Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Youthful Crusaders Seek in Search of Mid-Con Title in 2005

Thursday, March 03, 2005

After reaching the championship round of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament in 2004, the Valparaiso Crusaders have raised their expectations heading into the 2005 season.

Head coach Randy Schneider's squad is young, with just three upperclass returnees on the roster. However, despite the youthfulness of the team, the Crusaders are an athletic group of players that have balance across the diamond. Valpo is talented at every position on the field, and hopes the offense, defense, and pitching gel together in the quest for a Mid-Continent Conference title this season.

Valpo sports a young but talented pitching staff. Senior Brittany Atteberry will be relied upon for her experience to help guide the rest of the staff. Last season she came out of the bullpen in 20 of her 31 appearances for the Crusaders. Valpo's only other returnee in the circle is Ashlee Blankenbaker. The sophomore is recovering from off-season surgery, and will look to return to the form she opened last season with, where she finished with a 2.02 earned run average. A trio of freshmen round out the rotation for the Crusaders. Kayla Grutz, Chris Halstead, and Andrea Zappia each have their own pitching style, and will be looked upon to step up and help Valpo in the circle.

Behind the plate the Crusaders are looking for someone to step up and take over the position. Sophomore Allison Whitesell along with freshmen Shannon Robinson and Courtney LaFerle all are vying for the starting role this season.

Valpo's infield will be one of the program's strengths in 2005. Mid-Con All-Tournament Team member Taylor Callahan along with Beth Adamski both started more than 50 games as freshmen and will help solidify the corner positions for the Crusaders this season. Senior Amy Mitchell is recovering from injury, but will probably miss most of the year.

In the middle infield, freshmen Alicia Ashburn and Stacy Adamski will battle for the second base job to open the year. Both have a great deal of speed and will contribute on the basepaths for the Brown and Gold. At shortstop, LaFerle and Mallory Gill are battling for the starting job. Both have solid gloves and a great deal of range that will be a key to the Crusaders success in the infield.

Valpo's outfield will have quality depth at all three positions this season. Kelly Silvey moves from the infield and has made the offseason adjustment fairly easily. The senior enters her final year after finishing second on the team in stolen bases last season. Junior college transfer Ann Sievert is a solid addition to the Valpo outfield as well. The NFCA Junior College All-American is quick and adds range to the outfield.

Sophomores Megan Carroll and Jessica Schultz both have a year's worth of experience under their belt for Schneider, and both are much improved from their rookie season. Emily Tkaczyk, a freshman, has the potential to be an offensive threat for the Crusaders, and will compete for time in the outfield as will Maggie Seidel.

Offensively, Valpo has a line-up that has a great deal of speed. Over the second half of the 2004 season the Crusaders proved that they were able to score runs, and will look for that late season success to carry over this year.

Valpo's schedule is certainly a challenging one as the Crusaders have numerous NCAA Tournament Teams from 2004 on the slate this year. The Brown and Gold open the season March 5-6 at the Southern Illinois Classic in Carbondale, facing the host Salukis along with Ball State and Kansas. The following weekend, the Crusaders venture to the Shocker Invitational at Wichita State to compete with a field that includes Texas Tech and Nebraska in addition to the hosts. Sandwiched between the tournaments is a trip to Norman, Oklahoma for a doubleheader against the Sooners, a Women's College World Series participant.

The Crusaders' non-conference slate also features games against Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, DePaul, and Illinois-Chicago. Valpo opens its 2005 Mid-Con schedule March 25 and 26 at Centenary and it will culminate with the Mid-Con Tournament May 13 and 14 in Kansas City, Missouri.

If Valpo's youthful squad becomes veterans quickly while playing the challenging schedule, the Crusaders should be able to contend for the Mid-Con crown at season's end.
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25 UIC
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo