Valpo softball senior Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) delivered a two-run homer three batters into Tuesday’s game at UIC, which proved to be enough offense for Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) and the Beacons’ defense as Valpo earned a 2-1 win in MVC play in Chicago.
How It Happened
- Fifth-year Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) watched four straight pitches go by to lead off the game with a walk. She then stole second base during Kehlenbrink’s at-bat, one pitch before the senior launched a shot over the wall in left-center to give Valpo a 2-0 lead.
- That turned out to be the only runs Valpo scored on the day, but it wasn’t for lack of baserunners. The Beacons had at least one runner in scoring position in five of the seven innings, but went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
- For Seib on this day, though, two runs were plenty to work with. The first threat against her came in the third, as UIC led off the frame with three straight singles. But the initial base hit was erased on a caught stealing from Kehlenbrink to Herschbach, and Seib picked up consecutive outs with runners on first and second to end the inning.
- Those two outs started a stretch of eight straight batters retired by Seib.
- UIC started out the bottom of the sixth with consecutive singles, and back-to-back groundouts plated the Flames’ first run of the game and moved the potential tying run to third base with two outs. Once again, Seib induced a grounder, this one to first for the third out of the inning to maintain the 2-1 lead.
- Seib quickly got back-to-back grounders back to the circle for the first two outs of the seventh, but a single and a hit by pitch put the potential tying and winning runs on base for UIC. Facing the Flames’ leadoff hitter, Seib went to her changeup on each of the first two pitches of the at-bat to get a pair of strikes looking, and working well ahead in the count, was able to get a ground ball to second to close out the victory.
Inside the Game
- Tuesday’s game renewed a longstanding rivalry, as Valpo and UIC met for the 87th time — the most-common opponent in Valpo history.
- Valpo has won each of its last three games against the Flames in Chicago.
- Kehlenbrink’s home run was her second of the season and the ninth of her career.
- The Beacons have hit three home runs over the last five games after entering last week with just one on the season.
- Juniors Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) and Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) both had two-hit games, pairing a single with a double. Hecker’s double, which moved her into a tie for the team lead this year, was a first-inning shot which hit off the top of the outfield wall.
- Johnson’s 2-for-4 day pushed her batting average in Valley play to .304, a team best.
- Sophomore Kaiah Fenters (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) registered the first extra-base hit of her collegiate career with a second-inning double.
- The lone player still on the roster from the last time Valpo and UIC met in 2019, Herschbach reached base twice as well on Tuesday with a bunt single and a walk. She leads the team with 13 free passes this year.
- Seib threw a complete game for the second straight game, improving to 3-12 on the season with the victory. She scattered six hits and did not walk a single batter while allowing just the one run, throwing 67 of her 93 pitches for strikes.
Valpo (4-25, 1-9 MVC) continues Valley play by visiting another conference newcomer this weekend, as the Beacons trek to Murray, Ky. for a three-game series at Murray State. The series is slated to begin on Friday evening at 5 p.m.