April 09, 2024123456789RHE
Win: CLARK (3-9) 9.041024
Loss: McDermott (4-12) 9.0112202
CRAN (UIC) 513000
Johnson (VALPO) 301010
Hecker (VALPO) 401000
Krug (VALPO) 401000
Crompton (VALPO) 101000

April 10, 20241234567RHE
Win: GOMEZ (2-4) 7.041125
Loss: Kowalski (2-8) 3.243001
COWING (UIC) 312200
CASAS (UIC) 312100
Szostak (VALPO) 302100

April 12, 202412345RHE
Illinois State0316X10100
Win: Meshnick (6-11) 5.030043
Loss: McDermott (4-13) 3.075210
Utendorf (VALPO) 301000
Hecker (VALPO) 301000
Crompton (VALPO) 201000
Wilkerson (ILS) 303300

April 13, 20241234567RHE
Illinois State004130X8142
Win: McLeod (9-8) 7.0113214
Loss: Kowalski (2-9) 3.074421
Crompton (VALPO) 403100
Chval (ILS) 424000

April 14, 20241234567RHE
Illinois State05000128131
Win: McLeod (9-8) 3.252213
Loss: McDermott (4-14) 1.232200
Hecker (VALPO) 412100
Szostak (VALPO) 402200
Bryant (ILS) 412201
Hopkins (ILS) 412000
Wilkerson (ILS) 412000
Masching (ILS) 412200
Busy Stretch of Softball Continues With Five Games This Week
Monday, April 8, 2024
Busy Stretch of Softball Continues With Five Games This Week

Valparaiso (8-22, 2-7 MVC)
April 9 - UIC (12-25, 5-7 MVC) - 3 p.m.
April 10 - UIC - 3 p.m.
April 12 - at Illinois State (13-26, 7-7 MVC) - 5 p.m.
April 13 - at Illinois State - 2 p.m.
April 14 - at Illinois State - noon

Next Up in Valpo Softball: A busy stretch continues for the Valpo softball team this week, with five games over a six-day span. The Beacons open the week by concluding an eight-game homestand with single games Tuesday and Wednesday against UIC before hitting the road for their first road games in nearly a month, heading to Normal, Ill. for a three-game set this weekend at Illinois State.

Previously: Valpo took one of three in a three-game series against second-place Belmont last weekend. The Beacons scored four runs over the first two innings of the opener and freshman Sydney McDermott kept the Bruins' bats at bay in a 4-2 complete-game win. Belmont came back to take the back half of Saturday's doubleheader, 12-1, and then earned an 8-2 win in the rubber game on Sunday.

Looking Ahead: Valpo welcomes Eastern Illinois to the Valpo Softball Complex for a non-conference twinbill next Wednesday, April 17 before making the long bus ride to Springfield, Mo. for a three-game series at Missouri State.

Following Valpo Softball: All five games this week 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 and currently owns a 1-2 record. 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: UIC ­- Valpo renews acquaintances with the most common opponent in program history this week, as the two programs meet for the 90th and 91st times. UIC holds a 67-22 advantage in the all-time series, but it was the Beacons who took the season series last year in their first matchups as MVC foes - Valpo won at UIC 2-1 on April 4 and at Valpo 4-0 on April 19 before the Flames claimed the finale in Chicago on April 25, 7-6.

Illinois State - The Redbirds own a 16-2 advantage in the all-time series, including wins in each of the last 13 meetings. Both of Valpo's wins in the series came in its first season in the MVC, 2018. Last year, Illinois State took all three games at the Valpo Softball Complex by final scores of 14-3, 8-5 and 15-0.

Scouting the Opposition: UIC - The Flames come to Valpo this week with a 12-25 overall record and are 5-7 in MVC play following a series win over Illinois State last weekend. Larisa Villa leads UIC with a .287 batting average, while Grace Fleming has scored a team-high 15 runs and Carlee Jo Clark paces the Flames with 20 RBIs. In the circle, Christina Toniolo has thrown nearly half the team's innings and owns seven of UIC's 12 wins.

Illinois State - The Redbirds enter the weekend at 13-26 overall and 7-7 in MVC action after dropping two of three at UIC last weekend. Adisyn Hopkins ranks among the Valley's top hitters with a .385 batting average, while Delainey Bryant has crossed the plate a team-high 25 times and Jayden Standish paces ISU with 18 RBIs. Paige McLeod and Hannah Meshnick have almost evenly split most of the Redbirds' innings in the circle - McLeod is 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA and Meshnick is 5-11 with a 5.43 ERA.

Who's Back: Valpo returns 11 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 43.1% 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 11 returnees and nine newcomers gives Valpo a 20-player roster for the 2024 campaign. That's a four-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.

An Impressive Win: Valpo's win in the series opener against Belmont came over a Bruins squad which entered the weekend in second place in the MVC standings and in the top-100 nationally in RPI. While it remains to be seen where Belmont will land at the conclusion of the regular season, the last time Valpo beat a team which finished in the top-two of the conference standings came in the program's first season in the Valley, as Valpo took two of three from second-place Missouri State in 2018.

Busy Stretch: With Friday's game versus Belmont bumped back to Saturday, it made an already busy stretch of games even busier for the Beacons. Valpo is now slated to play eight games over nine days, with just two days in that stretch (Monday, Thursday) an off day.

Back on the Road: Valpo will conclude its eight-game homestand with the pair of games against UIC Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to the road to play at Illinois State. Thanks to the cancelation of the Drake series, when the Beacons step on the diamond in Normal on Friday, it will have been 26 days since their last road game - the longest stretch in program history between games away from home.

Going the Distance: One week after a great performance in the circle against Bradley, freshman pitcher Sydney McDermott put together another strong outing to pick up the complete-game win Saturday versus Belmont. It wasn't as clean as her Bradley performance, which saw her allow just two hits in nine shutout innings to open the game - becoming the first player in program history to pitch nine straight shutout innings within the same game - before getting touched up in the 10th. Against Belmont, McDermott faced at least one baserunner in all seven innings, but dealt well with the traffic in surrendering just a pair of runs. It was her third complete-game win of the year, as she also earned victories while going the distance against Georgetown and Bowling Green.

Johnson Continues to Hit: Senior Alexis Johnson has had a strong start to MVC play and that continued last weekend against Belmont. Johnson hit .400 for the weekend, picking up at least one hit in all three games of the series. Johnson enjoyed her best game in Valpo's win in the series opener, going 2-for-3 while driving in a run and scoring in the 3-run second inning which proved vital in the 4-2 victory. Through nine Valley games, Johnson is hitting a team-best .323 and counts three doubles and a homer among her 10 hits. She also fielded all 17 chances she had at second base last weekend flawlessly, tallying seven putouts and 10 assists, and has committed just four errors this season in 30 starts at second base.

A Long Day at the Ballpark: Seven innings weren't enough to decide either game in Valpo's doubleheader against Bradley, 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.

Big Hits: Johnson bookended the Bradley weekend with big hits, as leading off the bottom of the first of the 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. She capped the weekend against Bradley with a bang, lining a double to right-center field to score Lyna Vasquez to give Valpo a 3-2 win in 10 innings. The 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, and it was the program's first walk-off at home since April 9, 2019 against Indiana State, courtesy of Taylor Herschbach.

Hecker Hacking: Senior outfielder Regi Hecker has carried a strong end to her 2023 campaign into this 2024 season. Hecker is batting .345 this season and reaching base at a .439 clip, marks which rank 11th and ninth in the Valley, respectively. She led the way 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.

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.