Valpo softball freshman Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) enjoyed a game to remember in her fourth career game in a Valpo uniform Saturday afternoon in Houston, going 4-for-4 and connecting on a key 3-run home run in the sixth inning of a 6-5 victory over Fordham. Valpo split two games for the second straight day, as earlier in the day, Northwestern State posted a 6-1 win over the Brown and Gold.
How It Happened – Northwestern State
- The Demons took a 2-0 lead through their first two turns at the plate, scoring on an RBI groundout in the first inning and a Valpo error in the second frame.
- Valpo loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth on a walk to junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll), a single from sophomore Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) and a single by junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley]) – her first career hit.
- Two batters later, sophomore Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) delivered an RBI single to cut the deficit in half, but a fly out kept it a 2-1 game entering the sixth.
- Anderson delivered a two-out single in the sixth, but was stranded at first. NSU then capped the scoring with a two-out grand slam in the top of the seventh.
How It Happened – Fordham
- Valpo never trailed in its second victory in as many days over Fordham, which has won Atlantic 10 championships each of the last seven years. The Brown and Gold jumped on top in the top of the first, as freshman Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) walked with one out and eventually came around on a Fordham error on the back end of a double steal with sophomore Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township).
- The lead doubled in the second inning. Senior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) led off with a single, stole second and came around to score on a base knock from junior Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn).
- Fordham tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run, two-out single, but Valpo answered immediately in the top of the fifth. Tonoian stepped up with the bases loaded and two outs and delivered a run-scoring single to bring home Herschbach.
- The Crusaders added what proved to be three key insurance runs in their half of the sixth. A single from sophomore Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) and a walk to Herschbach put two runners on with two outs and Kehlenbrink walking to the plate. The rookie wasted no time, driving the first pitch she saw over the left-center fence for her first career home run, pushing Valpo’s lead to 6-2.
- Those runs ended up being critical, as Fordham scored one run on an error and two more on a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth to pull within 6-5.
- With the lead down to one and runners on the corners, freshman Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) was summoned from the bullpen and induced a lineout to strand the two runners and maintain the advantage. Seib then set down the Fordham side in order in the seventh to close out the win.
Inside the Games
- Kehlenbrink’s three-run homer against the Rams capped a 4-for-4 game at the plate. It was the first four-hit game by a Valpo player this season.
- Kehlenbrink snapped a streak of five consecutive games in which no Valpo freshman has posted a four-hit performance, as Herschbach had an identical 4-for-4 line in last season’s MVC Tournament opener versus Evansville.
- Not to be overlooked is the 3-for-4 effort at the plate from Tonoian, the first multi-hit game of her Valpo career.
- Herschbach went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, while Moeder picked up a pair of hits as well.
- As a team, Valpo tallied 14 hits against Fordham, the team’s highest hit total since posting 16 hits last season in the suspended early-March game against Wagner.
- Moeder also stole two bases in the win over Fordham as the Crusaders finished with four steals for the first time since a win over Nevada in March of 2018.
- Senior Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) earned the victory in the circle, as she surrendered just two earned runs in 5.2 innings of work. Seib set down all four batters she faced for her first career save.
- Both of Valpo’s wins over Fordham in the season’s first two days have come by one run. Valpo is 2-0 in one-run games so far this year after going just 3-6 in such games last season.
- The opener against NSU saw Anderson reach base three times: a single, a walk and a hit batter.
- Packard took the loss against the Demons to fall to 1-1 despite giving up just one earned run in a complete-game effort and striking out five. At the plate, Packard’s first career hit came in the first plate appearance of her tenure at Valpo.
Valpo (2-2) looks to leave Houston with a winning record as it closes play at the Houston Invitational Sunday morning versus UMass Lowell at 9 a.m. Live stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.