ten Conference foes.
HOT BAT AT THE HOT CORNER
Third baseman Lauren Moore is having a breakthrough season, batting .333 (29 for 87) with team highs of seven home runs and 22 RBI. The sure-handed junior, who has committed only three errors this spring, had hit only seven career home runs coming into this season and has never batted higher than .281. Last season she drove in a personal-best 26 runs, and this year Loyola is 5-2 when she hits a roundtripper. Moore has hit safely in 13 of Loyola's last 16 outings.
Following this weekend's three-game series versus Valparaiso, Loyola welcomes Purdue to Rogers Park for a single game on April 9 beginning at 4 p.m.