It was a dream debut for freshman pitcher Caitlyn Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy), as in her first collegiate start, she tossed a one-hitter to lead Valpo to a 3-1 victory over Western Illinois in the first of two games for the Brown and Gold Saturday at the DePaul Dome Tournament in Rosemont, Ill. In its second game, Valpo dropped a 3-2 decision to Kansas City in the international tiebreak.
How It Happened – Western Illinois
- Valpo jumped on top immediately in the first inning, batting as the home team. Junior Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) led off with an infield single and promptly stole second. After a sacrifice bunt, sophomore Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) drove a double to the gap in left-center to plate Moeder for the 1-0 lead.
- The lead doubled in the bottom of the fourth as senior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) led off the frame with a homer down the left-field line.
- Kowalski had rolled through the first four innings of her career without giving up a hit, but needed a little assistance from her defense to complete the fifth hitless. Moeder came sprinting in from center to make a diving catch on a line drive to lead off the inning, and later, with two outs, Milkowski made a leaping catch on a liner down the third-base line to rob a potential WIU hit.
- Western Illinois broke up Kowalski’s no-hitter bid, as well as the shutout, with a two-out homer in the sixth on a full-count pitch by Ashley Minyard.
- Valpo got that run right back in the bottom of the sixth thanks to the speed of freshman Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central). Pinch-running with two outs in the inning, Johnson stole second on the second pitch of the next at-bat, and then took off again on the very next pitch, swiping third and coming all the way around to score on a WIU throwing error.
- Given the extra cushion, Kowalski made quick work of the Leathernecks in the seventh, retiring the side on nine pitches and closing out the victory with a strikeout.
How It Happened – Kansas City
- Valpo jumped on the board right away in the first inning for the second straight game, as a run-scoring double by Anderson and an RBI single from senior Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) gave Valpo an early 2-0 advantage.
- Valpo looked like it might add to the lead after junior Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) connected on a one-out triple in the third, but she was stranded on third.
- The Roos cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fifth, scoring on a two-out error by Valpo. They looked poised to potentially tie the game in the sixth, putting runners on second and third with one out, but sophomore Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) induced consecutive groundouts to keep it a 2-1 Valpo lead.
- The bottom of the seventh saw KC turn a leadoff single into the tying run on a sacrifice fly. Later in the inning, the Roos had runners on the corners with two outs before Kowalski entered in relief and registered a strikeout to send the game into extra innings.
- With a runner placed on second with nobody out in the international tiebreak, neither team was able to score in the eighth inning. The Roos got their runner to third with nobody out, but Kowalski induced a pair of shallow fly balls and then recorded a strikeout to keep them off the board.
- But the ninth inning saw KC sacrifice its runner to third and then connect on a fly ball which was deep enough for a sacrifice fly to give it the walk-off win.
Inside the Games
- Kowalski finished her first career start surrendering just the one hit and striking out nine Western Illinois hitters to earn the victory in her debut.
- It was the fewest hits surrendered by a Valpo pitcher since Kelsie Packard split a no-hitter against Wagner over two days on March 1 and 3, 2019.
- The freshman also took the tough-luck loss in relief in the second game despite allowing just one baserunner on a bunt single over two innings.
- Seib received a no-decision against the Roos, allowing just one earned run in 6.2 innings of work while scattering eight hits.
- Milkowski notched a multi-hit game against Western Illinois, while Burke posted two hits versus Kansas City. Overall for Burke, she reached base four times on the day, as she also had a hit and a walk against the Leathernecks.
- Anderson reached base four times over the two games as well, including three times with a hit and two free passes against KC.
- Anderson’s home run was the sixth of her Valpo career and her first since going deep at UNI on April 14, 2019.
- Valpo stole four bases in the win over WIU, as Milkowski notched one along with Moeder’s one and Johnson’s two. The four steals are the most since Valpo swiped four bases in a win over Fordham on opening weekend last year.
Valpo (1-2) gets another crack at the Roos on Sunday, as it closes tournament play with a second game against Kansas City at 9 a.m.