Valpo In The Valley: Softball
Friday, August 11, 2017
Valpo In The Valley: Softball

Concluding the #ValpoInTheValley series, which will take a look at each of the Missouri Valley Conference’s 17 sports, is softball. Learn about the landscape of The Valley in softball, how Valpo has fared against opponents from The Valley in the past, and hear from head coach Kate Stake as she talks about what the program is looking forward to entering its first season of MVC competition and who will lead the way in 2018 for her team.

MVC Softball

All 10 MVC member institutions sponsor softball – Bradley, Drake, Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, Loyola, Missouri State, UNI, Southern Illinois and Valpo.

Did You Know?

Valpo head coach Kate Stake was a standout in The Valley during her collegiate playing career at Illinois State from 2002-2005. Stake was a four-time All-Conference honoree, earning First Team honors each of her final two seasons. She paced the conference in hits in league-only play as a junior and capped her career by being named a Second Team Academic All-American in 2005.

A Look Back at 2017 

MVC Regular Season 








Illinois State



Southern Illinois



Wichita State









Missouri State






Indiana State






MVC Championship

May 13, 2017 – Normal, Ill. – Southern Illinois 4, UNI 3

NCAA Tournament

Southern Illinois (Oxford Regional, 0-2)

Ole Miss 8, Southern Illinois 0

North Carolina 4, Southern Illinois 0


The Crusaders finished the 2017 campaign with a 28-23 overall record and finished in third place in the Horizon League Standings, posting a 14-10 mark in league play.

The season was highlighted by the play of graduated senior Sam Stewart, who was named Horizon League Player of the Year and an NFCA Second Team All-Region honoree. Stewart led the Horizon League in seven different offensive categories and set new single-season program records for home runs (15), walks (49), on-base percentage (.568) and slugging percentage (.836). She finished the year ranked second nationally in walks/game and fourth in on-base percentage.

Stewart was joined as an All-Region selection by rising junior Carly Trepanier, who received Third Team All-Region and Second Team All-League accolades. Trepanier hit .358 as a sophomore with 31 runs scored, nine doubles and 15 stolen bases out of the leadoff spot of the order. Graduated senior Jorgi Calombaris picked up First Team All-League honors as well, hitting .345 with 12 runs scored and 18 RBIs in Horizon League play.

Joining Trepanier to lead the returnees are senior center fielder Taylor Lawson – who is back for a fifth year after suffering a season-ending injury in the early portion of the 2017 campaign – and senior pitcher Kenzie Grossmann. Grossmann tallied 20 victories in the circle last year, leading the Horizon League and ranking third in a single season in program history.

The Valley on the National Stage

Last season was a rarity for The Valley, as it was just the second time in the last 15 seasons that the MVC has sent just one team to the NCAA Tournament and had that team come away winless.

Schools in The Valley have won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven years, with Illinois State posting a 2-2 record in regional play in 2012. The last multi-bid year for the MVC was 2011, when both Missouri State and Illinois State earned spots in the tournament field.

The most wins by a school from The Valley in the current NCAA Tournament format is three. Southern Illinois went 3-2 in the 2003 tournament, and then both SIU and Creighton posted 3-2 records in the 2004 tournament.

Valpo Versus The Valley

Outside of Loyola, Valpo has very little recent history against any of The Valley programs. The Crusaders have played just two games apiece against Drake, Indiana State, Missouri State and UNI in the last 10 seasons.

Valpo and Loyola shared membership in the Horizon League from 2007 through 2013 and had a very competitive series on the softball diamond, with the Ramblers holding a slight 11-10 advantage over those years. Valpo was 3-1 against Loyola in the Horizon League Championship in that span, knocking the Ramblers out of the 2011 tournament and then capping its run to the 2012 tournament title with a pair of walk-off victories over the Ramblers.

Looking Ahead to 2018

The Valley plays a round-robin schedule in softball, totaling 27 conference games. Teams play three-game series on each of eight consecutive weekends – four home and four away. The three-game series against your travel partner (Valpo’s travel partner is Loyola) is split into two mid-week dates – one a doubleheader at one location, and one a single game at the other location.

The top eight teams in the regular season conference standings advance to the MVC Tournament, which is contested in a modified single-elimination format. The 2018 tournament will be hosted in Des Moines, Iowa by Drake on May 10-12.