April 17, 20241234567RHE
Eastern Illinois2001200592
Win: McKENZIE (2-0) 5.061027
Loss: McDermott (4-15) 6.085433
DAVEY (EIU) 412000
KAUFMAN (EIU) 222121
Johnson (VALPO) 402000
Hecker (VALPO) 402000
Krug (VALPO) 302000

April 17, 20241234567RHE
Eastern Illinois03401109131
Win: KAUFMAN (3-2) 7.042115
Loss: Wilming (2-5) 7.0139642
OSLANZI (EIU) 413100
Krug (VALPO) 311000
Wilson (VALPO) 101010
Sena (VALPO) 311101
Crompton (VALPO) 301000

April 19, 202412345RHE
Missouri State1504X10100
Win: Gracie Johnston (3-14) 5.010014
Loss: McDermott (4-16) 1.166600
Crompton (VALPO) 201000
Olivia Krehbiel (MSU) 333602

April 20, 202412345RHE
Missouri State1047X12101
Win: Mackenzie Chacon (8-10) 4.041103
Loss: Wilming (2-6) 3.278832
Hecker (VALPO) 313101
Annie Mueller (MSU) 323802

April 21, 20241234567RHE
Missouri State0040001562
Win: Gracie Johnston (4-14) 7.054432
Loss: McDermott (4-17) 6.065532
Skapyak (VALPO) 411000
Hecker (VALPO) 211321
Bush (VALPO) 311101
Vasquez (VALPO) 301000
Utendorf (VALPO) 211000
Olivia Krehbiel (MSU) 402100
Softball Faces Five Games in Five Days This Week
Monday, April 15, 2024
Softball Faces Five Games in Five Days This Week

Valparaiso (8-27, 2-12 MVC)
April 17 - Eastern Illinois (28-12, 14-4 OVC) - 1 p.m. DH
April 19 - at Missouri State (10-27, 6-11 MVC) - 5 p.m.
April 20 - at Missouri State - 2 p.m.
April 21 - at Missouri State - noon

Next Up in Valpo Softball: While last week brought five games in six days for the Valpo softball team, the Beacons will top that this week with five games in five days. Valpo takes the field at home for a nonconference doubleheader against Eastern Illinois on Wednesday afternoon before making the long bus ride to Springfield, Mo. for a three-game MVC weekend series at Missouri State.

Previously: Valpo went 0-5 in Valley play last week. The Beacons dropped a pair of home midweek games to UIC, 2-1 in nine innings and 4-1, before falling three times at Illinois State by final scores of 10-0, 8-3 and 8-7. The series finale against the Redbirds was a heartbreaker, as Valpo led 7-5 heading into the bottom of the sixth before surrendering three runs over the final two frames.

Looking Ahead: Valpo's final nonconference games of the regular season will take place next Tuesday, April 23, as the Beacons host Northern Illinois for a doubleheader. Valpo remains at home next weekend as well as Murray State comes to town.

Following Valpo Softball: All five games this week are scheduled to be broadcast live on ESPN+. All games will also have live stats available, linked at ValpoAthletics.com.

Interim Head Coach Laney Jones: In her second season on staff, Laney Jones took over as interim head coach of the Valpo softball program on April 1, 2024 and currently owns a 1-7 record. Jones came to Valpo in October 2022 after spending the 2022 season working as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio. Jones pitched two seasons apiece collegiately at Ashland University (2018-19) and Marshall University (2020-21).

Series Notes: Eastern Illinois - Valpo and EIU have met 21 times entering this week's twinbill, with EIU holding a 16-5 advantage. This marks the third consecutive year the teams have played at least once in nonconference play. Last year, the Beacons and Panthers faced off three times over three days at Bellarmine, with Valpo winning the first encounter, 2-1, before EIU claimed the final two, 8-3 and 10-0.

Missouri State - The Bears own a 12-4 edge in the all-time series, with all but two of those meetings coming since Valpo joined the MVC prior to the 2018 season. MSU has won the last nine meetings over the last three years, including wins by scores of 9-0, 18-1 and 5-2 in Valpo last season.

Scouting the Opposition: Eastern Illinois - The Panthers enter Wednesday's twinbill with a 28-12 overall record and are atop the OVC standings with a 14-4 mark in conference action. EIU has won five games in a row, including most recently a three-game sweep of Southern Indiana on Sunday and Monday. Kendall Grover has 35 runs scored and 34 RBIs, both of which lead the Panthers, while freshman McKenzie Oslanzi has been stellar in the circle, with an 18-3 record, a 1.37 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 138 innings.

Missouri State - The Bears enter the week at 10-27 overall and with a 6-11 mark in MVC play, with a Wednesday game against Kansas on the docket prior to the weekend series. Kayla Ulrich is hitting a team-best .382, while Olivia Krehbiel has scored a team-high 25 runs and Annie Mueller leads the way with 10 homers and 29 RBIs. In the circle, Gracie Johnston has seen the most work and is 2-13 with a 4.44 ERA.

Who's Back: Valpo returns 11 of 16 letterwinners from last year's squad for the 2024 season. In all, 69.2% of Valpo's plate appearances are back for this season and 43.1% of last season's innings pitched return.

Who's New: A group of nine newcomers joined the Beacons for the 2024 season. Kam Utendorf transferred in after playing her freshman season at Black Hawk College, joining eight true freshmen on this year's team.

A Large Roster: The combination of 11 returnees and nine newcomers gives Valpo a 20-player roster for the 2024 campaign. That's a four-player increase over last season's group of 16 players, and it is the largest roster the softball program has had since fielding 21 players for the 2008 season.

An Impressive Win: Valpo's win in the series opener against Belmont came over a Bruins squad which entered the weekend in second place in the MVC standings and in the top-100 nationally in RPI. While it remains to be seen where Belmont will land at the conclusion of the regular season, the last time Valpo beat a team which finished in the top-two of the conference standings came in the program's first season in the Valley, as Valpo took two of three from second-place Missouri State in 2018.

No Freebies Here: Valpo pitching surrendered just seven walks over five games last week, highlighted by back-to-back walk-free outings from the pitching staff Tuesday and Wednesday against UIC - the team's first two games not allowing a walk this season. The last time Valpo posted back-to-back games with no walks from its pitchers came in February 2018.

Racking Up the Hits: The Beacons' bats came alive in the final two games of their weekend series at Illinois State, as they racked up 11 hits on Saturday and followed with a 10-hit afternoon on Sunday. It is the first time the Beacons have posted at least 10 hits in consecutive games since doing so in the 2022 regular season finale versus Evansville and the subsequent MVC Tournament game against Indiana State.

Clutch At-Bats: Valpo finished the Sunday game at Illinois State 6-for-10 at the plate with runners in scoring position, its best batting average in such situations (minimum 10 at-bats) since going 7-for-11 against Western Illinois March 5, 2022. The six hits with RISP tied for the team's second-most in a single game this season.

Seven Shutout Frames: Freshman Sydney McDermott got the start in the circle on Tuesday against UIC and twirled a gem through seven innings, keeping the Flames off the board in regulation before they touched her for a run apiece in the eighth and ninth innings. It was the second time in conference play that McDermott has pitched at least seven shutout innings, as against Bradley, she opened the game allowing just two hits in nine shutout innings before surrendering three runs in the 10th. In that contest, McDermott became the first player in program history to pitch nine straight shutout innings within the same game.

Multi-Hit Efforts: Valpo's 11 hits in the middle game of the Illinois State series were spread over just five different players, as all five tallied at least two hits. It was the second time this year the Beacons have had five players with multiple hits in the same game, as they did so as well earlier this year in the win over Youngstown State. Sophomore Lexi Szostak had two hits against ISU after having a two-hit game earlier in the week versus UIC, doubling her total of two career multi-hit games entering the week. Meanwhile, senior Regi Hecker closed the weekend with back-to-back multi-hit games, giving her a team-high 10 such efforts this year.

Crompton Knocks It Around: Another one of the Beacons with multiple hits in the aforementioned Illinois State game was senior Emily Crompton, who finished the game 3-for-4 - her first career three-hit game and just the second multi-hit game of her career. Crompton has picked things up since the start of Valley play this year, hitting a team-best .323 in MVC action to date to boost her season batting average to .260, aided by going 5-for-9 over the course of the three games against the Redbirds.

Another First: It doesn't seem likely that a senior 150 games into her career can find something to do for the first time, but that's what senior Kayla Skapyak accomplished Sunday at Illinois State. With a runner on second and two out, the lefty slapper slapped a liner down the left-field line which kicked up chalk as it hit the line and then spun further into foul territory, allowing Skapyak to reach second for her first career extra-base hit. The RBI on the play was also just the fifth of her career. Skapyak enjoyed a strong series overall against the Redbirds, going 3-for-6 with two runs scored and two walks while fielding 10 chances in center field without a miscue.

Among the MVC's Best: Entering this week's action, senior Alexis Johnson ranks third in the Valley with 13 stolen bases, while sophomore Kam Utendorf paces the Beacons and ranks sixth in the MVC with a .356 batting average. In Valley-only play, Johnson has been errorless in the field on 68 chances - that is the ninth-highest number of chances for a player with a 1.000 fielding percentage in MVC play, with the top eight consisting entirely of catchers and first basemen.

Hecker Hacking: Senior outfielder Regi Hecker has carried a strong end to her 2023 campaign into this 2024 season. Hecker is batting .343 this season and reaching base at a .422 clip, marks which rank 11th and 15th in the Valley, respectively. She continued her strong season at the plate in the Illinois State series, going 5-for-11 with three RBIs.

Offensive Bests: This year's team put together a number of strong offensive performances in preconference play:
- 13 runs Feb. 16 in win over Morehead State, the program's largest scoring output since March 2019
- 13 hits Feb. 18 in win over Youngstown State, the program's highest single-game hits total since Feb. 2022
- 6 runs March 2 at Indiana, the program's largest scoring output against a Power Five team since March 2012
- 12-4 run-rule win over Bowling Green March 3, the program's first run-rule win since closing the 2022 regular season with a 10-0 win over Evansville

McDermott Mows Them Down: Freshman Sydney McDermott came to Valpo after earning Ohio All-State honors each of her last three years of high school, and has showcased that form in a number of starts this season. McDermott became the first Valpo player to throw complete games in three straight starts and surrender three or fewer hits in all three since Andrea Zappia in 2008, throwing a three-hitter against Texas A&M-CC, a eight-inning two-hitter versus Georgetown and a three-hitter against Bowling Green - a game which featured her retiring 15 Falcons hitters in a row.

International Experience: Sophomore infielder Kim Rodas continued her international career playing for Mexico over the summer, as she earned a bronze medal at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. Rodas previously medaled with Team Mexico at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games, where her squad claimed the silver.