The Valpo softball program opened the 2022 season, its first with Amanda Eberhart at the helm of the program, on Thursday evening at the DePaul Dome Tournament in Rosemont, Ill. facing two of the Big East’s projected top-five teams. After falling to the host Blue Demons 8-0 in the opener, the Beacons took Butler to extra innings before dropping a 7-5 final in the international tiebreak.
How It Happened – DePaul
- Valpo pitcher Caitlyn Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy) pitched out of a jam in the first inning after the first two DePaul batters reached, keeping the Blue Demons off the board.
- DePaul plated two runs in the second inning and four in the third before a two-run single in the fifth closed out the game.
How It Happened – Butler
- Facing a pitcher in Karli Ricketts who was a First Team All-Big East selection last season, Valpo jumped out on top Thursday. Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) led off the bottom of the first with a double and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.
- Butler evened things up with a run in the top of the second before Valpo regained the lead in the bottom of the third on a solo homer from Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West).
- The Bulldogs scored two in the fourth to take their first lead of the game, 3-2.
- The Beacons evened the score in the bottom of the fifth. Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) led off the frame with a walk, and pinch-runner Lauren Sena (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) advanced 60 feet at a tie, finally scoring on a passed ball to tie the game, 3-3.
- Both teams had opportunities in the final two innings of regulation, getting the potential go-ahead run into scoring position, but were unable to convert as the game advanced into extra innings.
- Playing under international tiebreak rules once the game hit extra innings, Butler pushed across four runs in the top of the eighth, including what proved to be a key two-out, two-run double.
- Valpo wouldn’t go down without a fight in its half of the eighth, however. Pinch-hitter Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) delivered an RBI double to lead off the frame, and later in the inning, Kate Beckemeyer (Forsyth, Ill./Maroa-Forsyth [Parkland]) drove in Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Waterford) with a grounder to make it a two-run game. The Beacons got the potential tying run to the plate, but were unable to complete the rally.
Inside the Games
- 16 of Valpo’s 19 players saw action over Thursday’s two games.
- All four Valpo freshmen made their collegiate debuts on Thursday. Addi Weaver (Shelbyville, Ind./Shelbyville) started both games and recorded a multi-hit game — including a double — against Butler. Kaiah Fenters (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) started one game and appeared as a pinch-runner in the other, while Sena scored a run in her pinch-running appearance versus Butler. Cheyenne Nietz (Machesney Park, Ill./Harlem) tossed an inning of relief against DePaul.
- Beckemeyer, Moeder and Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) each recorded hits in both of Thursday’s contests.
- Milkowski’s home run against the Bulldogs was the third round-tripper of her collegiate career.
- Kowalski started in the circle and took the loss versus DePaul, while Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) tossed all eight innings against Butler and struck out a career-best seven batters.
Valpo (0-2) continues action from Rosemont on Friday afternoon when it faces Eastern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Live stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.