The Valpo softball team closed out a thrilling season series win over Loyola on Tuesday afternoon in Chicago, putting six runs on the board over the final two innings to earn a come-from-behind 6-2 victory over the Ramblers. Sophomore Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) had the big blow for the Beacons, delivering a two-out, three-run double in the sixth inning to put Valpo ahead for good.
How It Happened
- Valpo threatened in the top of the first, as Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) led the game off with a bunt single and stole second, but she was erased from the basepaths.
- Loyola took the lead in its first turn at the plate on a two-out RBI single.
- The Beacons led off both the third and the fifth innings with singles, but were unable to get either runner past second base.
- Meanwhile, Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) was handling the Ramblers offense. Loyola got a one-out double in the fourth, but Seib rolled back-to-back ground balls to prevent Loyola from scoring. The Ramblers then turned their lineup over with consecutive one-out singles in the fifth before Seib registered a big strikeout and got another grounder to keep it a 1-0 game.
- Valpo broke through in a big way in the top of the sixth. Westphal led off the inning with a bunt single and moved up to second on a sacrifice by Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley). Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) followed with a liner into shallow left, and when the throw came home, Westphal held at third and Herschbach continued on to second to give Valpo two in scoring position with just one out.
- An RBI machine lately, Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) continued delivering in big spots, knocking a single back through the middle to score Westphal with the tying run. When the throw came home again, Kehlenbrink took advantage to move up to second.
- A strikeout accounted for the second out, but Addi Weaver (Shelbyville, Ind./Shelbyville) followed by working a full-count walk to load the bases for Hecker, and the sophomore wasted no time. Hecker swung at the first pitch and lined it the other way down the left-field line, past a diving effort by the Rambler left fielder and into the corner for a bases-clearing double to give the Beacons a 4-1 lead.
- The win wouldn’t come that easy, however, as Loyola came back with a threat in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with one out. Valpo allowed just one run to score, however, to maintain a two-run lead into the final frame.
- The Beacons got some key insurance in their last turn at the plate, as three two-out singles helped plate a pair of runs. Kehlenbrink and Weaver came up with the run-scoring hits as Valpo extended its lead out to four runs, which proved to be more than enough as Seib easily worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh to close out the win.
Inside the Game
- Valpo came away with the season series win over the Ramblers for the second time in four seasons as MVC members. The Beacons split last week’s midweek doubleheader with Loyola in Valpo to make Tuesday’s matchup the rubber match of the series.
- The victory was Valpo’s second in the last 14 days that came after trailing through five innings. Prior to rallying for the win earlier this month over Purdue Fort Wayne, Valpo had not won when trailing after five since March of last season.
- Hecker’s three-run double not only gave Valpo the lead for good, it was the sophomore’s first RBIs in MVC play this year. Hecker, who went 2-for-4 on the day, posted her fifth multi-hit game and her second three-RBI game of the season.
- Hecker had plenty of company when it came to success at the plate Tuesday, as the Beacons put 10 hits on the board — their second-best effort this season in MVC play.
- Four Valpo players in all registered multi-hit games in the victory. Westphal picked up a pair of hits out of the leadoff spot for her ninth multi-hit game of the year, tying her for the team high in the category.
- Kehlenbrink went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, her fifth multi-hit game and sixth multi-RBI game of the season.
- Weaver reached base three times in all in the win, going 2-for-3 with a walk. She extended her streak of reaching base to a season-best seven straight games and tallied her fourth multi-hit game of the year.
- Herschbach’s sixth-inning base knock extended her hitting streak to five straight games.
- Westphal successfully stole a pair of bases on Tuesday, giving her seven steals over the last four games. She now owns a team-best 13 steals on the season. With 37 career steals, the senior is now alone in sixth place in program history, just two away from a tie for fourth.
- Seib was strong throughout the afternoon in the circle after entering in relief early in the first inning. The junior earned her sixth win of the year, scattering seven hits over her seven innings of work and allowing just one run.
Valpo (12-28, 3-18 MVC) will try to carry the momentum from Tuesday’s win into the weekend, as the Beacons make their final road trip of the regular season in the form of a journey to Normal, Ill. for a three-game weekend series at Illinois State. The series is slated to open with a noon doubleheader on Saturday.