February 23, 20241234567RHE
Win: Ben Hess (2-0) 4.042215
Loss: McCluskey (0-2) 3.078811
Hannahs (VALPO) 311010
Schmack (VALPO) 311100
Maka (VALPO) 301100
Giusti (VALPO) 301000
Ryan (VALPO) 301000
Will Hodo (UA) 423000
Mac Guscette (UA) 323100

February 24, 20241234567RHE
Win: Aidan Moza (2-0) 4.033224
Loss: Cottrill (1-1) 1.067312
Schmack (VALPO) 322201
Gage Miller (UA) 423301
Ian Petrutz (UA) 423201

February 25, 20241234567RHE
Win: Greg Farone (1-0) 3.021105
Loss: Foley (1-1) 3.076611
Schmack (VALPO) 412000
Evan Sleight (UA) 313310
Nationally-Ranked Foe Awaits Baseball This Weekend
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Nationally-Ranked Foe Awaits Baseball This Weekend
Alex Thurston is a four-year starter at shortstop for the Beacons.

Valparaiso (2-2, 0-0 MVC)
at No. 17 Alabama (4-0*, 0-0 SEC)
Sewell-Thomas Stadium (5,867) | Tuscaloosa, Ala.
*entering Wednesday vs. Alabama State

Friday, Feb. 23, 4 p.m. – RHP Griffin McCluskey
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2 p.m. – RHP Josh Cottrill
Sunday, Feb. 25, 1 p.m. – LHP Lucas Foley

Next Up in Valpo Baseball: The Valparaiso University baseball team will be right back in The Heart of Dixie this weekend as the Beacons continue a season-opening stretch of seven straight games in the state of Alabama. This time, Valpo will visit the nationally-ranked Crimson Tide for a three-game weekend series in Tuscaloosa.

Last Time Out: Valpo earned a series split over the opening weekend of the season at Alabama State, taking the middle games of a four-game series. The Beacons swept Saturday’s doubleheader behind stellar starting pitching performances from Josh Cottrill and Lucas Foley, winning the games 8-2 and 8-1. Alabama State prevailed 16-5 in eight innings in Friday’s season opener despite three Beacon home runs, and an early long ball by Kyle Schmack was not enough on Sunday as the Hornets scored nine unanswered to buzz to the victory.

Following the Beacons: All three games in the series will air on SEC Network Plus. Links to live video, audio (courtesy of Alabama athletics) and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.

Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack (190-296) is in his 10th season in charge of the program. He ranks third in program history in seasons coached and games coached as he enters 2024 having skippered 482 Valpo games. He enters the season with 188 victories, the third most in program history. Schmack, a member of the 2003 Detroit Tigers, served as pitching coach/associate head coach at Valpo for seven seasons prior to his promotion.

Series Notes: Valpo will play its second all-time series against Alabama this weekend after previously visiting Tuscaloosa for three games in 2018. The Crimson Tide opened that season by winning all three in the series, prevailing 16-2, 6-5 and 12-6. The closest contest was the middle game when Valpo led 5-1 but Alabama rallied to win in walk-off fashion despite being outhit 13-8.

In The Other Dugout: Alabama

  • Ranked 17th nationally by D1Baseball and by the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
  • Won over 40 games in 2023, posting a 43-21 mark en route to an NCAA Regional crown and Super Regional appearance last season.
  • Picked fourth in the SEC West preseason poll.
  • Reliever Alton Davis II was a member of the Preseason All-SEC Second Team.
  • Swept Manhattan College during the opening weekend of the season before beating Middle Tennessee on Tuesday and hosting Alabama State on Wednesday.

Starters Start Strong

  • The starting pitching staff turned in a pair of gems over the opening weekend as Josh Cottrill and Lucas Foley both pitched Valpo to wins as part of a doubleheader sweep on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Alabama State.
  • Cottrill allowed just one run on four hits while walking two and striking out seven in the opener, a six-inning start that helped him pick up his first win of the season and the second of his career. He matched the longest outing of his career and picked up right where he left off last season, when he covered a career-long six innings and allowed just one unearned run on one hit over six innings in the May 24 MVC Tournament game vs. Belmont, Valpo’s final game of the 2023 campaign.
  • Foley went seven innings of one-run ball while scattering five hits in his collegiate debut. The southpaw struck out 11 and walked none, becoming the first Valpo hurler with double-figure strikeouts since Griffin McCluskey on May 12, 2023 at Belmont (11). McCluskey also had no walks in that outing.
  • Through one weekend of action, Foley leads the MVC in strikeouts and is one of 10 players in the country with 11 or more.
  • Foley was one of two freshmen in the country with an 11-strikeout game on the opening weekend, joining Deven Sheerin of Mount St. Mary’s.
  • The pitching prowess of Cottrill and Foley helped Valpo pick up its first doubleheader sweep since April 15 of last season at Bradley.

Double the Fun

  • Valpo clubbed six doubles in the opening game of the doubleheader on Feb. 17 at Alabama State, an 8-2 victory.
  • The half dozen doubles marked the team’s highest total since May 1, 2021, seven vs. Illinois State.
  • Six of Valpo’s 10 hits in the game went for two bases including two doubles by Connor Giusti.
  • Valpo finished the weekend with 11 doubles, the most in the MVC and the 12th most nationally during the opening weekend of action.
  • Giusti had three doubles for the weekend, tied for the most in the MVC and the 13th most nationally over the opening weekend.

Other Notes Wrapping Up Alabama State (Feb. 16-18)

  • After hitting 50 home runs last season to mark the program’s highest total since 2001, Valpo picked up right where it left off by launching three big flies in the Feb. 16 season opener at Alabama State.
  • Kaleb Hannahs (ninth career), Alex Thurston (fourth career) and Connor Giusti (11th collegiate, first at Valpo) all drilled dingers on Opening Night.
  • The three home runs marked Valpo’s highest single-game total since March 5, 2023, when the team slugged three at Little Rock.
  • The seven Beacon hits on Opening Night came from seven different players.
  • Alex Ryan had a game-high three hits in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
  • Jake Jakubowski polished off a win with a flawless ninth and retired all six men he faced in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
  • In the series finale, Kyle Schmack hit his first home run of the season and the 19th of his Valpo career. He needs two more home runs to crack the program’s all-time top 10.
  • Defense was a bugaboo in the series finale as Valpo committed three miscues and seven of the nine Alabama State runs were unearned.

Inside the Schedule

  • Valpo started the season with a four-game series against an Alabama State team that won 41 games and went 26-4 in the Southwest Athletic Conference last season.
  • The Beacons will play three more in the Heart of Dixie from Feb. 23-25 at Alabama. The Crimson Tide of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) also won over 40 games in 2023, posting a 43-21 mark en route to an NCAA Regional crown and Super Regional appearance.
  • A challenging early-season docket continues on March 1, when Valpo will play at Elon, a team that went 33-22 last season including a 19-9 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
  • Valpo will play a fourth straight opponent and ninth straight game against a team with 30 or more wins last season on March 2 at preseason No. 1 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons were 54-12, going 22-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) on their way to NCAA Regional and Super Regional crowns that resulted in a College World Series appearance.
  • After a neutral site game on March 3 vs. Binghampton of the American East Conference – another team that finished with a winning record last year – Valpo will visit Jacksonville, a 34-win team last year and a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
  • Valpo will have a three-game series at Campbell (March 15-17) against a team that went 46-15 and 22-5 in the Big South in 2023. The conference champion Fighting Camels reached NCAA Regionals.
  • The Beacons will make their way to Nashville, Tenn. for a game against preseason No. 6 Vanderbilt on March 26. The Commodores went 42-20 last season, were the runners-up of the College World Series in 2021 and won the national title as recently as 2019.
  • Other power-five opponents on the docket include April 3 at Purdue and April 16 at Notre Dame.

Program Progress: Looking Back at 2023

  • Valpo enjoyed 20 wins in 2023, the team’s highest overall win total since the 2017 campaign (24).
  • The team surpassed 2018 (19) for the program’s highest overall win total since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • The team’s highest overall win total in recent years came despite the fact that six nonconference games were called off due to poor weather.
  • Valpo finished with a .426 overall winning percentage, the team’s highest since joining the MVC and highest in any season since 2017.
  • With 10 conference victories, Valpo notched its highest MVC win total since joining the league. The team’s previous Valley-only peak was nine in 2021.
  • Valpo finished the season with a league-only winning percentage of .370. Prior to last season, the team’s best MVC winning percentage was .321 in 2021.
  • Last season also represented the first time that Valpo has finished ahead of more than one team in the conference standings since joining the league. The team finished seventh of eight in 2018 and 2019 and eighth of eight in 2021 and 2022. There was no MVC play in 2020 due to COVID-19.
  • Valpo was recognized by D1Baseball as one of three “Upsets of the Night” on March 10 after beating No. 22 Southern Miss 6-1 in the series opener. The victory snapped the team’s skid of 15 straight losses against nationally-ranked opponents and marked the team’s first victory over a top-25 foe since beating No. 25 Illinois on April 17, 2018. At No. 22, Southern Miss was the highest ranked team that Valpo has defeated since a win over No. 9 Arizona State on April 21, 2013.


Talkin’ Schmack

  • Head coach Brian Schmack ranks third in program history in career victories, trailing only Paul Twenge (1988-2006, 378) and the legendary Emory G. Bauer (1954-1981, 359).
  • Schmack is 10 wins away from becoming the third Valpo head coach to reach the 200-win milestone.
  • Schmack will reach another milestone this season when the 2024 campaign reaches its 18th That will mark Schmack’s 500th game in charge of the program, becoming the third skipper in program history to reach that number.

Beacon Blasts 

  • Valpo launched 50 home runs last season, surpassing the 2018 campaign (41) and the 2002 season (49) to climb all the way to fourth in single-season program history.
  • Valpo held its highest single-season home run total during the BBCOR bat era that began in 2011.
  • The 50 bombs marked the program’s most since 2001, a year were the team launched a program-record 81 long balls.

Valpo Single-Season Top 5 – Team Home Runs

Rank    Year    HR

1          2001    81

2          1985    64

3          1999    55

4          2023    50

5          2002    49

Other Record Book Updates from 2023

  • Valpo drew 231 walks as a team last season, tied for the fifth most in program history. That marked the team’s highest number of bases on balls since 2018 (248).
  • The Beacons also reached base at a high clip, as the team’s .386 on-base percentage was its highest in over 20 years. That tied for fifth in the program record book, joining the 2001 and 1998 seasons. This was the first time since 2001 that Valpo owned an OBP of .386 or better.
  • Valpo possessed a .973 fielding percentage last season, matching a program record set in 2018.

Maka-ing Good Things Happen

  • Ryan Maka was named to the 2024 Preseason All-MVC Team after earning first-team all-conference accolades at the conclusion of the 2023 campaign. The left-handed hitting outfielder raised his average nearly 100 points from the previous season by batting .345 a year ago including a .382 mark in Valley play.
  • Maka hit two grand slams – April 2 vs. Murray State and May 5 vs. Southern Illinois – becoming the first Valpo player since at least 2006 with two career grand slams.
  • He ranked second in the MVC in batting average and eighth in on-base percentage (.454).
  • In league-only play, Maka ranked in the top 10 in The Valley in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, RBIs, total bases and walks.

Who’s Back, Who’s New?

  • The 2024 roster features 16 seniors and nine juniors including an upperclassmen core of position players who have been together for several seasons.
  • The bulk of Valpo’s position players are back from last season including returning starters at seven of the eight positions. Four of those are set to become four-year starters – Kyle Schmack (LF), Kaleb Hannahs (3B), Brady Renro (1B) and Alex Thurston (SS). Other returning starters include Alex Ryan (CF), Ryan Maka (RF) and Kade Reinertson (C).
  • In total, the roster features 22 returning players.
  • Valpo has welcomed nine transfers to the program – outfielder Carson Husmann (Bradley), infielder Connor Giusti (Wisconsin Oshkosh), RHP Ryan Kruse (Northern Kentucky), RHP Spencer Boynton (Eastern Nazarene College), RHP Joe Seiber (College of DuPage), RHP Bryce Konitzer (Oakland), catcher Liam Patton (Wabash), infielder Chase Maifield (Augustana) and RHP Jake Jakubowski (Heartland).
  • In addition, five true freshmen have joined the fold – LHP Jack Thompson, infielder Aidan Thaxton, infielder/outfielder Kevin Denty, RHP Bennett Musser and LHP Lucas Foley.

Pitching Profiles – Projected Starters

  • #38 RHP Griffin McCluskey, Sr. (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) – As a freshman, got the starting nod on May 11, 2021 vs. No. 8 Notre Dame and pitched a gem at Emory G. Bauer Field, holding the guests to no runs on one hit – a seeing-eye single through the left side – while walking just one and striking out four in six innings. He left in position for the win after becoming just the third pitcher to hold Notre Dame scoreless while pitching six or more innings all season, joining Duke’s Jack Carey and Boston College’s Emmett Sheehan... Posted the highest fielding percentage by a starting shortstop in program history in high school... Finished in the top 10 in his high school’s history in career 3-point field goals in basketball... Enjoys playing the guitar... Earned his first collegiate victory in his hometown of Normal, Ill. on April 17, 2022, pitching Valpo to a 2-1 win over Illinois State on Easter Sunday. He allowed just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out five over six strong innings... Was Valpo’s 2023 opening day starter vs. Kansas in Corpus Christi, Texas... In 2023, tied for fourth in the league in games started, ranked 13th in innings pitched and was eighth in strikeouts... Got the Opening Night nod on Feb. 16, 2024 vs. Alabama State and took the defeat.
  • #16 RHP Josh Cottrill, R-Jr. (Pewaukee, Wis. / Pewaukee) – Redshirted in 2021 during his first season on campus, then logged 8 2/3 innings in seven games out of the bullpen in 2022... Two-time all-conference performer in high school... Set his school’s record for highest batting average by a freshman at .531 in 2017... Hobbies include Guitar Hero... Can juggle... Loves to travel... Posted a 5.63 ERA while making 14 appearances including one start in 2023... Made his first collegiate start and logged four innings on May 19, 2023 vs. Illinois State... Matched the longest outing of his career and earned his second collegiate win in his Feb. 17 season debut in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Alabama State. He allowed just one run on four hits in six innings while walking two and striking out seven.
  • #42 LHP Lucas Foley, Fr. (Deer Park, Ill. / Lake Zurich) – 2023 IHSBCA 4A First Team All-State and PBR Third Team All-State... Conference Pitcher of the Year as a senior in high school in 2023... Enjoys water and snow skiing... Has broken his collarbone four times... Favorite musical group is Cold Play... Went seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits while walking none and striking out 11 on Feb. 17 at Alabama State, getting the start in the second game of a doubleheader and making his collegiate debut. He was one of two freshmen in the country with 11 or more strikeouts in a game over the opening weekend of the season.


Pitching Profiles – Bullpen Bits

  • #8 RHP Josh Spencer, Sr. (Woodinville, Wash. / Woodinville [Tacoma]) – Logged 4 2/3 innings in his first season at Valpo in 2023... Is a massive shopper who loves clothes, shoes and style... Also enjoys camping, hiking, wakeboarding and video games.
  • #10 LHP Christian Hack, Jr. (Oak Forest, Ill. / Tinley Park) – Helped his high school team to conference and regional championships in 2019... Also competed in high school basketball... Says he can “do a decent Chewbacca noise”... Favorite TV Show is The Office... Appeared in six games out of the Valpo bullpen and logged 6 2/3 innings as a freshman in 2022... Saw action in 14 games and logged 19 1/3 innings last season.
  • #21 Kaleb Krier, Sr. (Altoona, Iowa / Southeast Polk (DMACC) – Made four appearances, all starts, in his first season at Valpo in 2023... Spent two seasons of JUCO ball at DMACC... Favorite MLB team is the New York Mets.
  • #24 Adam Guazzo, R-Fr. (Huntley, Ill. / Huntley) – Was sidelined and did not see action during his first season on campus in 2023... Two-time all-conference performer in basketball in addition to earning all-conference on the diamond as a senior in high school... Set his high school’s record for rebounds in a single season on the hardwood with 320 in 2021-22... Favorite TV shows are Breaking Bad and Ozarks... Made his collegiate debut with a start on Feb. 18 at Alabama State and took the loss, allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk while striking out three in four innings.
  • #32 Bryce Konitzer, Sr. (Mukwonago, Wis. / Mukwonago [Oakland]) – Started his collegiate career at Illinois State as a member of the 2019 MVC championship team for the Redbirds... Then spent one season at Madison College before three years at Oakland... Worked his way back from March 2022 Tommy John surgery to be ready for the start of the 2023 campaign, during which he appeared in 15 games and made eight starts. 
  • #34 RHP Grant Jablonski, Sr. (Mishawaka, Ind. / Mishawaka) – Appeared in four games in 2021 and two in 2020 before appearing in nine games in 2022 and 17 in 2023... 2019 Indiana All-Star while earning all-state honors... Favorite TV show is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia... Did not allow an earned run in his season debut while logging 2 1/3 innings of relief on Feb. 18 at Alabama State.
  • #36 Trent Turzenski, Sr. (Burlington, Wis. / Burlington) – Had a team-best ERA (2.48) in four games out of the bullpen during the shortened 2020 season... Made 13 appearances including 10 starts in 2021... Made seven starts as the team’s Friday starter before going down with a season-ending injury in 2022... Missed most of the 2023 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He pitched a scoreless inning and allowed one hit in his lone outing of the year, May 7 vs. Southern Illinois... Played in the Little League World Series Regional Tournament on ESPN twice when he was 11 and 12... Favorite MLB Player is Josh Hader... Nailed down the save with three innings of one-run ball while allowing three hits, striking out four and walking none in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Feb. 17 at Alabama State.
  • #39 Jake Jakubowski, Jr. (Lake in the Hills, Ill. / Huntley [Heartland]) – Won a national championship while playing junior college ball at Heartland CC... Played summer ball for the Kenosha Kingfish of the Northwoods League (2022) and the Burlington Bees of the Prospect League (2023)... Favorite movie is Super Bad... Retired all six batters he faced while pitching the final two innings of Game 2 of a Feb. 17 doubleheader at Alabama State.

Position Player Profiles – Projected Lineup (based on recent games)

  • #15 Kaleb Hannahs, 3B, Sr. (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) – 2021 MVC Freshman of the Year, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American, All-MVC Second Team and Valparaiso University co-Male Newcomer of the Year (ARC Awards)... In a very unusual and possibly even unprecedented occurrence, Valpo has two sons of Missouri Valley Conference head baseball coaches in the starting lineup… Hannahs’ father Mitch is the head coach at Indiana State… Fan of Luke Combs, the St. Louis Cardinals and Fernando Tatis Jr… Three-sport athlete in high school, where he earned four letters apiece in football, basketball and baseball… Earned MVC Player of the Week on May 3, 2021 after posting a slash line .556/.636/.667 over five games during the week... Led the team in batting average (.296), hits (55) and on-base percentage (.389) in 2021, becoming the first rookie to pace the team in batting average since Spencer Mahoney in 2012... Finished the 2021 season on a 20-game on-base streak... Started his freshman season with a .200 average over the first 11 games before hitting .336 over his last 36 regular-season contests while posting a .434 on-base percentage in that time... Named to the 2022 MVC All-Defensive Team... Led the team in runs scored with 36 while starting all 48 games in 2022, posting a .275 batting average... Was hit by a pitch on April 9, 2023 at Evansville, suffering an injury that caused him to be sidelined until May 18 vs. Illinois State (with the exception of one pinch running appearance during that stretch)... Drilled a home run in his first plate appearance back in the lineup on May 18 vs. Illinois State... Hit .286 while playing in 30 games and making 29 starts in 2023... Fourth-year starter in 2024... Hit his ninth career home run on Feb. 16, 2024, Opening Night at Alabama State.
  • #30 Brady Renfro, 1B, Sr. (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) – Is an only child… Hobbies include hunting and fishing… Favorite MLB player is Clayton Kershaw and team is the Milwaukee Brewers… Played with STiKS Baseball Academy and the Chicago Scouts Association… Posted a 21-game on-base streak that was snapped on May 2, 2021 vs. Illinois State, at the time Valpo’s longest on-base streak since 2017... Named 2021 All-MVC Honorable Mention... Was one of two players to start all 48 games for Valpo in 2022... Tied for the team lead in both home runs (seven) and RBIs (27) while also posting a .275 batting average during the 2022 campaign... Hit .319 in MVC play in 2022, ranking second on the team in league-only batting average while driving in a team-high 11 runs in Valley action... During the 2023 campaign, had an on-base streak that reached 30 games before it was finally snapped on April 22 vs. UIC. That was Valpo’s longest such streak since 2016... Delivered a grand slam to help Valpo to an upset win over No. 22 Southern Miss on March 10... Missed time with a hip injury from April 23 to May 23... Hit .287 in 2023 while appearing in 34 games, all starts... Is a fourth-year starter in 2024.
  • #27 Kyle Schmack, LF, Sr. (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) – After graduating from nearby South Central High School in 2019, Kyle joined his father Brian’s program at Valpo… Was the MVP of the Indiana North/South All-Star Game in June 2019 following his senior year of high school… Also played football during his prep days… Appeared in 20 games and made nine starts during the shortened 2020 season… Appeared in all 51 games and made 50 starts in 2021, posting a .264 average that ranked fourth on the team while tying for second on the club with 24 RBIs and ranking second on the squad with nine doubles... Started all 47 games and batting .322 with nine home runs, 38 RBIs and a team-high 99 total bases in 2023... Fourth-year starter in 2024... Notched his first home run of the season and the 19th of his career on Feb. 18 at Alabama State.
  • #22 Ryan Maka, RF, Jr. (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) – Also competed in golf in high school... Other hobbies include investing and going to the gym... Favorite TV Show is Stranger Things... Became the first Valpo player since 2018 and second since 2008 to notch a three-homer game on May 13, 2022 vs. Bradley. Had four home runs in that series and five extra-base hits en route to earning Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Week recognition... Ranked third on the team in MVC-only batting average at .286 and tied for the team lead with four home runs in Valley play in 2022... 2023 All-MVC First Team and 2024 Preseason All-MVC honors... Posted a .345 batting average in 2023, jumping his average nearly 100 points from the previous season... Hit two grand slams in 2023, becoming the first Valpo player since at least 2006 with two career grand slams.
  • #9 Connor Giusti, 2B, Sr. (Hoffman Estates, Ill. / Fremd [Wisconsin Oshkosh]) – Played in 117 games over four seasons at Wisconsin Oshkosh before transferring to Valpo for the 2023 campaign... Named to the all-defensive team and all-conference honorable mention at Oshkosh... Big Chicago Bears fan and loves football... Hit his 11th collegiate home run and first at Valpo on Opening Night on Feb. 16 at Alabama State.
  • #7 Carson Husmann, OF/DH, Sr. (Hannah, Ind. / South Central [Bradley]) – Played in 113 games and made 101 starts over four years at Bradley while hitting 20 home runs and driving in 68 runs... His best year was 2022, when he hit .277 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs... High school teammates with Kyle Schmack at South Central in Northwest Indiana... Was also a four-year letter winner in basketball during his prep days.
  • #19 Kade Reinertson, C, R-Jr. (Huxley, Iowa / Ballard Community) – Played in 18 games before suffering a season-ending injury in 2023 after playing in 22 games and making 17 starts in 2022... Did not see game action as a rookie 2021... Named second team all-state in high school in 2019... Also played football and basketball in high school... Kicks with his left foot but does everything else right handed... Enjoys golfing and disc golfing.
  • #17 Alex Ryan, CF, Sr. (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) – Played in 10 games and made one start as a freshman in 2021... Three-time all-conference pick in high school… Milwaukee Brewers fans… Has a twin sister, Olivia… Hobbies include hiking and playing card games... Played in 46 games (44 starts) in 2022... Was a member of the 2023 MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team after earning MVC Scholar-Athlete Honorable Mention the year prior... Finished 2023 with a .260 batting average while playing in 40 games and making 37 starts.
  • #6 Alex Thurston, SS, Sr. (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) – Finished as the Valedictorian of his high school senior class… Won the 2019 Nanoline Automation National Championship with three classmates after creating an automated paint brush cleaner… Three-year all-conference honoree on the diamond while also playing four years of tennis and one year of basketball in high school… Appeared in 40 games and made 39 starts in 2021... Posted five hits on April 29, 2022 at Southern Illinois, becoming the first Valpo player with a five-hit game since Scott Kapers on May 8, 2018 at Western Michigan... After hitting .158 in 2021, made a significant jump with a team-high .301 batting average in 2022 while playing in 47 games, all starts... Played in 46 games – all starts – while turning in a .238 batting average in 2023... Is a fourth-year starter in 2024... Hit his fourth career home run on Opening Night, Feb. 16 at Alabama State.

Off the Bench

  • #5 Kevin Denty, INF/OF, Fr. (Tinley Park, Ill. / Marian Catholic) – All-conference honoree in high school... All-Star in the Northern League during the 2023 summer with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen... Hobbies include fishing, listening to podcasts, reading and traveling.
  • #35 Chase Maifield, INF, Sr. (Fox Lake, Ill. / Grant [Augustana]) – 2023 Division-III first team all-region and first team all-conference pick... Enjoys fishing, hiking and collecting vinyl records... Once placed third in a snowboard slopestyle competition.

Inside the Assistants: Top assistant Kory Winter returns to head coach Brian Schmack’s staff this season, while assistant coach Jeff Mayes is back for Year 2 and assistant coach Adam Brian has joined the fold.

  • After spending three seasons as a volunteer assistant, Kory Winter was hired as Schmack’s top assistant and hitting coach beginning with the 2019 campaign. Winter played collegiately at Wittenberg and has completed coaching stints at Muskingum University and Shippensburg University. He is also Valpo’s outfield instructor.
  • Jeff Mayes is in his second season on the Valpo coaching staff, serving as the team’s infield coach while also assisting with the team’s hitters and manning the third base coaching box. He spent the previous three seasons on staff at his alma mater Aurora University, a Division-III institution in Illinois, where the program amassed an 83-21 record during his tenure. Prior to that, he enjoyed a standout playing career for the Spartans.
  • Adam Brian is in his first season on Valpo’s staff after graduating from Bradley. He works with the team’s catchers and holds down the first-base coaching box. Brian’s father Braden Brian played college baseball at Eastern Kentucky and was selected in the 30th round of the 1986 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Montreal Expos.