PURDUE (24-25-1) at VALPARAISO (21-10) - VU SOFTBALL FIELD - 4/18
AT NOTRE DAME (20-14) - IVY FIELD - 4/19
AT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (11-22) - SOUTHBROOK PARK - 4/21
AT NORTH DAKOTA STATE (27-19) - ELLIG SPORTS COMPLEX - 4/22
The Matchups: Valpo will take on four different teams in a five-game span beginning on Wednesday against Purdue. The Crusaders are 5-19-1 all-time against the Boilermakers, including a 2-2-1 mark in Schneider's four years. Against Notre Dame, Valpo is 11-26 in 37 matchups. The Crusaders lost their only meeting against South Dakota State and have never played the Bison of North Dakota State.
Last Meetings: An RBI single from Beth Adamski was all the offense Valpo would need as the Crusaders beat Purdue, 2-0, on April 13, 2006. Alicia Ashburn stole home in the sixth inning for the insurance run. Chris Halstead earned the win, while Andrea Zappia pitched three hitless innings for the save.
Valpo led Notre Dame 2-1 after two innings of play on April 27, 2006, but the Irish scored three runs in the third and eventually won, 6-2. Beth Adamski registered an RBI single and a run scored in the loss.
South Dakota State scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh off of Andrea Zappia to down the Crusaders 3-2 on March 7, 2006. Karen Korb recorded a 2-RBI single to account for both of Valpo's runs.
Last Time Out: Stephanie Kelly and Carrie Franson combined on Valparaiso's first no-hitter in over five years as the Crusaders won the opener over IPFW 8-0 in five innings Monday at the Valparaiso University Softball Field. In the nightcap, Taylor Callahan hit two home runs to propel the Crusaders to a 6-1 victory for the sweep. Callahan, Carroll, Korb and Warner all registered three hits on the day for the Crusaders, who totaled 19 hits over the doubleheader. Callahan and Korth paced Valpo with three runs scored apiece, while Callahan drove in a team-high five runs.
On The Air: The Purdue game will be broadcast by Valparaiso's student radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, which is scheduled to broadcast each of the Crusaders' 15 home games as well as selected road games. The broadcasts will also be available online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
No-Hitter: Kelly and Franson's combined no-hitter against IPFW Monday was the Crusaders' first since holding St. Thomas Aquinas hitless in the opening game of a doubleheader on March 12, 2002 in a 5-0 win. In Monday's game, Kelly got the start and tossed the first three innings, striking out five Mastodons to earn the win . Franson threw the final two innings, registering two strikeouts.
Keep On Winning: The 2007 incarnation of the Crusaders are poised to become the winningest team in program history. With 17 scheduled games remaining, Valpo already owns 21 wins on the season, tied for the fifth-most in a single season in school history. The school record for wins in a season is 27, done twice, in 1986 and 1987. One more win will give the Crusaders their 22nd victory of the season, matching last year's win total.
Strength in the Circle: Valparaiso's performance this year can be attributed somewhat to the improvement in the circle. The Crusaders' team ERA currently sits at 2.68, over a run better than any other team in the Mid-Con and 0.29 lower than last season's ERA.
Best Start Ever: Valparaiso started its season 9-3 at the Rebel Spring Games, marking the best 12-game start for a Crusader squad in program history. The previous best 12-game start was 8-4, first accomplished in 1983 and matched by the 1985 team.
Stringing Together the Victories: Included in that 9-3 start at the Rebel Spring Games was an eight-game winning streak to close out the competition. The eight straight victories matched the second-longest such streak in Crusader history, as the 1988 team also enjoyed eight consecutive wins. The school record winning streak was set in 1987, when Valpo reeled off nine straight victories. The eight wins came over a five-day span against eight different opponents.
Cutting it Close: Each of the last five victories in Valpo's eight game winning streak came by the exact same margin - one run. The five straight one-run victories set a new program record for most consecutive one-run wins.
Valpo Picked Fourth in Mid-Con: The Valparaiso University softball team has been tabbed to finish in fourth place in the Mid-Continent Conference in preseason polling of the league's head coaches. Valpo garnered 18 points in the polling, which granted seven points for a first-place vote. Western Illinois is the preseason favorite to take top honors in the Mid-Con, registering 32 points, including three first-place votes. Centenary and Southern Utah each received two first-place votes and tallied 30 and 29 points, respectively. IUPUI checked in at 17 points, good for fifth place, while Oakland (13) and UMKC (8) rounded out the voting.
Senior Leadership: The 2007 Crusader squad boasts five seniors who are attempting to lead Valpo to a Mid-Continent Conference championship for the first time in program history. Included among the five seniors are two of the most prolific hitters in Crusader history: infielder Taylor Callahan and outfielder Megan Carroll. Also counted among the Valpo senior leaders are infielder Beth Adamski, outfielder Jessica Schultz and catcher Allison Whitesell.
Callahan On Fire Leading Off: Senior Taylor Callahan was moved into the leadoff position in the Valpo lineup prior to last Tuesday's doubleheader against Northern Illinois, and has responded in a big way, going 14-for-24 (.583) with eight doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs, and seven runs scored over the last seven games. Callahan earned Mid-Con Player of the Week honors Monday for her performance last week, and followed with a multi-HR game in the nightcap against IPFW. With her second at-bat against the Mastodons, Callahan broke the school record for at-bats in a career (549), and currently ranks among Valpo's all-time top-five in five other offensive categories.
Robinson Pacing the Offense: Junior catcher Shannon Robinson has quietly continued her impressive offense for the Crusaders. Her batting average of .381 leads the Mid-Con, while her career mark at the plate of .311 is fourth-best in Crusader history. The junior also is among Valpo's leaders this year in runs scored (22), RBIs (16) and stolen bases (eight). Robinson also leads the team with 11 multi-hit games on the season, including a 3-for-3 effort with two runs scored in the rubber game of the series against IUPUI.
Zappia Zaps Opponents: Junior pitcher Andrea Zappia has continued her stellar pitching from her sophomore year into the 2007 campaign. Zappia currently leads the Crusaders and ranks second in the Mid-Con with her 2.60 earned run average, while she leads the league with a .221 opponents batting average and 6.94 strikeouts per seven innings. She earned Mid-Con Pitcher of the Week honors March 12 for her three-win, one-save performance at the Rebel Spring Games, and threw her first career shutout March 23 against UMKC, allowing just three hits while striking out nine.
Kelly Mowing Them Down: Sophomore Stephanie Kelly stood out in the circle for Valpo in its three-game series against IUPUI last weekend. Kelly threw 15 2/3 of the 21 innings against the Jaguars, striking out 17 batters while allowing just 16 hits and four runs. Kelly threw 4 2/3 innings of relief against IUPUI in the opener Friday, and followed with six innings out of the bullpen to earn the victory in the nightcap that day. In Valpo's win Saturday, the sophomore went five innings in the start to propel the Crusaders to the 6-1 victory.
Purdue: The Boilermakers enter the week with a 24-26-1 record on the season, including a 4-5 mark in Big Ten play. Three regulars are hitting over .300, led by Ashley Hall's .390 mark, while Brooke Baker is 19-13 with a 2.42 ERA in 222 2/3 innings of work this season.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are 20-14 this year and are 9-1 against Big East opponents. Brittney Bargar has been their main hurler this year, with a 13-7 record and a 2.02 ERA. The offense has been paced by All-American Stephanie Brown, who is hitting .463 on the season.
South Dakota St.: SDSU is 11-22 so far in 2007 in its final season as an independent. Brooke Potsma leads the offensive attack with a .322 average and 21 stolen bases. In the circle, Jenna Marston has tossed 115 1/3 innings with a 2.43 ERA.
North Dakota St.: The Bison are 27-19 on the season, but have played just three home games to date. Allison Bakke anchors the pitching staff, owning a 1.23 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 176 1/3 innings. Kelly Cantrell paces NDSU at the plate, hitting .385 with six home runs.