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
Beacons Suffer Third Walk-Off Defeat of MVC Play
Sunday, April 21, 2024
Beacons Suffer Third Walk-Off Defeat of MVC Play
Natalie Bush connected on her first career home run Sunday.

The Valpo softball team rallied from a four-run deficit thanks to long balls from freshman Natalie Bush (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian) and senior Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South), but eventually fell in walk-off fashion to host Missouri State, 5-4.

How It Happened

  • After scoreless frames both ways through the first two innings, it was Missouri State which opened the scoring in the bottom of the third. A rare fielder’s choice sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and no out plated the first run, followed by a three-run homer from Annie Mueller to give the Bears a 4-0 lead.
  • Valpo was held hitless through the first four innings, but found its bats in the fifth. Bush led off the frame by taking a ball before driving the 1-0 pitch deep to left-center for a solo homer to get the Beacons on the board.
  • Later in the frame, sophomore Kam Utendorf (Columbus Grove, Ohio/Columbus Grove [Black Hawk College]) knocked a single up the middle and senior Kayla Skapyak (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) followed with a bunt single to put two runners aboard for Hecker, who delivered a home run for the second straight day — this one a three-run shot to center which tied the game at 4-4.
  • The next three half-innings were all 1-2-3 affairs as the game was still knotted up entering the seventh. The bottom of the sixth featured a highlight-reel play from Utendorf at shortstop, as she dived to her right to snag a sharply-hit one-hopper and then threw the MSU batter out from her knees.
  • Sophomore Lyna Vasquez (Moreno Valley, Calif./Valley View) led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt. After the second out, Hecker was due up with a chance to knock in the go-ahead run, but the Bears intentionally walked her and a groundout sent the game to the bottom of the seventh.
  • An infield single and a bunt single on a sacrifice attempt set up Olivia Krehbiel’s walk-off double for MSU.

Inside the Game

  • The walk-off loss was the third for Valpo this season — all three of which have come in the Sunday game of MVC road series.
  • Hecker reached base three times Sunday, drawing two walks in addition to her three-run homer — her fourth of the season and fifth of her career.
  • Hecker is the first Valpo player to homer in back-to-back games since Lauren Kehlenbrink did so in all three games of a series versus Bradley in 2022.
  • Bush’s home run was the first of her collegiate career and came on just her fifth hit of the season.
  • Valpo plated the four runs off of MSU starter Gracie Johnston, who had shut out the Beacons on one hit on Friday evening.
  • Valpo starter Sydney McDermott (Stout, Ohio/Portsmouth West) bounced back from a rough start on Friday with a complete game on Sunday. McDermott gave up just six hits, while Missouri State had only four at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Next Up

Valpo (8-32, 2-15 MVC) steps out of conference play for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday afternoon when it hosts Northern Illinois in a doubleheader at the Valpo Softball Complex. First pitch of game one is slated for 1 p.m.