Valparaiso University’s baseball team has had a great deal of success throughout the summer playing in various leagues around the country.
A quartet of Crusaders helped the Springfield Sliders of the Central Illinois Collegiate League win the regular season as well as the playoff championship. Senior Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.) and transfer (Gurnee, Ill./Warren Township H.S.) joined sophomores Brian Behnke and Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) and Bryce Shafer (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.) on the championship team. Shafer was selected as the league’s Pitcher of the Year as well as an all-star. He led the team with a 6-1 record with 74 strikeouts in 59 innings to go along with a 2.57 ERA. Quinnette was named the tournament finals Most Valuable Player as he hit a two-run homer in game one as the Sliders won 2-1.
Incoming recruit Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza H.S.) led the Tennessee Tornados of the Southern Collegiate League to a regular season and playoff championship. Muhlsteff was named to the all-star team as he hit an impressive .339 for the summer.
Returning junior Brett Bivens (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview H.S.) helped his team, the Laramie Colts, win the regular season and playoff championship in the Mountain Collegiate League. Bivens was named an all-star and was selected the Golden Glove Award winner for the Colts. He hit .331 in 160 at bats.
Sophomore Justin Frane (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) played for the Monroe Channelcats in the Tarheel Baseball League. Frane was selected to play in the all-star game as he hit .310 for the summer while also pitching 10 innings with 1.80 ERA.
Sophomores Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) and Steve Godawa (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) led the Augusta Nationals of the Great South League to a second place finish in the playoffs. McCormick hit .293 while Godawa finished with a 4.15 ERA.
Returning pitchers Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.), with the Green Bay Bullfrogs, and Austen Siwiec (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy), with the Alexandria Beetles, played in the Northwoods Summer League. Gulbransen finished with 22 strikeouts in 30 innings and a 3.56 ERA while Siwiec struck out 28 in 30.1 innings while compiling a 3-0 record with a 4.15 ERA. The league hit just .181 off of him.
Finally, fifth-year senior Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) was granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA. DeBruin was injured during his sophomore season. In 2008, he hit .338 with 23 runs batted in as a leadoff hitter for the Crusaders.