The Valparaiso University softball team had a seventh-inning rally in it on Sunday afternoon in its MVC series finale at Southern Illinois, getting the potential go-ahead run on base, but would come up just short as the Salukis claimed a 5-3 victory.
How It Happened
- SIU started the scoring in the bottom of the first, plating a run without the benefit of a ball leaving the infield on a hit batter, a stolen base and an infield single. The Salukis then got a pair of solo homers in the second to extend their lead to 3-0.
- Valpo got on the board in the top of the third. Back at the top of the order for the second time through the lineup, freshman Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) drilled a one-out double to the gap in right-center. Fellow freshman Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) followed with a perfectly deadened bunt single to put runners on the corners.
- It looked like it would be a tie game briefly during the plate appearance of senior Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno), as she sent a fly ball down the left-field line which cleared the fence, but narrowly on the wrong side of the foul pole. Trepanier would get an RBI during the at-bat, as her fielder’s choice grounder to the middle infield allowed Herschbach to cross the plate, cutting SIU’s lead to 3-1.
- SIU added what proved to be a pair of key insurance runs, scoring one run apiece in the fifth and sixth innings – both of which were of the unearned variety – to extend its advantage to 5-1.
- It looked bleak for Valpo, entering the seventh inning having seen 11 straight outs recorded and trailing by four runs, but the Crusaders had one final push in them. Senior Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) was hit by the first pitch of the inning to reach base. Junior Hannah Dybalski (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) then pinch-hit and connected on what looked like a potential single through the left side, but the grounder took a fortuitous bounce off the diving third baseman directly to the shortstop, who went to second to force Lawton for the first out.
- Sophomore Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base, and following an SIU pitching change, junior Emily Richardson (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) pinch hit and was also hit by a pitch to load the bases, still with just one out, and bring the potential tying run to the plate.
- Freshman Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) worked the count full in her ensuing plate appearance before lifting a fly ball deep to center field, easily enough to score sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) for a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 5-2.
- Now back at the top of the order, Herschbach knocked a single back up the middle to plate Burke and make it a 5-3 game, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate. Moeder was hit by a pitch during her plate appearance to load the bases, moving the potential tying run into scoring position, but a fly ball to center ended the game.
Inside the Game
- The series against the Salukis was the second consecutive against one of the MVC’s top-100 RPI teams to open conference play for Valpo. In fact, each of its first four MVC series come against the conference’s current top-100 teams (Drake, Missouri State, Bradley, Southern Illinois).
- Four Valpo batters were hit by pitches during the top of the seventh inning, tying the program’s single-game record for hit batters, done three times previously – most recently in April of 2013 at Detroit. This was the first time all four hit batters occurred within the same inning.
- Herschbach made her first career start in the leadoff spot in the order and delivered, going 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. The freshman finished the series 5-for-10 at the plate with two doubles and a triple.
- Burke and Lawton joined Herschbach in reaching base twice on Sunday, as both drew a walk and were hit by a pitch.
- Richardson has now reached three times in as many plate appearances this season, the first three plate appearances of her career. She previously drew a walk at Mississippi State and connected on a single against Wagner.
- Junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley College]) took the loss in the circle for Valpo Sunday, despite giving up just three hits in 4.1 innings of work. Junior Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) entered in relief and surrendered just one unearned run in 1.2 innings.
Valpo (9-13, 1-5 MVC) will make its second attempt to play a home opener on Wednesday afternoon when it hosts IUPUI for a single game.