Valparaiso (8-11, 0-0 Horizon)
Wright State (6-11, 1-2 Horizon)
Friday, March 22nd, 5:30 p.m. CDT
Saturday, March 23rd, 12:00 p.m. CDT
Saturday, March 23rd, 3:00 p.m. CDT
Nischwitz Stadium - Dayton, Ohio
This Week in Crusader Baseball: The Crusaders return to the diamond five days removed from their 13-game trip to Florida to begin their defense of the Horizon League Championship title. They won four of their last five games to salvage a winning record on the 17-day journey. The home opener originally scheduled for Wednesday against Roosevelt was pushed back due to inclement weather. This weekend’s series suffered the same fate, though the two teams agreed to switch the dates it would host. As a result, the Raiders and the Crusaders will play in Valparaiso April 26th-28th.
On the Air: All three games this weekend can be viewed through valpoathletics.com. This weekend’s video is courtesy of Wright State. Live stats will be available through valpoathletics.com as well.
Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson, the 16th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his seventh season at the helm of the Crusaders and has a 163-193 (.459) record both for his career as well as at Valpo. Woodson ranks third in school history for career wins by a head coach. A member of the Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Champion team, he has also managed in the minor leagues through the AAA level.
Probable Starters: Senior RHP Kyle Wormington (1-3, 3.09) will take the ball in the first game of the three-game set for the Crusaders. Wright State will counter with fellow senior RHP Casey Henn (2-3, 3.52). Game one of Saturday’s doubleheader will feature transfer standout RHP Cole Webb (2-3, 1.70) opposite junior RHP Joey Hoelzel (0-2, 6.00). Game two will see RHP Chris DeBoo (1-4, 4.68) on the mound for Valpo. The Raiders are undecided on their starter for the second game. RHP Taylor Braun (0-3, 7.66) has made five starts so far.
Series Notes: Wright State has a 21-8 all-time series advantage. The Crusaders lost all three games at home last season by a combined four runs. Valpo responded by winning two of three in Dayton later in the season including a 4-3 win on May 6th that propelled the Crusaders into a tie for first place in the Horizon League with Wright State. Five of six meetings in 2012 were decided by one run.
Looking Back: Valparaiso finished 2012 with a 35-25 record overall and a 22-8 mark in the Horizon League. The Crusaders took first place in both the regular season and Horizon League Tournament in Chicago before they made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 44 years.
Scouting the Raiders: Wright State currently stands at 6-11 overall. The Raiders opened Horizon League play last weekend with a series loss to visiting Milwaukee including a 15-2 defeat to the Panthers in the rubber game Sunday. Wright State won their first three games before being swept by Clemson and #12 UCLA on consecutive weekends. The Raiders were shutout four times in their first nine losses.
Because of his redshirt last year, Valpo hasn’t seen Casey Henn since 2011. The right-hander made two starts against the Crusaders two seasons ago, earning a complete game victory on May 7th in a 10-4 Raider win and a no-decision on May 28th in the Horizon League Conference Tournament. For his career, Henn has made three appearances against Valpo, tabulating a 5.52 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP to accompany his 1-0 record.
Joey Hoelzel has one career appearance against the Crusaders. The junior came in to relieve Cody Kopilchack in the third inning on May 6th last year. Hoelzel threw 5 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, allowed one hit, one run, walked three and struck out one. The righty didn’t factor into the decision as Valpo held on to win 4-3.
If Raider skipper Rob Cooper decides to go with Braun in game two on Saturday it’ll be the junior’s fifth appearance and fourth start against the Brown and Gold. Braun’s only decision was a win on April 1 last year when the right-hander beat the Crusaders 4-3 in Valparaiso. He owns a lifetime 6.60 earned-run average and a 1.47 WHIP against Valpo to go along with his 1-0 record.
For Valpo, Wormington is the only Crusader starting pitcher to have faced Wright State. He was on both sides of 4-3 tilts, taking the loss on April 1st and earning his fouirth victory of 2012 on May 6th. The senior has allowed six earned runs in 14 innings against the Raiders, good for a 3.86 ERA.
Wabash Valley College transfer Mark Fowler and his .387 batting average is pacing the Wright State offense. Fellow junior college transfer Kieston Greene leads the Raiders with three home runs, two of which came in a 25-0 laugher over Division III Wilmington College last Tuesday. The outfielder earned HL Player of the Week recognition last week. Junior outfielder Beau Phillips has drawn 13 walks to go along with his .333 average. 2012 Second Team All-Horizon League shortstop Justin Kopale is off to a slow start, batting just .200.
Et Cetera: Through nineteen contests, Valpo has neither scored nor allowed double digits runs in a game...At 8-11, the Crusaders sit three games ahead of where they were a year ago after nineteen games...Chris DeBoo’s outing against Miami (OH) last Saturday represented the righty’s first start with a walk since February 17th at Belmont...The weekend starters collectively are 4-10, despite a combined 3.10 earned-run average...Entering the season as arguably the best middle infield in the Horizon League, Spencer Mahoney and Tanner Vavra have amassed seventeen errors already...The average time of game for Valpo tilts in which Cole Webb is on the mound is 2 hours, 15 minutes...Rob Cooper was named manager of the 2013 18U National Team this past January.