Trailing by two runs entering the bottom of the sixth on a warm Tuesday afternoon at the Valpo Softball Complex, Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) led off the frame with her second home run of the day and Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) came up with the clutch hit later in the inning to give the Beacons a 5-4 lead, an advantage they would maintain through the final out of the seventh to earn the victory over Purdue Fort Wayne. Wednesday’s scheduled home game against Northern Illinois has been canceled due to impending thunderstorms.
How It Happened
- The Mastodons of Purdue Fort Wayne took the lead immediately in the top of the first, stringing together a trio of two-out hits for a run.
- Purdue Fort Wayne looked poised to double its lead in the second, as with two outs and a runner on first, Taryn Jenkins lined a ball that seemed destined for the gap in left-center. But Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) had other thoughts, laying out for a diving grab to keep it a one-run game.
- Valpo jumped in front in the bottom of the second. Hecker turned on a pitch and bounced it through the right side of the infield to lead off the frame. Later in the inning, with two away, Westphal stepped in and worked a 3-1 count before sending a moonshot to left-center field for a two-run bomb, giving the Beacons a 2-1 lead.
- The lead lasted just four batters into the third inning, however, as the Mastodons put together three hits, the last of which was a 2-run double to put them back in front, 3-2.
- Purdue Fort Wayne added to its edge with a solo homer from Camryn Mosher to lead off the fourth.
- Valpo had a golden opportunity to add to its ledger in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with one out on a walk and two singles, but left the bags juiced.
- Cheyenne Nietz (Machesney Park, Ill./Harlem) picked up a huge strikeout in the bottom of the fifth with two runners in scoring position and two outs to keep it a two-run game.
- The game headed to the bottom of the sixth still with Purdue Fort Wayne leading 4-2, but one pitch later, it was a 4-3 scoreline, as Westphal drove the first pitch she saw off the top of the scoreboard in left-center for her second round-tripper of the day.
- Valpo loaded the bases with two outs later in the inning on a single and two walks, prompting a Purdue Fort Wayne pitching change. Hecker was the first Beacon to face the new Mastodon hurler in the biggest plate appearance of the game, and quickly found herself down in the count 0-2. After fouling off a pair of pitches, Hecker got one she was able to do something with and lined it into left-center, plating Moeder and Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) to put the Beacons back in front.
- Nietz took care of business herself in the seventh, retiring the side in order with a strikeout, a grounder back to the circle and one final strikeout to close out the win.
Inside the Game
- The win was Valpo’s first when trailing after five innings since scoring a run apiece in the sixth and seventh to overcome a 4-3 deficit for a 5-4 win against Marshall on March 7, 2021.
- Westphal tied a program record, accomplished on many occasions, with her two-homer game — the first of her career. The last Valpo player to go deep twice in one contest before Tuesday was Jaymee Lawton at Bradley on March 16, 2019.
- Westphal ended the day 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs, adding a single to her pair of homers for her second three-hit game of the season. Her nine total bases are tied for third-most in a single game in program history.
- Westphal wasn’t the only Beacon with a trio of hits Tuesday, however, as Hecker’s clutch two-run single in the sixth was her third base knock of the ballgame. It marked her second three-hit game of the season as well.
- Led by Hecker and Westphal, Valpo tallied 10 hits as a team against the Mastodons, its highest total since the March 5 win over Western Illinois.
- Herschbach reached base multiple times as well on Tuesday, drawing a pair of walks.
- Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) started in the circle and went the first three innings.
- One day after throwing three innings of shutout softball against Southern Illinois, Nietz entered in relief to start the fourth inning. She gave up a solo homer to lead off that frame, but that was the only blemish against her, as she scattered three hits over four innings of work and struck out five to earn her second win of the season.
With Wednesday’s game having been canceled, Valpo (10-21) will return to action with a noon doubleheader on Friday against UNI.