March 24, 20231234567RHE
Illinois State143020414131
Win: Ross (3-6) 7.053347
Loss: Seib (2-10) 1.145540
Chval (ILS) 443410
Masching (ILS) 403310
Hecker (VALPO) 402200

March 24, 20231234567RHE
Illinois State02200228101
Win: Meshnick (3-5) 4.044334
Loss: Kowalski (1-9) 5.075343
Kennedy (ILS) 423301
Herschbach (VALPO) 413000
Softball Kicks Off Home Slate Friday
Friday, March 24, 2023
Softball Kicks Off Home Slate Friday
Taylor Herschbach had a three-hit game in Friday's nightcap.

The Valpo softball team took to the field of the Valpo Softball Complex for its earliest home opener since 2015 on Friday afternoon, hosting Illinois State in an MVC doubleheader. The visiting Redbirds swept the twinbill by final scores of 14-3 and 8-5.

How It Happened – Game One

  • The Redbirds jumped on top with a two-out RBI double in their first turn at bat. Valpo tried to respond in its half of the first, as junior Kayla Skapyak (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) tallied a one-out infield single and subsequently stole second, but she was stranded there.
  • Illinois State added four runs in the second and three in the fourth to extend its lead, and then made it 10-0 in the top of the fifth with a two-run homer.
  • Facing a potential run-rule finish, the Valpo offense came alive in the fifth to keep the game alive. Freshman Kim Rodas (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) opened the frame with a single and junior Emily Crompton (Salem, Ill./Christ Our Rock Lutheran) rallied from an 0-2 count to draw a walk to put two on with nobody out.
  • Junior Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) stepped up, and after falling behind 0-2, knocked a single back through the middle to score pinch-runner Lyna Vasquez (Moreno Valley, Calif./Valley View) and get Valpo on the board.
  • Later in the inning, junior Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) came up with the bases loaded and one out and promptly knocked the first pitch she saw through the left side for a two-run single, ensuring the game would continue.
  • The Beacons were not able to get a runner past second base in either of the final two innings, however. ISU closed the scoring with a four-run seventh inning.

How It Happened – Game Two

  • Illinois State loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the first, but junior Caitlyn Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy) induced a sharp grounder to third that fifth-year Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) gobbled up for the force to keep the Redbirds off the board.
  • Valpo loaded the bases with one out in its first turn at the plate on an ISU error, a Herschbach bunt single and a Rodas walk. Johnson came up and was hit by the first pitch she faced for an RBI the hard way, plating Skapyak to give the Beacons an early edge.
  • The Redbirds scored a pair of two-out runs in the second to go in front, and while Valpo got a pair of runners into scoring position in its half of the second, the Beacons were unable to answer.
  • ISU took advantage of a two-out error by Valpo extending the top of the third to plate a pair of unearned runs and make it 4-1. The Beacons again threatened in their half, loading the bases with two outs before a strikeout closed the inning.
  • Valpo’s continued threats finally resulted in additional runs in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of a two-out rally. Herschbach dropped a single into shallow left-center and Rodas followed with a walk to put two on for Johnson. The junior lined a 3-1 pitch into center, just out of reach of a diving effort from the ISU center fielder, for a two-run double to cut the Redbirds’ edge to 4-3.
  • ISU kept Valpo from getting a runner into scoring position in the next two frames, while the Redbirds added to their lead with a two-run homer in the sixth and a pair of solo shots in the seventh to pull out to an 8-3 lead.
  • The Beacons had one last rally in them in their final turn at the plate. Rodas and Johnson drew back-to-back walks to lead off the bottom of the seventh, setting the table for an RBI single from Crompton on the first pitch she faced to make it 8-4. Despite the fact Johnson scored later in the inning on a passed ball, Valpo was not able to ever get the potential tying run to the plate.

Inside the Games

  • The March 24 home opener was the program’s earliest since opening the 2015 home slate on March 20. It was the fourth-earliest home opener in the history of the Valpo Softball Complex.
  • With both games taking upwards of 2:30 to play, the Beacons and Redbirds found themselves racing darkness to close out Friday’s nightcap. The final out was recorded at 6:46 p.m., the latest action at the Valpo Softball Complex since a March 28, 2015 doubleheader against Wright State ended at 6:49 p.m.
  • The Beacons scored eight runs in Friday’s twinbill after scoring just six combined runs in their previous eight games.
  • Leading the offense on Friday were Rodas and Johnson, each of whom reached base five times apiece. Rodas went 1-for-2 with a walk in game one and turned around to draw three free passes in the nightcap. Her three walks tie a season single-game high by a Valpo player and tie for third-most in a single game in program history.
  • Through the first five games of Valley play, Rodas has reached base at a .769 clip, going 4-for-7 with six walks.
  • Johnson was 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI in the opener, but that was just an appetizer for her game two performance at the plate. The junior reached base in all four plate appearances in the nightcap, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a hit batter and three RBIS.
  • It was the third multi-hit game of the season for Johnson, while her three RBIs were a new career high.
  • Hecker went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the opener, tallying multiple hits for the fourth time this year.
  • Junior Autumn Acord (LaGrange, Ohio/Keystone [Kent State]) reached base twice in the opener as well, drawing a pair of walks.
  • Herschbach posted a three-hit game in the nightcap, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. It was her fifth career game with at least three hits and her first since April 11, 2021 at UNI.
  • As a team, Valpo drew six walks in the second game of the day, tying the team’s single-game high this season.

Next Up

With snow and cold temperatures in the forecast for Saturday, Valpo (3-20, 0-5 MVC) and Illinois State will aim to complete the three-game series at the Valpo Softball Complex on Sunday at noon. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.