April 24, 20241234567RHE
Northern Illinois0010301591
Win: Norred (1-3) 4.042115
Loss: McDermott (4-18) 3.051112
Turner (NIU) 412000
Stewart (NIU) 312010
Jones Estrada (NIU) 402000
Skapyak (VALPO) 301000
Crompton (VALPO) 201010
Bush (VALPO) 201010
Wilson (VALPO) 101100

April 24, 2024123456RHE
Northern Illinois311012880
Win: Dato (2-6) 6.060025
Loss: McDermott (4-19) 2.255131
Carnahan (NIU) 212010
Jones Estrada (NIU) 212110
Bush (VALPO) 302000

April 27, 20241234567RHE
Murray State00212005102
Win: Veber (14-10) 4.040003
Loss: McDermott (4-20) 4.2105515
Fischer (MUR) 402100
Lackey (MUR) 312100
Hobby (MUR) 312000
Bush (VALPO) 302000

April 27, 20241234567RHE
Murray State10303108121
Win: Veber (15-10) 4.032202
Loss: Wilming (2-7) 4.166631
Fischer (MUR) 433101
Schyck (MUR) 403000
Skapyak (VALPO) 301000
Johnson (VALPO) 211000
Bush (VALPO) 311201
Softball Home For Five Games This Week
Monday, April 22, 2024
Softball Home For Five Games This Week

Valparaiso (8-32, 2-15 MVC)
April 23 - Northern Illinois (13-29, 6-14 MAC) - 1 p.m. DH
April 26 - Murray State (20-26, 8-13 MVC) - 3 p.m.
April 27 - Murray State - 2 p.m.
April 28 - Murray State - noon

Next Up in Valpo Softball: The penultimate week of regular season action brings five home games for the Valpo softball team. The Beacons step away from Valley action for the final time as they take on Northern Illinois in a Tuesday doubleheader before welcoming Murray State to campus for the first time for an MVC series this weekend.

Previously: Valpo dropped five games last week, falling in a midweek twinbill to OVC-leading Eastern Illinois before going 0-3 in an MVC series at Missouri State. In Sunday's series finale, the Beacons were tied 4-4 with the Bears into the seventh inning before MSU walked it off in the bottom of the seventh.

Looking Ahead: The regular season wraps up next week with four MVC games, as Valpo concludes its series versus UIC with a single game in Chicago on Tuesday before closing things out with a three-game home set against UNI over the weekend.

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. 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: Northern Illinois - NIU holds a 31-15 advantage in the all-time series. Former conference mates in the early '90s in the North Star Conference and for a year in the Mid-Continent Conference, Valpo and NIU have met pretty regularly in nonconference action over the last two decades. Last season, the two teams played a twinbill in DeKalb - Valpo won game one 3-0 on a one-hitter by Easton Seib; NIU claimed game two by a 7-1 final.

Murray State - Valpo and Murray State had not met prior to the Racers joining the MVC last season. Last season, the Racers took all three games of the Valley series in Murray, Ky. by finals of 6-1, 8-0 and 6-0.

Scouting the Opposition: Northern Illinois - The Huskies enter Tuesday's twinbill with a 13-29 overall record and a 6-14 mark in MAC play. Ellis Erickson leads NIU at the plate with a .393 batting average, seven home runs and 26 runs scored, while Danielle Stewart boasts a team-best 24 RBIs. Stewart - younger sister of former Valpo standout Sam - also leads the Huskies in the circle, owning an 8-8 record and a 2.49 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 104 innings of work.

Murray State - The Racers enter the week with a 20-26 overall record and in 10th place in the MVC standings, with an 8-13 mark in Valley play. Adison Hicks has scored a team-best 22 runs and stolen 18 bases, while Kayleigh White owns a team-high 19 RBIs. Jenna Veber has been Murray State's workhorse in the circle and is 14-10 with a 1.33 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.

Wrong End of the Walk-offs: For the third time in MVC play this year, the Beacons found themselves on the wrong side of a walk-off victory, as Missouri State got an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh Sunday for a 5-4 win. Notably, all three walk-off losses have come on Sundays, in the final game of each of Valpo's three Valley road series.

A Whole New Lineup: Valpo used last Wednesday's nonconference doubleheader as an opportunity to get its entire roster some work in the midst of a heavy stretch of games. Only Emily Crompton and Kayden Krug started both games, and neither of them played the same defensive position in the nightcap as in the opener. The Beacons started a whopping seven freshmen in the nightcap, including the entire infield and the battery. Lana Tellez made her first collegiate start, earning the nod as the starting DP, while four Valpo players made their first collegiate start at their defensive position — Kaiah Fenters in center field, Krug at third base, Natalie Bush at shortstop and Carson Kuhlmann at second base.

Hecker Heats Up: With her collegiate career nearing an end, senior outfielder Regi Hecker has been as locked in at the plate as she's ever been recently. Last week, Hecker went 6-for-11 with two runs scored, four RBIs, two home runs and two walks. Her two round-trippers came in the Saturday and Sunday games against Missouri State, the latter a three-run shot in the fifth inning which erased what remained of the 4-0 deficit entering the inning. Going back to the start of the Illinois State series April 12, Hecker is 11-for-22 at the plate with seven RBIs. That stretch has raised her season batting average - which has stood above .300 since the second game of the season - from .330 to .363.

Bombs in Back-to-Back Games: Hecker's homers against Missouri State were the fourth and fifth long balls of her career. She became the first Valpo player to go yard in consecutive games since April 2022, when Lauren Kehlenbrink hit home runs in all three games of a Valley series against Bradley.

See Ya: Beyond Hecker, a pair of Beacons hit their first home runs of the season last week. Junior Lauren Sena connected on a homer in the nightcap against Eastern Illinois on Wednesday for her first of the year and second of her career. On Sunday at Missouri State, freshman Natalie Bush opened the scoring for the Beacons with her first collegiate long ball.

Crompton Knocks It Around: Senior Emily Crompton has been strong at the plate since the start of MVC play. Crompton entered Valley action hitting just .158 on the season, but has swung the bat at a .306 clip against Valley opponents. She recently had a six-game hitting streak, snapped in the middle game of the Missouri State series, which was highlighted by a 3-for-4 effort in the Saturday game at Illinois State.

Seven Shutout Frames: Freshman Sydney McDermott got the start in the circle in the series opener against UIC April 9 and twirled a gem through seven innings, keeping the Flames off the board in regulation before they touched her for a run apiece in the eighth and ninth innings. It was the second time in conference play that McDermott has pitched at least seven shutout innings, as against Bradley, she opened the game allowing just two hits in nine shutout innings before surrendering three runs in the 10th. In that contest, McDermott became the first player in program history to pitch nine straight shutout innings within the same game.

Among the MVC's Best: Entering this week's action, senior Alexis Johnson ranks third in the Valley with 14 stolen bases, while Hecker ranks third in batting average (.363), ninth in hits (41) and ninth in on-base percentage (.442). In Valley-only play, Johnson has been errorless in the field on 74 chances - that is the eighth-highest number of chances for a player with a 1.000 fielding percentage in MVC play, with the top seven consisting entirely of catchers and first basemen.

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.