The Valparaiso University softball team parlayed early patience in the batter’s box to a large early lead Wednesday evening at UIC, plating seven runs in the first en route to a 9-6 win over the Flames. Junior Hannah Dybalski (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) and freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) each connected on their respective first career home runs in the victory.
How It Happened
- The top of the first started off innocuously enough, with an out. But freshman Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) was hit by a pitch, and then in succession, Herschbach, senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]), Dybalski, and junior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) all drew walks. Dybalski and Matalin’s free passes scored Moeder and Herschbach, respectively, to give Valpo a quick 2-0 lead.
- Following a pitching change, sophomore Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) knocked a grounder to second which the UIC second baseman attempted to come home with. But Lawton was able to cross the plate ahead of the throw to push the lead to three runs, with the bases still loaded.
- Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) followed by sending a single back up the middle to bring Dybalski home to make it 4-0.
- The 13-batter inning also featured an RBI hit-by-pitch from freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) and bases-loaded walks by senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) and Herschbach to extend the lead to 7-0.
- Valpo added another run to its lead to lead off the second, as Dybalski connected on a 1-1 pitch and sent it over the 210-foot wall, just to the right of center field, to make it 8-0 Valpo.
- UIC got on the board with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the third, and then plated a pair of runs in the fifth – one of which was unearned – to move to within 8-3.
- Herschbach got one of those runs back with one swing of the bat to lead off the sixth inning, sending an 0-2 pitch to nearly the same exact spot as Dybalski hit her home run to push the advantage to 9-3.
- Two doubles and a homer led to three Flames runs in the bottom of the seventh. With the lead cut to 9-6 and just one out, starting pitcher Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) re-entered the game and struck out each of the final two UIC hitters to lock down the victory.
Inside the Game
- Valpo’s most-common opponent all time, the Crusaders and Flames were meeting on the diamond for the 86th time on Wednesday. It was the first non-conference meeting between the two programs since 2005.
- The seven-run first inning was Valpo’s highest-scoring inning of the season. It’s the highest-scoring inning in any frame by a Valpo team since scoring eight in the fifth inning against Green Bay on April 4, 2017. It was Valpo’s highest-scoring first inning since April 21, 2013 at Detroit, when the Crusaders put 12 on the board in the opening frame.
- Highlighted by her first career homer, Herschbach led the offensive effort on Wednesday. The freshman reached base in four of her five plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and two RBIs.
- Dybalski also drove in a pair of runs and scored twice in addition to the first round-tripper of her career.
- Edwards earned her second win in as many starts in the circle, improving to 4-6 on the year as she pitched a total of five innings and surrendered just one run on three hits while striking out five.
- 15 of Valpo’s 16 players in uniform on Wednesday saw action. Freshman Maddie Henry (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) made her fourth career plate appearance as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and sent a single back up the middle for her second career hit.
- Valpo has now won five consecutive non-conference games, dating back to its March 5 win at North Carolina State.
Valpo (12-14) welcomes defending MVC champion Drake to the Valpo Softball Complex this weekend for a three-game series. The two teams will play a doubleheader at noon on Saturday before concluding the series with an 11 a.m. single game on Sunday. All three games will have audio broadcasts.