Valparaiso (3-24, 0-9 MVC)
April 4 - at UIC (0-31, 0-9 MVC) - 3 p.m. (start time moved up from original 5 p.m.)
April 7 - at Murray State (21-14, 6-4 MVC) - 5 p.m. | April 8 - at Murray State - 2 p.m. | April 9 - at Murray State - noon
Next Up in Valpo Softball: The Missouri Valley Conference slate rolls on this week for Valpo softball, with four games on the schedule. The Beacons open with their first midweek game against travel partner UIC in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. (start time moved up from original 5 p.m.), and then make the trek down to Murray, Ky. for a three-game weekend series against Murray State.
Previously: Valpo went extra innings in midweek action at Purdue Fort Wayne last Wednesday, but the Mastodons eventually earned a 6-5 win in nine innings. Missouri State earned a three-game sweep of the weekend series at the Valpo Softball Complex.
Looking Ahead: Valpo will step away from Valley play for the final time this season next Tuesday, April 11, with a doubleheader at Northern Illinois. The Beacons then pick up MVC play next weekend, April 14-16, at Bradley.
Following Valpo Softball: All four games this week are slated for streaming on The Valley on ESPN. Saturday's game at Murray State will be on ESPN3, while the other three will be on ESPN+. Live stats will be available as well 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: UIC - Valpo renews acquaintances with the most common opponent in program history Tuesday, as the Flames and Beacons will meet for the 87th time. UIC holds a 66-20 advantage in the all-time series, but it was Valpo which came out victorious in the most recent meeting, a 9-6 win in Chicago on April 3, 2019. Taylor Herschbach hit her first career homer in that meeting, highlighting a 2-for-3, two walks, two runs, two RBI performance.
Murray State - First meeting.
Scouting the Opposition: UIC - The Flames sit at 0-31 and are 0-9 in MVC play, most recently dropping a three-game series to Illinois State. Carlee Jo Clark leads the offense, hitting .295 with a .475 slugging percentage. In the circle, Christina Toniolo has seen the most work, posting a 5.04 ERA in 83.1 innings.
Murray State - The Racers carry a 21-14 overall record and a 6-4 mark in Valley play into this week, most recently taking two of three games last weekend at Drake. Gracie Osbron leads the MSU offense, hitting .326 with a team-best 23 RBIs. In the circle, Hannah James boasts a 1.72 ERA and is one of the nation's top strikeout pitchers, K'ing 121 batters in 89.1 innings of work.
Going Deep: Valpo had a pair of players connect on their first collegiate home runs last week. In midweek action at Purdue Fort Wayne, freshman Kim Rodas connected on a three-run blast which gave Valpo the lead against the Mastodons in the fifth inning. Then on Sunday, in the first game of the doubleheader, sophomore Lauren Sena connected in the fourth inning on a shot which cleared the left-center fence at the Valpo Softball Complex. Not only was that Sena's first collegiate home run, it was her first career hit as well, making her the first Valpo player since 2017 to register a home run for her first career hit.
Reaching Base: Fifth-year infielder Taylor Herschbach reached base in each of Valpo's four games last week. The veteran drew a pair of walks in the midweek contest at Purdue Fort Wayne and has now walked a team-best 12 times this year. She closed the week by leading off for the first time since March 27, 2021 and going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI triple. It was Herschbach's first career game with multiple extra-base hits, and the triple was her first since a three-bagger at Illinois State May 1, 2022.
Streak Comes to an End: Freshman infielder Kim Rodas extended her on-base streak to seven straight games with her home run at Purdue Fort Wayne, but an 0-for-3 game in the series opener with Missouri State snapped the streak. Despite that, Rodas still ranks among the Valley's best through three weekends of conference-only play in both walks (7, t-6th) and on-base percentage (.522, 10th).
Welcome Kaia G: Freshman infielder Kaia Garnica was not in uniform for Valpo's first 25 games of the year as she recovered from injury, but finally made her Beacon debut this weekend. Garnica was thrown right into the lineup, starting the first two games of the MSU series at designated player and the third game at first base. Garnica reached base for the first time when she was hit by a pitch in her third plate appearance in Friday's series opener, and picked up her first hit and first RBI on Sunday in the series finale.
Tough Luck Loss: Senior pitcher Easton Seib was charged with the loss at Purdue Fort Wayne on Wednesday despite not allowing an earned run in 4.1 innings of relief work. It was the second time this season Seib has thrown multiple innings without giving up an earned run (Feb. 10 shutout of Western Illinois) and the 10th time in her career she has done so. Seib also matched her season best with five strikeouts against the Mastodons.