Valparaiso (7-30, 3-13 MVC)
April 19 - UIC (1-38, 0-16 MVC) - 4 p.m.
April 21 - Drake (11-27, 4-12 MVC) - 3 p.m. | April 22 - Drake - 2 p.m. | April 23 - Drake - noon
Next Up in Valpo Softball: Coming off a series win last weekend at Bradley which featured a no-hitter from Caitlyn Kowalski, the Valpo softball team returns home for four games this week. The Beacons welcome UIC to town on Wednesday, looking to claim that season series with a win, and then take on Drake in a three-game set over the weekend.
Previously: Valpo split a midweek doubleheader at Northern Illinois before taking two of three games at Bradley over the weekend. In addition to Kowalski's no-hitter against the Braves, Easton Seib threw one-hitters against both NIU and Bradley.
Looking Ahead: Valpo's final four road games of the regular season await next week, as the Beacons close the season series with UIC on Tuesday before traveling to UNI for a three-game series April 28-30.
Following Valpo Softball: Wednesday's game will not have a video stream, while Friday and Sunday will be on ESPN+ and Saturday on ESPN3. All four games will have live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.
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 257 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 Wednesday, as the two programs meet for the 88th time. UIC holds a 66-21 advantage in the all-time series, but it was the Beacons who claimed the first matchup this season, 2-1, in Chicago. Lauren Kehlenbrink hit a two-run homer in the first inning of that game, while Easton Seib scattered six hits for the complete-game win.
Drake - Valpo is just 1-16 all-time against the Bulldogs, including an 0-11 mark since joining the Valley. Last season, Drake swept a three-game series in Des Moines by scores of 10-2, 5-4 and 5-1.
Scouting the Opposition: UIC - The Flames enter Wednesday's game with a 1-38 overall record, including an 0-16 mark in Valley play. Carlee Jo Clark leads the Flames offensively, slashing .244/.312/.378, while in the circle, Christina Toniolo has pitched over half the innings this season and owns a 4.20 ERA with 62 strikeouts.
Drake - The Bulldogs enter this week at 11-27 overall, and just one game ahead of Valpo in the MVC standings at 4-12 in conference. Emma Dighton has connected on six home runs and leads the team with 18 runs scored and 29 RBIs. Mackenzie Hupke has pitched a team-high 101.1 innings and is 5-7 with a 2.97 ERA and 111 strikeouts.
Winning a Road Series: Valpo earned its first MVC series win of the year last weekend by taking two of three at Bradley. It is just the third series win on the road for the program since joining the Valley, and the first road series win since Valpo's first year in the Valley in 2018, when the team won series at Missouri State and Illinois State.
No-Hitter for Kowalski: Junior pitcher Caitlyn Kowalski lived every pitcher's dream on Saturday, tossing a no-hitter in the opening game of the doubleheader at Bradley. It was the 12th no-hitter in Valpo softball history and the first of Kowalski's collegiate career - her previous best was a one-hitter in her first career start in February 2019 against Western Illinois. It was the first no-hitter by a Valpo pitcher since March 2019, and the first seven inning no-hitter since February 2018. It also was the first no-hitter in program history in a 1-0 game.
Pair of Gems From Seib: Kowalski's no-hitter came on the heels of a pair of tremendous starts in a three-day stretch from senior pitcher Easton Seib. In midweek action at NIU, Seib limited the Huskies - who entered the game hitting better than .270 as a team - to just a sixth-inning infield single in a 3-0 victory. Seib followed on Friday at Bradley with another sterling effort, surrendering just a third-inning infield single in a 2-0 win over the Braves - a game which was 1-0 until the seventh inning. Seib registered a career-high 16 groundouts in the win over the Braves. Seib, whose career best entering the week was a three-hitter, became the first pitcher in program history to throw a one-hitter or better in back-to-back starts, and is the first Valpo pitcher since Emily Richardson in 2018 to throw multiple one-hitters or better in the same season.
More Pitching Beacon Bits: - First time since 2018 Valpo has had at least three one-hitters or better in the same season
- Shortest span between three such games in program history (previous shortest span was 28 days in 2007)
- Second time in program history team threw a one-hitter and no-hitter in consecutive games (March 2002 vs. Philadelphia and St. Thomas Aquinas)
Strong Stretch for Easton: Seib's one-hitters are the highlight of what has been a strong last two weeks for the senior. She has started five of Valpo's nine games in that stretch and made two relief appearances, tossing three complete games and two shutouts. Seib is 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA, allowing opponents to hit just .222 off of her and walking just five batters in 32.1 innings of work.
Hersch Keeps Hitting: Fifth-year infielder Taylor Herschbach has been Valpo's top hitter this year and enjoyed a stellar week at the plate last week. Herschbach slashed .385/.529/.769 over the five games, reaching base at least once in all five contests as she went 5-for-13 with three walks, one hit by pitch, five runs scored, one double, two triples and a stolen base. Herschbach scored Valpo's first two runs in its 3-0 mid-week win at Northern Illinois, scored the eventual game-winning run in the series opener at Bradley and scored the lone run of the middle game at Bradley to clinch the series win. On the season, she is pacing the Beacons in all three slash categories and owns team highs in hits (26), walks (17) and runs scored (14).
Clean Fielding: Another factor in Valpo claiming the series win at Bradley last weekend was the work the Beacon defense put in behind Seib and Kowalski. Valpo tallied 60 putouts and 30 assists over the three games against the Braves without committing a single error. It is the first time since April 27-May 3, 2019 that Valpo has strung together three straight errorless games, and the first time since May 5-6, 2018 at Illinois State that it has played an entire three-game conference series without committing an error.
Erasing Runners: While the Beacons were not errorless in their twinbill last Tuesday at NIU, the defense more than stepped up to erase Huskie baserunners from the basepaths. In game one, Lauren Kehlenbrink threw out two runners trying to steal, while Valpo also registered an out on a baserunner trying to advance on a potential wild pitch. Then, game two featured three runners caught stealing - two by Kehlenbrink and one by Lyna Vasquez - to tie for second-most in a single game in program history. The Beacons also turned two double plays on fly balls to erase baserunners, while left fielder Kayla Skapyak threw out a runner trying to score as well.