The Valpo softball team closed out its opening weekend of action from Rosemont, Ill. on a winning note on Saturday afternoon, as a big day at the plate for Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Waterford) and shutdown relief work from Madison Wathen (Floyds Knobs, Ind./Floyd Central) helped the Beacons take down Western Michigan, 9-5.
How It Happened
- Valpo took the lead in the top of the second, as Westphal stepped up to the plate with two on and one out and deposited her first homer of the season over the fence in left-center field to make it 3-0 Beacons.
- The Broncos put five runs on the board in their half of the second to take a two-run lead.
- Valpo came back with a four-spot of its own before making an out in the top of the fourth to take the lead for good. An infield grounder from Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) plated Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) to get the scoring started in the frame.
- Westphal then scampered home on a wild pitch to tie the game at 5-5, and Kate Beckemeyer (Forsyth, Ill./Maroa-Forsyth [Parkland]) followed with a two-run double, bringing in Moeder and Kayla Skapyak (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) to give the Beacons a 7-5 lead.
- The speed of Westphal created another run in the fifth. The senior reached on a bunt single, stole second, advanced to third on a ball in the infield, and then scored on another infield grounder from Moeder to push the lead to three runs.
- Valpo capped the scoring in the sixth inning, as Kaiah Fenters (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) led off with a pinch-hit single and came around to score on a Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) triple.
- While the offense was putting runs on the board nearly every time it came to bat, Wathen was locking down the Broncos from the pitcher’s circle. The sophomore entered in relief to start the third inning and retired the first 10 WMU hitters she faced in a row.
- The Broncos threatened to cut into Valpo’s four-run edge in the bottom of the sixth, putting runners on the corners with one out. But Wathen induced a double-play grounder to keep WMU off the board and then pitched around a one-out double in the seventh to secure the victory.
Inside the Game
- Saturday’s victory was the first for Valpo in the head coaching tenure of Amanda Eberhart.
- Westphal led the way at the plate in the win, highlighted by her three-run homer — the eighth round-tripper of her career.
- Westphal finished the game 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. It was the senior’s fourth career three-hit game, while it is both her first career three-run and her first career three-RBI game.
- Hecker posted a multi-hit game as well, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. The sophomore tallied hits in all four games at the tournament and finished the weekend 5-for-12 at the plate.
- Beckemeyer and Moeder joined Westphal with multi-RBI games as both seniors drove in a pair of runs in the win. Both Beckemeyer and Moeder each picked up hits in all four games no the weekend as well.
- Fenters’ pinch-hit single in the sixth was the first base knock of her collegiate career.
- Wathen put together the best effort of her Valpo career in the circle to earn the relief victory on Saturday. The sophomore pitched a career-high five shutout innings and surrendered just two hits while striking out four and walking none.
Valpo (1-3) heads to the Charleston Invitational in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. next weekend, where it will play five games in a three-day stretch. The tournament action opens Friday evening with a twinbill against host College of Charleston.