The Valpo softball team opened its final pre-conference weekend Saturday at the Red & Black Challenge from Louisville, Ky., falling 8-0 to host Louisville and 8-5 to Western Kentucky in the first day of tournament action.
How It Happened – Louisville
- The Cardinals scored their first run three batters into the bottom of the first on an RBI double from Taylor Roby. Freshman Caitlyn Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy) got consecutive outs in the air to limit Louisville to just the one first-inning tally.
- Kowalski did well to keep the Cardinals to just one run through the first five innings, stranding a total of five Louisville runners on base over the next four frames — four of whom were in scoring position.
- Offensively, Valpo’s best threat came in the top of the third, as senior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) and sophomore Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) opened the inning with back-to-back singles. But Valpo was not able to advance a runner past second base that frame.
- Anderson walked with one out in the fifth and pinch-runner Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) stole second, but would be stranded there.
- Junior Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) reached to lead off the sixth and became the first Valpo runner to advance to third base, but wasn’t able to complete the trip around the bases.
- Louisville closed the game with seven runs in the bottom of the sixth.
How It Happened – WKU
- The Hilltoppers got a solo homer to open the top of the first and then plated five runs in their turn at the plate in the second inning.
- Valpo started its comeback effort in the bottom of the second with a two-out RBI single from junior Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington).
- Freshman Kayla Skapyak (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) walked with two outs in the third and came all the way around to score on a double by sophomore Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) to make it 6-2.
- Skapyak repeated the feat in the fifth inning, drawing a two-out free pass and taking advantage of a pair of wild pitches to cut the WKU lead to 6-3.
- The Hilltoppers scored another run in the top of the sixth, but Valpo came right back with two in its half of the inning as senior Addi Burke (Mesquite, Texas/John Horn) delivered a two-run double with two outs to make it a 7-5 ballgame.
- WKU added a run in the top of the seventh for what proved to be the final margin. Milkowski walked and junior Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) singled to lead off the seventh inning to bring the potential tying run to the plate with nobody out, but WKU reliever Kelsey Aikey came in and struck out the side to close out the game.
Inside the Games
- Milkowski reached base in all four of her plate appearances against WKU with a base hit, two walks and a hit batter.
- Anderson, Skapyak, Tonoian and Westphal all reached twice against the Hilltoppers as well.
- Despite tallying just five hits against WKU, Valpo used six walks and two hit batters to create offensive opportunities to score its five runs.
- The Brown and Gold had chances to plate even more runs in the loss against the Hilltoppers, finishing the game with nine runners left on base and going just 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
- Sophomore Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) took the loss against WKU in the circle as she threw the first six innings, falling to 1-4 on the year. Seib surrendered just one run in her final four innings of work.
- Valpo was limited to just four baserunners in its loss against Louisville. Anderson went 1-for-1 with a walk to reach in both of her trips to the plate.
- Kowalski pitched a strong first five innings in the losing effort as her record dropped to 3-3.
Valpo (4-8) closes the pre-conference schedule on Sunday with a rematch against WKU to finish up action from Louisville. First pitch has been moved up to noon CT.