The Valpo softball team looked poised to come away with a split of a doubleheader Saturday at Drake in Des Moines, Iowa, as the Beacons led the Bulldogs 4-1 through four innings, but the hosts scored four runs over the final three frames for a 5-4 walk-off final. That win gave Drake a sweep of the day’s action, as Valpo fell in the series opener, 10-2.
How It Happened – Game One
- Valpo took the lead right away in the top of the first. Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) led off the game drawing a walk, moved over to third on a pair of bunts and scored on an RBI single from Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South).
- Drake came back with two runs in the bottom of the first to go ahead. The Bulldogs threatened to add more in the second, loading the bases with nobody out, but a foul-out kept it a one-run game.
- It was again Kehlenbrink coming through with a big hit in the third inning, as the junior delivered her second RBI single of the game, this one scoring Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) — who was hit by a pitch and subsequently stole second — to tie the game at 2-2.
- Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) moved within 60 feet of giving Valpo the lead in the top of the fourth, as she laid down a bunt single with two outs, stole second and moved up to third on a throwing error, but she was stranded there.
- Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) entered in relief to start the third and pitched a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the circle.
- The Bulldogs scored six two-out runs to pull away in the bottom of the fifth, and then added their final two runs in the sixth to close out the game.
How It Happened – Game Two
- Just as in game one, Moeder crossed the plate to give Valpo the lead in the top of the first. This time, she opened the game with a single and moved over to third as the Beacons loaded the bases on another single and a walk. A strikeout accounted for the second out, but a wild pitch on strike three allowed the senior to scamper home with the game’s first run.
- Valpo doubled its edge in the top of the second, as Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Kate Beckemeyer (Forsyth, Ill./Maroa-Forsyth [Parkland]).
- The Beacons had a pair of chances to add to their lead in the first two innings, but stranded five runners on base over the two frames.
- Drake cut the lead in half with an unearned run in the bottom of the second.
- Valpo pushed the lead to three runs in the fourth inning. Westphal laid down a one-out bunt single, stole second and moved over to third on a single by Moeder — who moved up to second on the throw home. That set the table for Herschbach, and the senior delivered with a hard liner to the wall in center, plating both runners to make it a 4-1 game.
- Only one of Valpo’s final 12 batters of the game reached base, however, and the Bulldogs chipped into the lead. A solo homer in the fifth made it a two-run game, and a two-out RBI double in the sixth cut Valpo’s edge to 4-3. Moeder did have a highlight-reel diving catch in the left-center gap earlier in the sixth inning to prevent any further damage.
- The bottom of the seventh for the Bulldogs began with two walks sandwiching a single to load the bases with nobody out. Valpo was able to get the first out, a force at home after a grounder to Herschbach at second, but Macy Johnson delivered a two-run single to give Drake the walk-off win.
Inside the Games
- The nightcap loss was the first in walk-off fashion for Valpo this season.
- Herschbach led the offense on the day, reaching base four times over the two games with two hits, a walk and a hit by pitch.
- Kehlenbrink now has seven RBIs on the week after driving in a pair as part of a 2-for-3 effort at the plate in the opener.
- Moeder and Westphal both posted multi-hit games in the night, while Addi Weaver (Shelbyville, Ind./Shelbyville) reached base twice as well with a double and a walk.
- Westphal stole a base in both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader to re-take the active career lead from Moeder, 32-31. Westphal now ranks seventh in program history in the category, just ahead of Moeder in eighth.
- Caitlin Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy) had a strong effort in the circle in the nightcap, giving up just one unearned run on three hits over four innings of work while striking out three.
Valpo (11-27, 2-17 MVC) looks for a win in the series finale on Sunday from Des Moines. First pitch against the Bulldogs is set for noon, and the game can be seen live on ESPN3.