The Valpo softball team saw its time at THE Spring Games in Longwood, Fla. begin on Friday with a pair of extra-inning affairs, as the Brown and Gold fell in nine innings to Saint Louis, 3-2, before rebounding for a 5-4 win in 10 innings over Niagara.
How It Happened – Saint Louis
- Both teams threatened with multiple runners on in the first inning. Playing as the visiting team, Valpo put two runners in scoring position on a walk and an error with two outs, but both were stranded after a strikeout.
- Saint Louis loaded the bases in the bottom of the first on a walk, a single and an error with just one out. But junior Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley]) kept the Billikens off the board with back-to-back strikeouts.
- Neither team got another runner past second base until the sixth inning.
- Valpo broke the seal on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth. Freshman Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) led off the frame with a single, and two batters later, junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) drove her in with an RBI double to give Valpo the lead.
- The lead was short-lived, however, as SLU countered with an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out RBI single.
- The game headed into extra innings, where the international tiebreak was enforced starting with the eighth. Valpo plated a run in the top of the frame on an RBI base knock from sophomore Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus), but the Billikens got a one-out run-scoring single of their own to extend the game to the ninth.
- A pair of groundouts after a successful sacrifice meant that Valpo was unable to score in its half of the ninth, and Saint Louis walked off with the win on a run-scoring single from Sadie Wise.
How It Happened – Niagara
- Niagara opened the scoring with single runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings, both of which scored on sacrifice flies.
- Valpo took the lead in the bottom of the fifth thanks to consecutive hits with runners in scoring position. Sophomore Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) was hit by a pitch with one out and sophomore Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) followed with a walk.
- Senior Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) stepped up and delivered a two-run triple over the right fielder’s head to tie the game. Sophomore Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) followed with an RBI single to give Valpo the 3-2 lead.
- Valpo carried the one-run lead into the top of the seventh, but Niagara plated a run on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3 and force the Brown and Gold to play their second extra-innings game of the day.
- Neither squad scored with the international tiebreak in place in the eighth. The Purple Eagles scored immediately in the top of the ninth on an RBI double, but a nice 9-4-5 relay caught the batter trying to extend to a triple and helped avoid any further damage.
- Herschbach connected on a run-scoring single back up the middle in the bottom of the ninth to again tie the game and extend it to a 10th
- Freshman Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) kept Niagara off the board for the second time in three international tiebreak innings, and Moeder scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th on a Niagara error.
Inside the Games
- Friday was the sixth game day this year that Valpo has played twice in one day. All six times, the Brown and Gold have split the two games.
- This is the first time Valpo has played a pair of extra-inning games in the same day since Feb. 23, 2013.
- Valpo is now 4-3 in one-run games this year. Nearly half of its games to date (seven of 16) have been decided by one run.
- Anderson connected on a pair of doubles to lead the Valpo offense against SLU, while Tonoian reached base three times on a hit and two walks.
- Packard took the tough-luck loss against SLU to fall to 3-4 this year. The junior did not surrender an earned run in 8.1 innings of work, scattering seven hits and matching her career high set earlier this year with 12 strikeouts.
- Moeder connected on three hits out of the leadoff spot in the order to pace the Valpo offense in the win over Niagara.
- Senior Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) started in the circle against Niagara and took a no-decision, striking out seven while allowing three runs in 6.1 innings of work.
- Seib improved to 3-1 this year as she earned the victory against the Purple Eagles. The rookie tossed 3.2 innings of two-hit ball, striking out three and giving up just a sole run in three innings of international tiebreak work.
Valpo (8-8) continues action from Florida with two more games Saturday afternoon, facing North Carolina A&T at 3 p.m. and Longwood at 5:30 p.m.