Valparaiso (3-21, 0-6 MVC)
March 29 - at Purdue Fort Wayne (6-18, 0-2 Horizon) - 2:30 p.m. CT
March 31 - Missouri State (16-15, 6-2 MVC) - 3 p.m. | April 1 - Missouri State - 2 p.m. | April 2 - Missouri State - noon
Next Up in Valpo Softball: The Valpo softball team faces four games this week, taking a step away from conference play on Wednesday afternoon to play at Purdue Fort Wayne before returning home for a three-game series this weekend against Missouri State.
Previously: Valpo opened the home slate last weekend against Illinois State, dropping three games to the Redbirds.
Looking Ahead: Valpo is scheduled to play nine straight games away from home following the Missouri State series. The Beacons play a single game at UIC next Tuesday, April 4, and then head down to Murray State for a three-game series April 7-9.
Following Valpo Softball: No video streams will be available for this week's games. Live stats will be available for all four games.
Head Coach Meaggan Pettipiece: Meaggan Pettipiece was hired in September 2022 as head coach of the Valpo softball program. Pettipiece brings over a decade of experience as a collegiate head coach, most recently the last three seasons at the Division I level at Akron. Prior to her time at Akron, Pettipiece spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Kent State and was head coach at Northwood for 10 years. Pettipiece, who owns 253 career coaching victories, was an All-American on the diamond and helped California University of Pennsylvania to a D-II national title in 1998 collegiately before playing internationally for Team Canada, including at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Series Notes: Purdue Fort Wayne - A series that dates back to 1987, Valpo owns a 25-14 advantage over the Mastodons. Valpo has won the last three meetings, including a 5-4 victory at the Valpo Softball Complex last season. Regi Hecker went 3-for-4 with a two-RBI single in the sixth inning, accounting for the game-winning runs.
Missouri State - The Bears are 9-4 all-time against Valpo, with 11 of those 13 games coming since Valpo joined the MVC. MSU swept the season series last season in Springfield by scores of 8-0, 3-2 and 8-0.
Scouting the Opposition: Purdue Fort Wayne - The Mastodons enter Wednesday's game at 6-18 overall and with an 0-2 record in Horizon League play. Grace Hollopeter (.309, 12 R, 4 HR) and Taryn Jenkins (.303, 14 RBI) lead the Purdue Fort Wayne offense, while Alanah Jones has pitched over half the innings in the circle and is 4-8 with a 5.06 ERA.
Missouri State - The Bears are 16-15 overall this year, but own a 6-2 mark in MVC play and carry a seven-game winning streak into Valpo. Olivia Krehbiel hits a team-best .304, while McKenzie Vaughan has connected on seven home runs. Six different Bears have seen action in the circle, led by 69 innings of work from Gracie Johnston (8-5, 2.94 ERA) and a 1.73 ERA in 36.1 innings from Mackenzie Chacon.
What’s Back: Valpo returns 10 of 18 letterwinners from last season’s squad for the 2023 campaign. In all, 40.4% of Valpo’s plate appearances are back for this season and 63.6% of last season’s inning pitched return as well.
Who’s New: This year's 16-player roster includes six newcomers donning the Brown and Gold for the first time. A quintet of freshmen - Kaia Garnica, Kimberli Rodas, Lexi Szostak, Lyna Vasquez and Cadence Augustine - are joined by Kent State transfer Autumn Acord. While Garnica has been sidelined due to injury, the other five all made their Valpo debuts at the DePaul Dome Tournament opening weekend.
Rodas Stays Hot: Freshman infielder Kim Rodas has not blinked yet in her introduction to Missouri Valley Conference play. Rodas reached base in all three games last weekend against Illinois State, going 2-for-5 with four walks. Included in the series was a three-walk game in Friday's nightcap, tying Valpo's single-game high this season and tying for third-most by a Valpo player in a single game in program history. Rodas has posted a six-game on-base streak to kick off MVC play and is slashing .556/.733/.667 through two weekends. She leads all MVC players in on-base percentage in conference-only play.
Johnson Reaches: Rodas wasn't the only Beacon player to reach base five times over the course of Friday's twinbill against Illinois State, as junior infielder Alexis Johnson matched that number. Johnson went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI in the opener, and turned around to go 2-for-2 with a walk, a hit batter and three RBIs in the nightcap. It was the third multi-hit game of the season for Johnson, while her three RBIs were a new career high.
Easy as One, Two, Three: Fifth-year infielder Taylor Herschbach picked up three of Valpo's seven hits in the Friday nightcap against Illinois State, finishing 3-for-4. It was her fifth career game with at least three hits and her first since April 11, 2021 at UNI.
Taking Free Passes: Led by Rodas' three walks in Friday's second game against the Redbirds, Valpo tallied six free passes as a team to tie its single-game high this season. That effort came after drawing four walks in the opener against ISU, led by two walks by Autumn Acord. The Beacons have drawn four or more walks in 13 of their 24 games this season.