May 10, 201712345RHE
Win: GROSSMANN (20-10) 5.010005
Loss: KOWNACKI (13-10) 4.021121

May 11, 20171234567RHE
Youngstown State008010X990
Win: LUSK (16-12) 7.032234
Loss: GROSSMANN (20-11) 2.258032
LUSK (YSU) 413100

May 12, 201712345RHE
Detroit Mercy30104852
Win: Liz Murphy (14-18) 5.020033
Loss: GROSSMANN (20-12) 3.034430
Courtney Gilbert (DETROIT) 232110
Softball Heads to Horizon League Championship
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Softball Heads to Horizon League Championship

Valparaiso (27-21, 14-10 Horizon)
2017 Horizon League Championship
Chicago, Ill. - Flames Field (500)
Weds., May 10 - vs. Oakland (20-24, 13-11 Horizon) - 2:30 p.m.
May 11-13 - TBD

Next Up in Crusader Softball: The Valparaiso University softball team begins defense of its 2016 Horizon League Championship this week in Chicago, as the third-seeded Crusaders look for their second straight league title and fourth in the last six years. Valpo begins the double-elimination tournament on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. against sixth-seeded Oakland.

Previously: The Crusaders jumped up to the third spot in the league standings as they swept Wright State last weekend to close out the regular season at the Valpo Softball Complex. Valpo claimed the first game in eight innings, 4-3, before run-ruling the Raiders in game two. The series finale saw the Crusaders score twice in the bottom of the sixth for a 2-1 victory. Sam Stewart reached base all 11 times she stepped to the plate to lead the Crusader offense.

Following the Crusaders: The entirety of the 2017 Horizon League Championship will be carried live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Links for the live video, as well as live stats, will be available via

Head Coach Kate Stake: Kate Stake was hired as head coach of the Valparaiso softball program on July 23, 2014 and is in her third season as head coach, owning 61 victories. Stake led the Crusaders to the 2016 Horizon League Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament - the third in program history. Stake arrived at Valpo with eight seasons of assistant coaching experience at the Division I level, most recently serving as an assistant at mid-major power Hofstra.

Series Notes: Oakland - 0-3 this season; 4-8 since OU joined the Horizon League; 17-21 overall
Youngstown State - 2-1 this season; 26-8 in Horizon League; 34-12 overall
UIC - 0-3 this season; 14-19 in Horizon League; 19-66 overall
Wright State - 3-0 this season; 21-14 in Horizon League; 29-16 overall
Detroit Mercy - 2-1 this season; 23-7 in Horizon League; 35-23 overall

Crusaders All-Time in the League Tournament: Since joining the Horizon League, Valpo boasts three league tournament titles and has advanced to Championship Saturday on four occasions. The Crusaders own a 24-14 mark in the Horizon League Championship, including a 16-6 record in potential elimination games. Valpo holds a winning record in tournament play against all three of the teams in the field which it has faced: 6-2 vs. UIC, 5-2 vs. WSU and 5-1 vs. YSU. The Crusaders have not matched up with Oakland or Detroit Mercy at the Horizon League Championship.

Boom Boom Boom, Let Me Hear You Say Valpo: Valpo entered last weekend knowing it was in the tournament field, but needed to sweep the series with Wright State to have any chance to move up the seedings. The Crusaders did just that with a pair of one-run wins around a run-rule victory, finishing the league campaign at 14-10, good for third place. With the sweep of the Raiders, Valpo won six of its eight Horizon League series this year, matching the 2012 squad for the most series wins by a Crusader squad since joining the Horizon League.

Class of the League: Senior Sam Stewart received the Horizon League’s top honor on Tuesday, as she was tabbed the Horizon League Player of the Year. Stewart enters the league tournament leading all league players in eight different offensive categories, including the three Triple Crown categories. She also ranks among the top-15 nationally in walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and home runs/game. Stewart is just the second player in program history to be named league Player of the Year and the first to earn it outright, as Kaitlyn Ranieri was co-Player of the Year in 2014.

Sam, Sam, Sam of the Week: The league Player of the Year honor wasn’t the only accolade Stewart earned on Tuesday, however, as she was named the NFCA National Player of the Week for her performance in the series against Wright State. Stewart reached base in all 11 of her plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with eight walks (five intentional) while tallying six runs and three RBIs. Her 11 straight plate appearances reaching is tied for the seventh-longest streak in NCAA history.

Let the Ball Hit the Bat: While Stewart was given limited opportunities to swing the bat versus Wright State, she took full advantage when afforded the chance, singling in the opener and cranking two home runs in the series’ second game - the second of which was her 15th home run of the season to set a new program single-season record. Stewart’s .395 batting average would rank fourth in a season in program history, while she is on pace to demolish the previous mark for slugging percentage (.791, Stewart sits at .851). She also is already fourth in a single season at Valpo with 46 RBIs.

Baaaall Four, Baaaall Four: Of course, Stewart spent most of last weekend trotting down to first base, as she was issued eight walks - five of which were intentional. With her fifth walk of the weekend, she broke the Valpo single-season mark for walks and currently owns 44 free passes this season. Her .562 on-base percentage is also on pace for a new program record. Perhaps most impressive about the five intentional walks is that the Crusaders went on to score multiple runs in the inning after she was walked three of the five times.

She’s Got the Power, She’s Got the Speed to Be the Best in the Horizon League: Senior Jorgi Calombaris joined Stewart - her longtime neighbor and classmate - as a First Team All-League selection on Tuesday. Calombaris stepped up in Horizon League play, hitting .345 in league-only action with 12 runs scored and 18 RBIs, and ranks among the top-10 in the league in league-only play in hits, RBIs, doubles and total bases. She has been a rock defensively at third base as well, committing just five errors this year and tallying 127 assists – second in the Horizon League and seventh in a single season in program history.

C-A-R-L, Carl Carl Carl: Sophomore Carly Trepanier earned a spot on the Second Team All-League for the second time in as many seasons at Valpo for her work out of the leadoff spot for the Crusaders. Trepanier is hitting .364 overall, good for second on the team, and leads the team and ranks second in the league with 60 hits. She has swiped a team-best 15 bases, which ranks fourth among league players, and also ranks among the league’s top-six in runs scored, on-base percentage, batting average and total bases.

She’s Doing Work: Junior Kenzie Grossmann has been the workhorse of the Crusader pitching staff in league play, going 11-4 with a 2.76 ERA while tossing 88.2 of Valpo’s 168.2 innings in Horizon League action. Grossmann’s 11 league wins are the most ever by a Valpo pitcher in a single season in eague action, while she owns a 19-10 record overall - 19 wins tied for the third-most by a pitcher in one season in program history. Grossmann picked up two of the three wins in the Wright State series, tossing 15 innings and surrendering just seven hits and two earned runs.

See Ya: While Stewart’s home runs have piled up this year, it was a freshman going yard with the biggest homer of the Wright State series. Morgan Matalin stepped to the plate in a tie game, bottom of the eighth inning of the series opener without a home run to her name in a Crusader uniform. But she came through in a big way, knocking a 1-0 pitch the opposite way for her first career homer to give Valpo the momentum with the series-opening win.

New Life, Use It: Seven of the Crusaders’ 15 runs scored in the series sweep of Wright State came via two-strike base hits and came from four different hitters, perhaps none more important than the final base hit of the weekend. Freshman Hannah Dybalski was called upon to pinch-hit in the bottom of the sixth, trailing 1-0 with the bases loaded and two outs. To that point this year, Dybalski was just 1-for-11 as a pinch-hitter and had tallied just three RBIs. She fell behind 0-2, but battled back to a full count - fouling off three pitches in the meantime - before knocking in the game-winning runs with the clutch single.