Valpo softball junior Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) got the final weekend of pre-conference play off to a great start, tossing a three-hit shutout in the Beacons’ opener at the Bluegrass Challenge, while Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) delivered a three-run homer in the 5-0 win over Central Michigan. In the nightcap Thursday, host Louisville scored three runs in the bottom of the first en route to a 3-1 final.
How It Happened – CMU
- The first two innings went by without much of a threat offensively on either side. Seib struck out the Chippewas’ side in the second as the game was scoreless into the third.
- Valpo scored all the runs it would need in the top of the third inning. Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington) led off the inning with a bunt single, and after advancing to second on a grounder, moved over to third on an infield single from Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley).
- Westphal completed her journey around the bases as Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) laid down a bunt single of her own to drive in the game’s first run. Milkowski then stepped up and drove the first pitch she saw over the wall in left-center to push the advantage to 4-0.
- Seib took care of business from there, allowing just two CMU baserunners over the final five innings of action.
- The Beacons brought home an insurance run in the seventh with a two-out rally. Moeder drew a four-pitch walk, stole second, moved up to third on a base hit by Herschbach and then scored on the back end of a double steal.
How It Happened – Louisville
- The Cardinals took advantage of a defensive miscue to lead off the bottom of the first to propel themselves to a 3-0 lead after their first turn at the plate. Two of Louisville’s three runs in the first were unearned.
- Valpo was held to just two hits through the first five innings and was unable to advance a runner past second base over those five frames.
- The Beacons pushed across their only run of the game in the top of the sixth. Milkowski drew a leadoff walk, and pinch-runner Kaiah Fenters (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) moved up 60 feet at a time, making her way to third on a pair of groundouts before Addi Weaver (Shelbyville, Ind./Shelbyville) delivered an RBI single.
Inside the Games
- Seib tossed a gem in Valpo’s victory over CMU, the program’s first over the Chippewas since the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The junior went the distance for her second complete-game shutout of the season, improving to 5-2 on the year as she scattered three hits and walked nobody.
- Seib also struck out nine batters in the win, easily setting a career best in the category. The nine strikeouts also marked a season high for all Valpo pitchers.
- Milkowski’s homer against CMU was her second of the season and the fourth of her Valpo career.
- Herschbach picked up a pair of hits in the win over CMU, while Moeder and Milkowski both reached base twice as well as the top third of the order combined for six appearances on base.
- Moeder stole two bases in as many attempts against the Chippewas. Valpo totaled three stolen bases versus CMU and has swiped three or more bags in four of its last eight games.
- Moeder picked up a hit in the nightcap against Louisville as well, while Kate Beckemeyer (Forsyth, Ill./Maroa-Forsyth [Parkland]) had a hit in both games too.
- Cheyenne Nietz (Machesney Park, Ill./Harlem) took the loss against the Cardinals despite allowing just one earned run in three innings and striking out three. Madison Wathen (Floyds Knobs, Ind./Floyd Central) had a strong relief performance, giving up just two hits in three shutout innings.
Valpo (8-7) continues the Bluegrass Challenge a little over an hour to the east on Saturday, as the Beacons make the move to Kentucky’s campus. Two games are on tap for Friday, as Valpo faces Eastern Kentucky at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN3 before facing the host Wildcats at 4:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network +.