March 29, 20241234567RHE
Win: Abbott Badgley (5-5) 6.131122
Loss: Wilming (2-4) 1.045510
Sydney Kennedy (BRADLEY) 413401
Hecker (VALPO) 312100
Beacons Fall in Home Opener
Friday, March 29, 2024
Beacons Fall in Home Opener
Alexis Johnson celebrates her first collegiate home run.

The Valpo softball team got off to a strong start in its home opener against Bradley in MVC action Friday afternoon, as a leadoff home run from senior Alexis Johnson (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) sparked a three-run first inning, but the visiting Braves used a big fifth inning to turn the tide in their favor as the Beacons fell by a 7-4 final.

How It Happened

  • After a scoreless top of the first, it took Valpo just five pitches to get on the board in its first turn at the plate. Johnson took the first four pitches she saw before swinging and driving a 3-1 offering over the fence in center field to put the Beacons on top.
  • Sophomore Kam Utendorf (Columbus Grove, Ohio/Columbus Grove [Black Hawk College]) followed by drawing a walk, but the next two Beacons went down in order as it looked like Valpo might be limited to the single run in the opening frame.
  • Senior Regi Hecker (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Blue Springs South) started the two-out rally with an infield single, followed by sophomore Lexi Szostak (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park) knocking an 0-2 pitch into center to score Utendorf.
  • Senior Emily Crompton (Salem, Ill./Christ Our Rock Lutheran) kept the line moving by knocking an RBI single up the middle, bringing Hecker in to make it 3-0 Beacons. Crompton’s run-scoring hit also served to knock Bradley’s Sydney Kennedy, the reigning MVC Pitcher of the Week, out of the circle.
  • The Braves threatened to immediately cut into Valpo’s lead in the top of the second, loading the bases with one out. Senior Caitlyn Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy) induced a grounder to third which resulted in a force at the plate for the key second out, and followed by getting a soft liner to third to keep Bradley off the board.
  • Valpo added a run to its side of the ledger in the bottom of the third, as freshman Kayden Krug (Milford, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on a Hecker RBI single to push the lead to 4-0 after three complete.
  • Bradley scored all its runs in the top of the fifth, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs on six hits, a walk and a Valpo error to take a 7-4 lead.
  • The Beacons’ best chance at pulling back one or more runs came in the bottom of the sixth, as a Bradley error and a walk turned the lineup over with the potential tying run coming to the plate before a pop-up ended the inning.

Inside the Game

  • Johnson’s home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning was the first collegiate home run for the senior. It came in her 129th career game and 281st career at-bat.
  • Johnson is the first Valpo player to hit a first-inning leadoff home run since Carly Trepanier went deep to start the bottom of the first against IUPUI March 27, 2019. Notably, that game was Valpo’s home opener that season as well.
  • Hecker was the lone Beacon to reach base multiple times on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Her single in the bottom of the first was the 100th hit of her collegiate career.
  • Six different players combined for Valpo’s seven hits.
  • Kowalski started in the circle and went 4.1 innings, giving up just two runs — only one of which was earned. Freshman Anna Wilming (Columbus, Ohio/Olentangy Orange) took the loss in relief, while fellow rookie Sydney McDermott (Stout, Ohio/Portsmouth West) tossed 1.2 innings of shutout relief.

Next Up

Valpo (6-19, 0-4 MVC) closes out the series against Bradley with a Saturday twinbill beginning at noon.