The Valpo softball team bounced back from an opening loss at the Runnin’ Bulldog Tournament in Boiling Springs, N.C. on Friday with a win to earn a split on the day. Valpo fell 2-1 to Robert Morris in its tournament opener, but rebounded by taking down host Gardner-Webb, 7-3.
How It Happened – Robert Morris
- Valpo was held hitless through the first six innings by Colonial starting pitcher Dana Vatakis.
- Valpo pushed a runner into scoring position twice in the first six frames. Sophomore Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) walked and stole second with two outs in the second, while back-to-back one-out walks put senior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) on second in the third inning. But both times, the runners were unable to advance further.
- A sacrifice fly in the third and an error in the fifth inning plated single runs for Robert Morris. With the Colonials threatening to add to their lead, freshman Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth and induced a pop-up to keep it a two-run game.
- Valpo put together a late rally in the seventh inning. Junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley]) led off the frame with a pinch-hit single, and pinch-runner Kate Beckemeyer (Forsyth, Ill./Maroa-Forsyth [Parkland]) moved up to second two batters later when pinch-hitter Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) was hit by a pitch.
- Junior Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) kept the line moving, delivering a run-scoring single to plate Beckemeyer and put the potential tying run into scoring position. But a pop-up and a strikeout stranded a pair of runners on base to end the game.
How It Happened – Gardner-Webb
- After being limited to just one run in its first tournament game, Valpo doubled that output within three batters in its second contest. Freshman Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) drew a one-out walk, and fellow rookie Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) followed up with a two-run homer to give Valpo a quick 2-0 lead.
- Sophomore Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) then cracked a double, chasing Gardner-Webb starting pitcher Laken Myers after just four batters.
- A bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the second cut the lead in half, but with the bags still packed and one out, Packard recorded a key strikeout and then got a pop-up to keep the one-run lead.
- Valpo scored a pair of runs in the top of the third to push its lead to 4-1, as Kehlenbrink walked and Tonoian singled before both came home on a Gardner-Webb error.
- GWU came back with two runs before anybody was out in its half of the third, but again Packard came up big, stranding two runners in scoring position to maintain the one-run advantage.
- A two-out rally gave Valpo some insurance in the fourth. Sophomore Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) singled with two out and nobody on, and Milkowski followed with a double to put a pair of runners in scoring position for Kehlenbrink. The freshman, who has already delivered a number of big hits early in her Valpo career, came up with another – this time, a two-run double to extend the lead to 6-3.
- From there, it was academic, as Packard retired the last 12 Gardner-Webb hitters she retired in order. Valpo capped the scoring in the seventh, as Tonoian rapped her second two-base hit of the game and came around to score on a grounder from Beckemeyer.
Inside the Games
- Valpo’s win over Gardner-Webb came against a squad which entered the tournament 6-1 and was averaging better than eight runs/game.
- Tonoian tallied her second three-hit game in as many weekends to open the season and her third multi-hit game overall of her sophomore campaign.
- Kehlenbrink reached base three times as well and had a season-high four RBIs, while Milkowski scored a pair of runs.
- Packard earned the complete-game win over Gardner-Webb, striking out 11 batters – her second game with at least 10 K’s this season.
- Valpo took the loss in the opener against Robert Morris despite stranding 10 RMU runners on base and keeping the Colonials hitless with runners in scoring position.
- Edwards was charged with the tough-luck loss, giving up just one earned run in her 4.2 innings of work and striking out five. Seib pitched 2.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen, striking out three.
Valpo (4-3) will continue play on Saturday with two more games, taking on Colgate at 9 a.m. CT before taking on Gardner-Webb again at 1 p.m. CT.