The Valpo softball team erased a four-run deficit in the top of the seventh inning Tuesday in MVC play at UIC to extend the game, but a sacrifice fly gave the host Flames a 7-6 walk-off victory.
How It Happened
- UIC opened the scoring with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the second and added two more in the third to take a 4-0 lead.
- After stranding four runners in scoring position over the first four innings, the Beacons finally broke through in the top of the fifth. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, junior Kayla Skapyak (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) went first to third on a single from junior Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) and continued on to score on a UIC throwing error.
- Fifth-year Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) followed with a long fly ball down the right field line, bringing home Johnson on an RBI triple to make it a 4-2 game.
- The Flames got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fifth courtesy of a two-out RBI single and pushed their lead back to four runs at 6-2 with an RBI groundout in the sixth.
- Needing four runs to keep the game alive, the Valpo offense came alive in the top of the seventh. Freshman Lexi Szostak (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park) got things going with a pinch-hit single to lead things off and Johnson knocked a single through the left side to put two on with nobody out.
- Herschbach kept the line moving with a single back up the middle, scoring Skapyak — who had reentered to run — to cut the deficit to 6-3. Junior Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) stepped in and delivered a knock of her own back through the box, scoring Johnson and Herschbach to make it 6-5.
- Crucially, Hecker advanced to second on the throw in to the plate on her single. After the next two batters made outs, senior Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) stepped up and dropped a 2-1 pitch into right-center field to bring Hecker home and knot the score at 6-6.
- The Flames went on to earn the walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly with runners on the corners and one out.
Inside the Game
- Valpo’s six runs marked its best offensive output since the start of Valley play and was the team’s most since plating six against Bellarmine on March 4.
- The 12 hits were a season high for the Beacons and matched the most since Feb. 19 of last season against Holy Cross.
- The top three hitters in Valpo’s order all had multi-hit games, led by Herschbach, who went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Herschbach extended her career-best on-base streak to 11 consecutive games, matching the longest stretch by a Valpo player in the last four years.
- Herschbach tallied a single, a double and a triple for her three hits, the first Beacon to get three-quarters of the way to a cycle since Addi Weaver on April 20 last season at Loyola.
- It was Herschbach’s sixth multi-hit game of the year and her second three-hit game of the season.
- Hecker went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. The junior is tied for team-high honors with seven multi-hit games this season.
- Johnson rounded out the trio of multi-hit performances at the top of the order by going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, her sixth multi-hit game of the year.
- Skapyak scored a pair of runs as well on Tuesday.
- Senior Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) threw 5.2 innings in the circle and was charged with the loss.
Valpo (8-34, 4-17 MVC) faces its final road games of the regular season this weekend as the Beacons travel to MVC-leading UNI. The three-game set opens Friday evening at 5 p.m. from Cedar Falls, Iowa.