KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Lehigh saw its eight game season opening win streak came to an end, but the Mountain Hawks did manage to split their two games at the Rebel Spring Games on Tuesday. Valparaiso handed the Mountain Hawks its first loss of the season 2-1 in the day’s first game, but Lehigh rebounded battling weather delays and a tough Western Carolina squad before coming away with a 2-1 win in eight innings. The Mountain Hawks are now 9-1 on the season.
For the second straight day Lehigh won a one-run ballgame in extra innings on a pinch-hit RBI single. Tuesday it was junior Whitney Lowe who came off the bench to drive in the winning run with an eighth inning single. Freshman Alex Cueva drove in Lehigh’s first run with a fifth inning single that scored senior Megan Conrad.
Junior Lisa Sweeney pitched all eight innings in the circle to earn the win as she improves to 5-0 on the season. Sweeney allowed her first earned run of the season, on five hits, and matched her season and career high with 16 strikeouts. The victory was the 50th of Sweeney’s career, tying her with Jill Lewis ’99 for sixth on the Patriot League’s career wins list.
Senior Kate Marvel added three hits for the Brown and White.
In Tuesday’s opening game, Lehigh out hit Valparaiso 9-5, but the Mountain Hawks left eleven runners on base and failed to capitalize on several quality scoring opportunities. The Crusaders opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning when pinch runner Kayla Grutz came home on a well executed double steal.
The Mountain Hawks tied the game in their next at bat when Sweeney led off the top of the third with her second home run of the season.
Valparaiso plated the winning run in the sixth inning when Whitney Warner reached on a two out error, allowing Ashley Wolter to score from second base.
Lehigh had base runners in every inning, but squandered several opportunities. The Mountain Hawks left the bases loaded in the first inning, and stranded two runners in the second, fourth and sixth innings. Lehigh mounted a rally in the seventh, but after a one out single by freshman Sam Miller and a walk to Cueva, sophomore Amy Piccinich lined into a game ending double play.
Junior Alisha Gonzales led the way offensively going 3-for-3 at the plate in the opener. Sweeney added a pair of hits, including the home run.
Sophomore Tiffany Curtis took the loss in the circle allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits, while walking one and striking out one. Curtis falls to 3-1 with the setback. Stephanie Kelly worked around nine hits and five walks to earn the win for Valpo, as she improves to 1-2.
The Mountain Hawks will take Wednesday off and will return to action on Thursday when they face Detroit at 1 p.m. and Sacred Heart at 3 p.m. Lehigh already owns a win over Detroit, defeating the Titans 12-2 on Sunday.