April 06, 20241234567RHE
Win: McDermott (4-10) 7.092224
Loss: Summers (6-4) 6.064219
Barnes (BEL) 212020
Cockrill (BEL) 412100
Ledbetter (BEL) 302100
Johnson (VALPO) 312100
Rodas (VALPO) 302200

April 06, 20241234567RHE
Win: Johnson (11-3) 4.010009
Loss: Kowalski (2-7) 2.247751
Ensio (BEL) 423100
Johnson (VALPO) 311000
Rodas (VALPO) 301100
Hecker (VALPO) 301000

April 07, 20241234567RHE
Win: Johnson (12-3) 5.040008
Loss: McDermott (4-11) 4.277652
Gressly (BEL) 312211
Blume (BEL) 412301
Szostak (VALPO) 302000
Softball Continues Homestand This Weekend Versus Belmont
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Softball Continues Homestand This Weekend Versus Belmont

Valparaiso (7-20, 1-5 MVC)
April 5 - Belmont (22-9, 8-2 MVC) - 3 p.m.
April 6 - Belmont - 2 p.m.
April 7 - Belmont - noon

Next Up in Valpo Softball: An eight-game homestand continues for the Valpo softball team this weekend as Belmont comes to town for a three-game MVC series. The Beacons look to carry momentum into this weekend from the end of last weekend's series, which ended with a thrilling walk-off win in 10 innings over Bradley.

Previously: The Beacons opened their 2024 home slate last weekend with a three-game series against Bradley. The Braves used a seven-run fifth inning in the opener to earn a 7-4 win, and then won a pitcher's duel in the middle game, 3-0 in 10 innings. Valpo claimed the series finale, a 10-inning affair as well, as Alexis Johnson delivered a walk-off double.

Looking Ahead: The eight-game homestand concludes next week with a pair of midweek Valley games against UIC April 9 and 10. The Beacons then hit the road next weekend, heading to Illinois State for a three-game series April 12-14.

Following Valpo Softball: All three games this weekend are scheduled to be broadcast live on ESPN+. All games will also have live stats available, linked at ValpoAthletics.com.

Interim Head Coach Laney Jones: In her second season on staff, Laney Jones took over as interim head coach of the Valpo softball program on April 1, 2024. Jones came to Valpo in October 2022 after spending the 2022 season working as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio. Jones pitched two seasons apiece collegiately at Ashland University (2018-19) and Marshall University (2020-21).

Series Notes: Valpo is 2-4 all-time against Belmont, with the most recent meetings coming in February 27 in a doubleheader in Nashville - the two squads split that twinbill, with Belmont winning 2-1 in the opener before Valpo earned a 9-1 win in the nightcap. Caitlyn Kowalski earned the complete-game win in the second game, surrendering just one run and striking out eight, while Kayla Skapyak went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored in the victory. While this is Belmont's second season in the Valley, the Bruins were one of two programs the Beacons did not play last year.

Scouting the Opposition: Belmont enters this weekend's series with a 22-9 overall record and sits in second place in the Valley standings with an 8-2 record in MVC play. The Bruins are on an eight-game winning streak dating back to March 17, during which time they have surrendered just seven runs. Nicole Hughes leads the Belmont offense, hitting .396 with 21 runs scored and 26 RBIs, while in the circle, Maya Johnson has pitched the most innings and is 10-3 with a 1.51 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 79 innings of work.

Who's Back: Valpo returns 12 of 16 letterwinners from last year's squad for the 2024 season. In all, 69.2% of Valpo's plate appearances are back for this season and 49.4% of last season's innings pitched return.

Who's New: A group of nine newcomers joined the Beacons for the 2024 season. Kam Utendorf transferred in after playing her freshman season at Black Hawk College, joining eight true freshmen on this year's team.

A Large Roster: The combination of 12 returnees and nine newcomers gives Valpo a 21-player roster for the 2024 campaign. That's a five-player increase over last season's group of 16 players, and it is the largest roster the softball program has had since fielding 21 players for the 2008 season.

A Long Day at the Ballpark: Seven innings weren't enough to decide either game in Valpo's doubleheader against Bradley last Saturday, as both contests required 10 innings of softball to come out with a winner. It is just the second time in program history Valpo has played at least 10 innings twice in the same day — a twinbill April 8, 2006 at IUPUI featured a 10-inning opener, followed by an 11-inning nightcap. It also marks just the fifth time in program history Valpo has played at least 20 innings of softball in one day.

A Valiant Effort: While the result didn’t go her way, freshman Sydney McDermott’s effort in the circle in the opener Saturday was admirable. The freshman needed just 104 pitches to spin nine shutout innings to open the game before running into trouble in the 10th. McDermott became the first pitcher in program history to pitch nine consecutive shutout innings within the same game, while it was also the first game in program history to go into the 10th inning tied 0-0. McDermott ended up surrendering just four hits on the day.

Walking it Off: Senior Alexis Johnson capped the first weekend of home action with a bang, lining a double to right-center field to score Lyna Vasquez to give Valpo a 3-2 win in 10 innings over Bradley in the series finale. Johnson’s walk-off was Valpo’s first since Morgan Matalin sent everyone home happy with a walk-off homer in a neutral-site game against Cleveland State March 8, 2020. Valpo’s last walk-off at home prior to Saturday came on April 9, 2019 against Indiana State, courtesy of Taylor Herschbach.

Going Yard: Johnson bookended her weekend with big hits, as leading off the bottom of the first of Friday's series opener against the Braves, the senior lined a 3-1 pitch to straightaway center field for a solo homer to give Valpo the lead. The round-tripper was the first of Johnson's collegiate career, in her 129th career game. She 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.

Plenty of Chances: While Valpo's win in the series finale came by a relatively benign score of 3-2, the scoreline doesn't speak to the number of chances both teams had. Both Bradley and Valpo left 15 runners on base in the finale, including combining to leave the bases loaded three times. The 15 left on base by the Braves were the most by a Valpo opponent since Drake left 15 on base April 25, 2021, while the Beacons' 15 left on were the program's most in a single game since stranding 17 in a 14-inning showdown against Youngstown State May 4, 2013.

CK in the Circle: One season after throwing a no-hitter against Bradley, senior pitcher Caitlyn Kowalski enjoyed a pair of strong outings against the Braves last weekend. She opened the weekend by giving up just two runs (one earned) in 4.1 innings of work in the series opener, and closed the weekend with a win in the series finale, surrendering just three hits and one run in 6.2 innings of relief.

Simply Hitting: In her first season of D-I softball, sophomore Kam Utendorf has been strong from the left side of the plate. While she had an off weekend last weekend, Utendorf still ranks third in the MVC with a .394 batting average. She is challenging the .400 barrier, a mark only three players in Valpo history have surpassed in a season. In the second weekend of play this year, Utendorf became Valpo's first MVC Newcomer of the Week since May 2019, slashing .643/.708/.786 in action at Presbyterian.

Hecker Hacking: Senior outfielder Regi Hecker has carried a strong end to her 2023 campaign into this 2024 season. Hecker is batting .360 this season and reaching base at a .455 clip, both of which rank among the top-10 in the MVC. She led the way last weekend against Bradley at the plate, going 4-for-9 and reaching base at a .583 clip. Hecker reached base at least once in all three games and had a pair of multi-hit games. Her weekend culminated as she reached base four times in the series finale, going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks.

Home Sweet Home: Seven straight weekends on the road meant Valpo's home opener this weekend has been a long time coming. Originally scheduled to play 30 games over trips to Texas A&M, Presbyterian, Chattanooga, Indiana, Omaha, Evansville and Drake, the Beacons got 24 of those games in before opening at home last Friday against Belmont. Over the regular season's final six weeks, Valpo is slated for 18 home games and just seven road games.

Offensive Bests: This year's team put together a number of strong offensive performances in preconference play:
- 13 runs Feb. 16 in win over Morehead State, the program's largest scoring output since March 2019
- 13 hits Feb. 18 in win over Youngstown State, the program's highest single-game hits total since Feb. 2022
- 6 runs March 2 at Indiana, the program's largest scoring output against a Power Five team since March 2012
- 12-4 run-rule win over Bowling Green March 3, the program's first run-rule win since closing the 2022 regular season with a 10-0 win over Evansville

McDermott Mows Them Down: Freshman Sydney McDermott came to Valpo after earning Ohio All-State honors each of her last three years of high school, and has showcased that form in a number of starts this season. McDermott became the first Valpo player to throw complete games in three straight starts and surrender three or fewer hits in all three since Andrea Zappia in 2008, throwing a three-hitter against Texas A&M-CC, a eight-inning two-hitter versus Georgetown and a three-hitter against Bowling Green - a game which featured her retiring 15 Falcons hitters in a row.

International Experience: Sophomore infielder Kim Rodas continued her international career playing for Mexico over the summer, as she earned a bronze medal at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. Rodas previously medaled with Team Mexico at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games, where her squad claimed the silver.