Valparaiso (15-27, 4-19 MVC)
Game #43 - Friday, May 3 - 3 p.m.
Games #44-45 - Saturday, May 4 - noon DH
vs. Illinois State (14-32, 8-10 MVC)
at Valpo Softball Complex
Next Up in Valpo Softball: The regular season comes to an end this weekend, as Valpo welcomes Illinois State to campus for the final three-game MVC series of the year. Saturday will be Senior Day at the Valpo Softball Complex, as the program recognizes seniors Carly Trepanier and Jaymee Lawton prior to the final home game of their careers.
Previously: Valpo dropped a three-game series last weekend at Evansville by final scores of 9-1, 6-2 and 4-3. The Brown and Gold were slated for a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday at Northern Illinois, but the twinbill was washed out - the seventh and eighth games Valpo has lost due to weather this season.
Looking Ahead: The 2019 MVC Tournament opens up on Wednesday, May 8 in Peoria, Ill., hosted by Bradley. The single-elimination tournament runs through Saturday, May 11.
Following Valpo Softball: All three games this weekend will have live audio broadcasts on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Live stats for all three games will also be available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Kate Stake: Kate Stake was hired as head coach of the Valparaiso softball program on July 23, 2014 and is in her fifth season as head coach in 2019. Stake, who is 104-143 at Valpo, 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. She played her collegiate softball at fellow MVC member Illinois State and is a 2005 graduate of ISU.
Series Notes: Despite being separated by just 2 1/2 hours, Valpo and Illinois State had only met once prior to their MVC series last season - two wins for the Redbirds in 1995. Last year, in Valpo’s first season in the Valley, the Crusaders took two of three games in Normal, bookending the series with 9-0 and 4-1 wins, while the Redbirds earned a 4-0 victory in the middle game.
Valpo Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll: Valpo was tabbed to finish in sixth position in the MVC preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s head coaches. Valpo tallied 53 points in the polling to finish in sixth position, just five points behind Illinois State for fifth place. Drake topped the poll with 99 points, including nine first-place votes.
Looking Back at 2018: Valpo made an immediate impact in its transition to the Missouri Valley Conference in 2018. Despite the move to the MVC, which concluded the 2018 season 12th in the nation in conference RPI - a 16-spot jump from the Horizon League the previous year - the Crusaders posted a 27-24 record and improved on their team RPI by 67 spots from the previous season. After being picked ninth in the preseason poll, Valpo earned a fourth-place regular season finish and advanced to the MVC Tournament semifinals. Valpo boasted the MVC Newcomer of the Year and a Second Team All-Conference honoree in Kelsie Packard.
Look at the Ratings: Valpo’s front end of the MVC slate was loaded, as the four MVC teams which currently reside in the top-100 in the RPI accounted for the Crusaders’ first four Valley weekend series. In Monday’s NCAA RPI release, Valpo came in at 196, while as a conference, the MVC boasted four top-100 teams and ranked 11th - one spot higher than its 12th-place finish a year ago. For comparison, the Horizon League was 28th in 2017 in Valpo’s final season as a league member. In fact, Valpo has played 15 games this year against top-100 RPI teams, 11 of which have come in MVC play - compared to 13 such games in its final two years in the Horizon League combined, none of which were league games.
Conference Tournament Awaits: The MVC Tournament begins next Wednesday in Peoria, Ill., with the seventh through tenth seeds playing on the first day of action. Valpo will be either the ninth or tenth seed, and will take on Illinois State, Loyola or Evansville on Wednesday. In the single-elimination stepladder bracket, teams that play on Wednesday would have to win five games to win the tournament title, while the first and second seeds have to win just twice.
Celebrating the Seniors: Seniors Carly Trepanier and Jaymee Lawton will be playing the final home games of their respective careers this weekend. Trepanier has been a part of 88 wins over her four-year career at Valpo, while Lawton has spent the last three seasons in a Crusader uniform and has been a part of 70 victories. Trepanier has started 186 consecutive games and has made 195 appearances in all, while Lawton has started all 140 of her appearances at Valpo. Trepanier ranks among Valpo’s all-time top-10 in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, at-bats, runs scored, triples, total bases, walks and stolen bases. Meanwhile, Lawton is among Valpo’s all-time best in home runs and slugging percentage at the plate, as well as assists in the field.
Three-Hit Games: Valpo went through its first 35 games of the season without a single player registering a three-hit game, but over the last two weekends, the Crusaders have come up with a trio of three-hit performances - all from freshmen. Peyton Moeder recorded three hits in each of the first two games of the series against Indiana State, and then most recently, Jaina Westphal tallied three hits in the series finale at Evansville.
Saving Homers For Conference: Junior Morgan Matalin connected on her fifth career home run in the middle game of last weekend’s series at Evansville. All five of her homers have come within conference play - one as a freshman in the Horizon League, and then two apiece last season and this year in MVC action.