VALPARAISO (24-11, 6-3) at CENTENARY (19-24, 4-5)
CENTENARY COLLEGE SOFTBALL COMPLEX - SHREVEPORT, LA.
APRIL 27-28, 2007
The Matchup: Valparaiso comes into this weekend's series having won seven of its last eight games, and currently sits in a tie for second in the Mid-Con. Centenary beat Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday to break a seven game losing skid, and is 4-5 in Mid-Con play. The two teams have met 14 times, with the Ladies holding a 12-2 edge in the all-time series.
Last Meeting: The Ladies of Centenary took three out of four games from the Crusaders in a late-season Mid-Con series on April 21-22, 2006 at the Valparaiso University Softball Field. Valpo took the series opener 4-3, thanks to an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh by Courtney LaFerle, driving in Ann Sievert. Andrea Zappia earned the victory with 4 2/3 innings of work, giving up just four hits and one run. The Ladies took the nightcap on the 21st, 12-5, in large part due to grand slams from Emerald Doria and Lauren Flowers. The next day, the Ladies took advantage of Valpo errors to plate four unearned runs over the two games and sweep the doubleheader by identical 4-2 scores.
Last Time Out: Andrea Zappia tossed a one-hitter with a career-high 12 strikeouts, while Tracy Korth gave Valpo all the offense it would need with a first-inning grand slam as the Crusaders defeated South Dakota State in the opener of a doubleheader Saturday, 5-1. The Brown and Gold completed the doubleheader sweep, taking the nightcap from the Jackrabbits, 5-2. Megan Carroll tallied a single of her own, while Whitney Warner walked to load the bases and set up Korth's first career round-tripper, making the score 5-0 after one-half inning. The Crusaders would again score all the runs they would need in the top of the first inning in the nightcap, plating three in their first time at-bat.
On The Air: None of this weekend's games will be broadcast. Valparaiso's student radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, is scheduled to broadcast each of the Crusaders' 15 home games as well as selected road games. The broadcasts will also be available online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
Keep On Winning: The 2007 incarnation of the Crusaders are poised to become the winningest team in program history. With 11 scheduled games remaining, Valpo already owns 24 wins on the season, the third-most in a single season in program history. The school record for wins in a season is 27, done twice, in 1986 and 1987. Valpo is also on pace to break the mark for best winning percentage, set by the 1987 squad, which went 27-15 (.643).
Record-Setting Pace: This year's squad is also looking to break numerous team offensive records. The 2007 Crusaders currently hold the best team batting average (.283) and slugging percentage (.398) in program history, and are among the top-three seasons all-time at Valpo in runs scored, doubles, home runs, total bases and stolen bases.
No-Hitter: Kelly and Franson's combined no-hitter against IPFW April 16 was the Crusaders' first since holding St. Thomas Aquinas hitless in the opening game of a doubleheader on March 12, 2002 in a 5-0 win. In Monday's game, Kelly got the start and tossed the first three innings, striking out five Mastodons to earn the win . Franson threw the final two innings, registering two strikeouts.
Best Start Ever: Valparaiso started its season 9-3 at the Rebel Spring Games, marking the best 12-game start for a Crusader squad in program history. The previous best 12-game start was 8-4, first accomplished in 1983 and matched by the 1985 team.
Stringing Together the Victories: Included in that 9-3 start at the Rebel Spring Games was an eight-game winning streak to close out the competition. The eight straight victories matched the second-longest such streak in Crusader history, as the 1988 team also enjoyed eight consecutive wins. The school record winning streak was set in 1987, when Valpo reeled off nine straight victories.
Cutting it Close: Each of the last five victories in Valpo's eight game winning streak came by the exact same margin - one run. The five straight one-run victories set a new program record for most consecutive one-run wins.
Valpo Picked Fourth in Mid-Con: The Valparaiso University softball team has been tabbed to finish in fourth place in the Mid-Continent Conference in preseason polling of the league's head coaches. Valpo garnered 18 points in the polling, which granted seven points for a first-place vote. Western Illinois is the preseason favorite to take top honors in the Mid-Con, registering 32 points, including three first-place votes. Centenary and Southern Utah each received two first-place votes and tallied 30 and 29 points, respectively. IUPUI checked in at 17 points, good for fifth place, while Oakland (13) and UMKC (8) rounded out the voting.
Senior Leadership: The 2007 Crusader squad boasts five seniors who are attempting to lead Valpo to a Mid-Continent Conference championship for the first time in program history. Included among the five seniors are two of the most prolific hitters in Crusader history: infielder Taylor Callahan and outfielder Megan Carroll. Also counted among the Valpo senior leaders are infielder Beth Adamski, outfielder Jessica Schultz and catcher Allison Whitesell.
Zappia Sets Mid-Con Mark: Junior pitcher Andrea Zappia became the Mid-Continent Conference career leader in saves last week when she picked up her 14th career save at South Dakota State. The two-inning, three-strikeout performance in the nightcap against the Jackrabbits was her fifth save of the season, tying her for third nationally. Her 14 career saves are tied for 14th all-time in NCAA Division I softball. Zappia has proven her ability as both a starter and a closer this year, going 6-6 in 24 appearances, including 12 starts. Her 3.02 ERA ranks fifth in the league, while her 92 strikeouts are good for third in the Mid-Con and her .243 opponents' batting average is the best in the league.
Callahan Leading Off: Senior infielder Taylor Callahan moved into the Crusaders' leadoff position from the cleanup spot 11 games ago, and looks poised to keep leading off for the rest of the season. Since the move, the senior is hitting .475 in 40 at-bats, has at least one hit in every game, and is slugging at an incredible .850 clip, including nine of her Mid-Con leading 12 doubles. Callahan ranks among Valpo's all-time top-three players in career hits, doubles, home runs, runs scored, RBIs and assists, and has a legit chance to finish as the top Crusader all-time in a number of the categories.
Carroll Cleans Up: Senior outfielder Megan Carroll was on the other end of the lineup switch, going from leadoff to cleanup in the batting order. Carroll has also benefited from the change, hitting .432 over the last 11 contests, including a .632 clip over Valpo's six games last week. Included among those six games was a 2-for-4, 3-RBI performance in the victory over Purdue, where she also scored the game-winning run, and a 2-for-3 game at Notre Dame. Carroll currently sits fifth among Valpo's all-time list with a .313 career batting average, and is also among the top five in hits and doubles, despite missing the second half of her junior year.
Robinson Steps Up: Shannon Robinson got her first taste of life this season out from behind the plate this past weekend, playing two games at shortstop against South Dakota State. The Crusader backstop has performed well behind the plate this year, throwing out eight of 25 runners attempting to steal and not allowing any passed balls. At the plate, Robinson leads the league with a .384 batting average and, with at least 11 games remaining, is among Valpo's single-season top-five in hits and runs scored.
Centenary On the Season: The Ladies come into this weekend's series with a 20-24 record this season, including a 10-7 mark in Shreveport. Centenary is 4-5 in Mid-Con play through three series, and currently sits outside the top four spots in the league. Four Centenary regulars are batting over .300 on the season, led by Allison McClain's .324 clip. Allison Shepperd is second on the team with 23 runs scored and has 17 extra-base hits, including 12 doubles, tied for the Mid-Con lead. The Ladies boast a diverse game on the basepaths, as seven different players have at least six stolen bases. In the circle, Centenary utilizes a three-pitcher rotation, with freshman Kelsey Greeson boasting the best numbers (4.01 ERA, seven wins, six saves, 80 strikeouts).