The Crusaders will kick off the season with five games in a three-day span at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. Valpo will face Sacred Heart, Missouri State and Tennessee Tech in the first three games before taking on two opponents to be determined after preliminary play. The Crusaders will then head down to Orlando for their annual set of games at the Rebel Spring Games.
“We were trying to get into another tournament that would have given us the opportunity to face some nationally-ranked opposition, but that opportunity fell through,” said Schneider. “But it gives us the chance to spend some extra time at the Rebel Spring Games and play some extra games, and with a young team like ours, it’s important to get as many games in as possible before the start of league play.”
The non-conference slate is highlighted by an April 9 showdown at Notre Dame and a home twinbill against Purdue on April 16, against whom Valpo is 4-3-1 under Schneider. Other action outside of league play includes a home doubleheader against IPFW and road twinbills against Ball State, IUPUI and Northern Illinois.
Horizon League play kicks off for Valpo at home on March 21 and 22 against Detroit. The Crusaders will play each league team in a three-game series, with a doubleheader on the first day and a single game on the second day. Wright State, UIC and Cleveland State will also be visiting the Valparaiso University Softball Field, while the Crusaders will hit the road to face Loyola, Youngstown State, Green Bay and Butler. The Horizon League Championships will be held May 7-10 in Indianapolis, Ind., with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Valparaiso returns four starters and 13 letterwinners in all from its 2008 squad, which set a new school record with 30 victories and finished second in the league’s regular season standings.