It’s rather ironic that, playing on Leap Day for the first time in program history, it was the walk which was the big weapon for the Valpo softball team on Saturday. The Brown and Gold drew a school-record 12 walks in their 11-8 victory over Bethune-Cookman, with sophomore Peyton Moeder (Shawnee, Kan./Mill Valley) matching the program’s individual single-game record with four free passes. The win over the Wildcats ensured a split on the day for Valpo as it opened action at the Stetson Invitational, as Valpo dropped its first game of the day to Colgate, 4-1.
How It Happened – Colgate
- Valpo starting pitcher Kelsie Packard (Beloit, Wis./Turner [Rock Valley]) pitched out of trouble twice in the opening innings. Packard stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the first with a strikeout, and then left two more Colgate runners on by inducing a pop-up in the third.
- Valpo’s lone offense through the first three innings was a one-out single in the second from junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll), who was promptly erased on a double play as Valpo sent the minimum to the plate.
- Valpo broke through in the bottom of the fourth to score the game’s first run, as a walk and a pair of Colgate errors combined to plate Taylor Herschbach (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) without the benefit of a hit to give Valpo a 1-0 lead.
- Packard struck out the first two batters she faced in the fifth, but the next four Colgate hitters all reached, capped by a Morgan Farrah home run to give the Raiders the 4-1 lead.
- Valpo was able to advance just one runner into scoring position in its final three trips to the plate.
How It Happened – Bethune-Cookman
- While Valpo didn’t crack the scoreboard in the first, the theme of drawing walks was established early on, as both Moeder and sophomore Taylor Tonoian (Saugus, Calif./Saugus) drew free passes in the top of the opening inning.
- The Wildcats took the early lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the first, but Valpo answered in the second as Herschbach led the inning off with a triple and scored on a successful squeeze by sophomore Jaina Westphal (Waterford, Wis./Burlington).
- Valpo then exploded for eight runs in the top of the third. The first three batters of the inning all walked, and in all the Brown and Gold drew five walks and connected on two base hits in the frame.
- Moeder drew two walks and scored two runs in the third inning alone, while freshman Ryan Milkowski (Olathe, Kan./Olathe West) reached twice as well, walking in her first plate appearance and then capping the big inning with a bases-loaded double to score three.
- Sophomore Kate Beckemeyer (Forsyth, Ill./Maroa-Forsyth [Parkland]) had a two-run double in the inning, and Herschbach, Westphal and freshman Lauren Kehlenbrink (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) all drove in runs as well.
- Bethune-Cookman quickly escaped from potential run-rule territory, scoring twice in the bottom of the third. The Wildcats then added a single run in the fifth to close to within 9-4.
- Valpo added two more runs to its ledger in the top of the sixth. Milkowski walked to lead off the inning and eventually scored on an Anderson sacrifice fly, and later in the frame, Beckemeyer drew a bases-loaded walk to allow Tonoian to trot home and make it 11-4.
- Bethune-Cookman attempted a last-ditch rally in the seventh, scoring four runs with two outs to close to within three runs. Senior Jenna Edwards (Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark [Chattanooga State C.C.]) entered in relief and needed just two pitches to induce a groundball and close out the win.
Inside the Games
- The 11-run output against Bethune-Cookman was a season high for the Valpo offense and its largest run total since plating 13 last season against Wagner in early March.
- The eight-run third inning was the program’s most in a single inning since an eight-run frame in the fifth inning of its 13-2 win over Green Bay in April 2017.
- The 12 walks drawn against the Wildcats set a new single-game program record. The previous record of 11 free passes was set against Youngstown State back in April 2012.
- Moeder tallied four of those walks out of the leadoff spot, becoming just the second player in program history to draw four walks in a single game. Moeder matched the effort of Kaitlyn Ranieri against Detroit on April 21, 2013. The sophomore also scored a pair of runs in the victory and stole two bases, her third multi-steal game of the year.
- Not far behind Moeder was Milkowski, either in the batting order – she hit second against BCU – or in the walks column. The freshman drew three walks, tied for third-most in a single game in program history. She also had the three-run double in the third inning as she reached base four times in all in the win.
- Tonoian reached base three times out of the three spot in the order, drawing two walks – her first two bases on balls this year – and connecting on a double while scoring two runs as well.
- Beckemeyer reached base twice and delivered three RBIs after entering the game with just two RBIs to her name this year, while Westphal also had two RBIs and Herschbach contributed two hits and two runs scored.
- Freshman Easton Seib (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South) improved to 2-1 on the year with 5.1 innings of work in the starting assignment in the circle. Seib gave up just two earned runs and struck out four BCU hitters while walking none.
- Edwards’ one-out appearance was good for her third career save.
- Valpo was limited to just two hits in the opener against Colgate, with Anderson and Milkowski accounting for the base knocks.
- Packard took the complete-game loss in the circle versus the Raiders, falling to 3-2 as she surrendered five hits and struck out eight.
- Playing two games in a day for the fifth time this season, Valpo has finished all five of those days with splits.
Valpo (6-6) closes out the Stetson Invitational on Sunday with a matchup against the host Hatters at 11 a.m. CT. Live video and stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.