A trip through the Southwest for the first time in program history highlights the early-season schedule, and Valparaiso will also host 17 home games this season as Valpo head coach Jordan Stevens announced today the Crusaders’ 2012 softball schedule.
The season begins with the earliest start in program history, as the Crusaders open with a trip to Cedar Falls, Iowa to play in the UNI Ramada Dome Tournament Feb. 10-12. Two weekends later, Valpo makes the trek to Chattanooga, Tenn. to compete in the Frost Classic, hosted by UT-Chattanooga.
Then comes the journey through the Southwest, as the Crusaders will take the field in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California for the first time ever. The trip kicks off at the UTEP Invitational Mar. 2-4, followed by a brief stop for a single game at New Mexico State Mar. 6.
The trek west continues with the Diamond Devil Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., hosted by 2011 national champions Arizona State, Mar. 9-11. The final tournament of the trip is the San Diego Classic II, co-hosted by San Diego and San Diego State. The Crusaders will take on both host institutions, as well as CSU Bakersfield, Long Beach State and UNLV, over a three-day span Mar. 16-18.
Valpo’s return to the Midwest coincides with its home opener at the Valparaiso University Softball Field, where the Crusaders went 10-3-1 in 2011, as it hosts IUPUI for a doubleheader on Mar. 20. Other non-league home action includes a single game against Purdue (Mar. 29) and a twinbill with Western Michigan (May 2). The Crusaders will play a pair of non-league dates on the road as well, traveling to Bowling Green for a doubleheader (Apr. 4) and Notre Dame for a single game (Apr. 18).
“Our non-conference schedule will be a good competitive challenge for our group,” said Stevens. “We will travel to play some of the best teams in the country, all with the idea that this is what will prepare towards our goal of being Horizon League champions.”
The Horizon League schedule, which consists of three-game series against each of the other eight league schools, kicks off Mar. 24-25 as Valpo travels to Detroit. The Crusaders will also take on Wright State, UIC and Cleveland State on the road, while hosting Green Bay, Youngstown State, Butler and Loyola. The regular season ends May 6 at Cleveland State, with the 2012 Horizon League Championship scheduled for May 9-12 at the regular season champion. The winner of the league tournament earns an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
“There are no days off in the Horizon League,” said Stevens. “Our league is so balanced and full of very good talent that it makes for a very exciting conference season.”
Valpo also announced its fall 2011 schedule as well Wednesday. The Crusaders will play twice at home during the fall season, hosting Purdue North Central and Saint Joseph’s College for a game apiece on Sept. 24 and hosting Lake Land College for a doubleheader on Oct. 8. Valpo travels to Illinois for a single game on Sept. 25 and to Notre Dame for a doubleheader on Oct. 2.