The first weekend of the 2023 regular season came to a close for the Valpo softball team on Saturday afternoon at the Dome in Rosemont, Ill., as the Beacons fell 7-2 to Bowling Green and 9-2 to Eastern Kentucky.
How It Happened – Bowling Green
- Valpo threatened immediately in the top of the first, loading the bases with one away on a hit batter, an error and a walk. But the Falcons got a force out at home for the second out and then induced a grounder to keep the Beacons off the board.
- The top three batters in the BGSU order combined to put two runs on the board in its half of the first.
- The Falcons loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the second, but junior Caitlin Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy) registered a strikeout to keep Bowling Green from adding to its lead in that frame.
- BGSU broke the game open with a five-run fourth inning.
- After being held hitless for the first six innings, Valpo broke through to start off the seventh inning. Junior Kayla Skapyak (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) led off the inning with a single into center and junior Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) followed by lining a double the other way down the left-field line to put two in scoring position with nobody out.
- Junior Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) drove in Valpo’s first run of the game with an infield single which plated Skapyak, and fifth year Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) wasted no time at the plate, following with a first-pitch single into right to bring home Hecker. The Beacons were unable to continue their rally, however, as BGSU closed out its win.
How It Happened – Eastern Kentucky
- While senior Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) was allowing just one EKU baserunner in the first three innings, the Valpo offense had opportunities to take the lead. The Beacons drew two walks in the first inning, took a leadoff walk in the second and had two runners on with two out in the third, but none of the chances resulted in runs.
- EKU cracked the scoreboard first in the top of the fourth on a solo homer from Vianna Barron.
- Valpo responded immediately in its turn at the plate in the fourth. Freshman Lyna Vasquez (Moreno Valley, Calif./Valley View) led off with a double to left-center, and two batters later, a single from fellow rookie Kim Rodas (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) put runners on the corners with one out.
- Sophomore Lauren Sena (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) stepped up and laid down a well-placed squeeze bunt, and Vasquez took care of the rest with her slide to tie the game. Rodas advanced all the way to third with the attention on the play at the plate and that extra 60 feet proved critical one batter later, when she was able to scamper home on a groundout by sophomore Kaiah Fenters (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) to give Valpo a 2-1 lead.
- The Beacons maintained the lead into the top of the sixth, when five consecutive EKU batters reached with two outs as the Colonels put three runs on the board to jump in front, 4-2. EKU capped the scoring with five runs in the top of the seventh.
Inside the Games
- Herschbach led Valpo at the plate on Saturday, reaching base four times over the two games — including one hit and two walks against EKU — while also stealing a base.
- Four different players reached base two times apiece against Bowling Green. Senior Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) drew two walks, while Fenters tallied a walk and was hit by a pitch as the Beacons received seven total free passes against the Falcons.
- Kowalski took the loss in the circle against BGSU. Freshman Cadence Augustine (Beaverton, Mich./Beaverton) had a strong relief outing versus the Falcons, tossing 2.2 innings of one-hit ball, striking out three and allowing just an unearned run.
- Johnson and Vasquez reached base multiple times versus EKU in addition to Herschbach’s three times on base.
- While the offense was able to consistently put runners on base, the Beacons struggled to bring them around on Saturday, combining to go 3-for-19 at the plate with runners in scoring position and leaving 19 runners on base over the two games.
- Seib was charged with the defeat in the circle in game two.
Valpo (1-4) will take next weekend away from competition before returning to action on Friday, Feb. 24. The Beacons will play five games over three days at The Spring Games in Madeira Beach, Fla.