No, there isn’t an echo in here. For a second straight start, Valpo softball senior Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) tossed a one-hit shutout, this time blanking Bradley in MVC play as the Beacons opened the series in Peoria with a 2-0 victory over the Braves.
How It Happened
- Just as was the case Tuesday in her previous one-hitter, Seib took the circle with the lead on Friday thanks to the Beacons scoring in the top of the first. Fifth-year Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) and senior Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) connected on 0-2 pitches for singles in consecutive at-bats to put runners on the corners with one out. Junior Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) then laid down a squeeze bunt and Herschbach was able to elude the tag on her slide, giving Valpo a 1-0 lead.
- Seib set the tone for her outing in the circle with a nine-pitch bottom of the first, tallying a strikeout and inducing a pair of groundouts. The senior eventually retired the first seven batters she faced in a row.
- Valpo had a chance to add some insurance in the top of the third following a leadoff single up the middle from junior Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central). Johnson moved over to third with two outs, and after Hecker drew a walk, she swiped second to give the Beacons a pair of runners in scoring position. But they were stranded on second and third as it remained a one-run game.
- Bradley’s lone hit of the game came with one out in the third, an infield single to short. But Seib was able to retire each of the next two batters on grounders to keep the shutout going and start what eventually became a streak of 13 retired in a row.
- The Beacons got another runner into scoring position in the sixth, as Hecker sacrificed pinch-runner Lauren Sena (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) — who ran for Kehlenbrink after a leadoff single — to second with one out. That runner was stranded as well, however.
- Valpo finally found an insurance tally in the top of the seventh. Freshman Lexi Szostak (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park) dumped a one-out pinch-hit single into left field and moved up to second on a walk by fellow freshman Kaia Garnica (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield Central). An error by the Bradley infield allowed Szostak to come around and score, pushing the lead to 2-0.
- Bradley did get the potential tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh following a two-out walk, but fittingly, Seib induced one final ground ball to close out the shutout.
Inside the Game
- Seib became the first known pitcher in program history (full single-game records date back to 1999) to throw a one-hitter or better in two straight starts.
- It was the sixth shutout of Seib’s career, three of which have come this season.
- Seib has back-to-back one-hitters this week after entering the week with a three-hitter as her career-best effort.
- It was an efficient evening in the circle for Seib, as she tossed 72 pitches, 49 of them for strikes. 16 of the 21 outs came via the ground ball — first baseman Autumn Acord (LaGrange, Ohio/Keystone [Kent State]) just missed cracking Valpo’s single-game top-five as she recorded 16 putouts, while Seib and each of the other three infielders all posted at least three assists.
- Playing in their seventh consecutive road game, the Beacons scored in the top of the first inning for the fifth time in those seven games.
- Kehlenbrink and Johnson each had multi-hit games, accounting for four of Valpo’s six hits. Kehlenbrink has six multi-hit games on the season, while Johnson has five such games.
- Hecker posted the rare 0-for-0 line at the plate with an RBI and a stolen base, walking once and laying down two sacrifice bunts.
- Szostak is now 3-for-8 coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter this season.
Valpo (6-29, 2-12 MVC) and Bradley will now conclude their three-game series with a Saturday doubleheader as the teams try to avoid forecasted inclement weather on Sunday. The twinbill will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, with live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.