Kate Stake | Head Coach
Valparaiso University director of athletics Mark LaBarbera announced on July 23, 2014 that Kate Stake has been hired as the head coach of the Valpo softball program. Stake, who enters her fourth season at the helm of the Crusaders in 2018, led Valpo to the Horizon League Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in her second year in 2016.
In 2017, Stake guided the Crusaders to 28 victories and a third-place finish in the Horizon League standings. Under her tutelage, senior Sam Stewart was named the Horizon League Player of the Year and was a Second Team All-Region selection as she set new program single-season records for home runs, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage while leading the league in seven offensive categories.
Senior Jorgi Calombaris joined Stewart as a First Team All-League choice in 2017, while sophomore Carly Trepanier was a Second Team All-League and Third Team All-Region selection. 2017 marked just the second season in program history in which multiple Crusaders received All-Region accolades.
Stake led Valpo as it put together one of the most dramatic runs imaginable to earn the Horizon League Championship in 2016. The Crusaders earned a berth in the league tournament with a win in the final weekend of the regular season, and then ran through the league tournament undefeated as the sixth seed, posting four straight wins to earn the title and the league's berth into the NCAA Tournament.
A pair of Crusaders earned All-League honors in Stake's second season, as both senior Taylor Weissenhofer and freshman Carly Trepanier earned Second Team accolades, while Trepanier was also an All-Freshman Team selection. After the Crusaders' run to the Horizon League title, junior Sam Stewart was selected as tournament MVP, sophomore Lanie Callaghan the tournament's Batting Champion and Weissenhofer the Pitcher of the Tournament, while Trepanier joined the aforementioned trio on the All-Tournament Team.
Stake led the Crusaders to one of the top offensive seasons in program history in her first year in 2015. Valpo hit .300 as a team and set a new team single-season record with a .381 on-base percentage, as the Crusaders scored nearly five runs per game. Valpo finished tied for fourth in the Horizon League standings in Stake's first season in charge, as she guided three All-League selections, including First Team All-League and Second Team NFCA All-Region choice Kaitlyn Ranieri.
Prior to arriving at Valparaiso, Stake spent two seasons on the coaching staff at Hofstra, working under NFCA Hall of Fame head coach Bill Edwards and helping the Pride to a combined 81 wins over her two years. The 2014 squad went 35-14 and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, finishing the season ranked #33 in RPI. Eight members of the Pride were named NFCA All-Region honorees this past season as well.
In her first season, Stake was part of the NFCA Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year which led Hofstra to a 46-13 record as the Pride won regular season and conference tournament championships. Hofstra ended the 2013 campaign ranked #19 in RPI and #25 nationally in the NFCA/USA Today poll, and advanced to the NCAA regional title game. In both of Stake’s seasons with the Pride, Hofstra hit better than .300 and had six regulars hit above the .300 mark.
Prior to her time at Hofstra, Stake spent three seasons as an assistant coach at the United States Military Academy, working primarily with the infielders and serving as the hitting coach. During her time at Army, the program set new single-season records for wins, conference wins, hits and total bases, while in Stake’s final season with the Black Knights, four players made the school's single-season top-10s in hits and RBIs and two players moved into the single-season top-10 in batting average.
Defensively, Stake helped the Black Knights post the Patriot League's top fielding percentage in 2011, while Army ranked second in the category in 2010 and 2012 as well. Over her three seasons, five infielders earned All-Conference accolades, including three First Team selections under her tutelage.
Before arriving at West Point, Stake served two years as a full-time assistant coach for Eastern Illinois after one season as a graduate assistant in 2007. As the primary defensive instructor and first-base coach, Stake also aided in recruiting, concentrating on the Midwest region. Off the field, she monitored the team's academic progress and helped coordinate fundraising efforts while also organizing the team's travel arrangements.
A 2005 graduate of Illinois State, Stake started four years at second base for the Redbirds, playing for NFCA Hall of Fame head coach Melinda Fischer, ranking among Illinois State’s all-time leaders in games started, hits, home runs, RBIs and total bases.
The Buffalo Grove, Ill. native earned Second Team All-American honors in 2005 and was a four-time All-Conference selection – including First Team accolades each of her final two years. She was the recipient of the Linda Herman Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year at Illinois State, the school’s highest academic award given to a student-athlete, and was an Academic All-American as well. In the classroom, Stake earned a bachelor's degree in English education from Illinois State and a master's degree in kinesiology and sports studies from Eastern Illinois.
Monica Wright | Associate Head Coach
Monica Wright joined the Valparaiso softball coaching staff as an assistant coach in July of 2015 and was promoted to associate head coach in June of 2017. Wright, who enters her third season with the Crusaders in 2018, works directly with the Crusader pitching staff.
The impact of Wright's work with the Valpo pitchers has been immediate and impressive. Over the past two seasons, the ERA of Valpo’s pitching staff has dropped by over three runs per game, while opponents are hitting nearly 100 points worse than they were the season before Wright’s arrival. The Crusaders also issued nearly 40% fewer walks and allowed nearly 45% fewer home runs in 2017 as compared to 2015.
Wright guided Kenzie Grossmann in her first season as a Crusader in 2017 to a Horizon League-best 20 victories, as Grossmann finished the year 20-12 with a 3.05 ERA and 120 strikeouts. Grossmann’s 20 wins ranked third in a single season in program history, while she also cracked Valpo’s single-season top-10 in strikeouts.
In her first season at Valpo in 2016, Wright's work with Valpo's pitchers paid dividends as the Crusaders claimed the Horizon League Championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Wright coached Taylor Weissenhofer to Second Team All-League accolades as she closed out her career as the program's all-time leader in strikeouts. Weissenhofer was also selected as the Pitcher of the Tournament at the Horizon League Championship as Crusader pitchers posted a 1.69 ERA in the team's four wins in their remarkable run to the league title.
During her four years at Bowling Green, Wright led a pitching staff which posted a cumulative ERA of 2.55 over her tenure. In 2012, the Falcons finished the season with a 2.10 ERA, which ranked 32nd in the country, while the next season saw BGSU post a MAC-best earned run average of 2.17, good for 24th nationally.
Wright guided a pair of pitchers while at BGSU who both rank among the Falcons’ top-10 winningest pitchers of all time and are 1-2 in Bowling Green history in saves. Jamie Kertes finished her career third in program history in strikeouts and fourth in victories. Kertes was named the MAC Freshman of the Year in 2012 and was a two-time First Team All-Conference award winner. Meanwhile, Paris Imholz was an All-Freshman Team selection as a rookie and was also a Second Team All-Conference honoree.
Prior to arriving at Bowling Green, Wright spent the 2011 season as an assistant pitching coach at Elon, where she helped guide the Phoenix to 30 victories as a pair of pitchers ranked among the top-seven in program history in single-season strikeouts. Wright has also spent time as a pitching instructor at Elite Sports Performance in Oswego, Ill. where she educated pitchers on proper pitching mechanics and fundamentals, as well as leading conditioning and agility drills.
Wright played three years collegiately at Indiana, where she made 124 career appearances, tossing 48 complete games. She recorded 30 wins as a Hoosier and registered 348 strikeouts. A Big Ten All-Academic Team choice, Wright ranks among the Hoosiers’ top-six all-time in career appearances, starts and innings pitched. She spent her first season at UNI, tallying team highs with 169.2 innings pitched and 91 strikeouts, before transferring to IU.
Tarah McShane | Graduate Assistant
Tarah McShane enters her second season as a graduate assistant with Valpo in 2018.
McShane joined the Crusader coaching staff prior to the 2016-17 school year, helping Valpo to 28 wins and a third-place finish in the Horizon League standings in her first season back on campus.
McShane returned to Valpo after spending a year at UIC as a volunteer assistant coach. She helped guide the Flames to the Horizon League regular season title in 2016, as UIC won 32 games and saw eight players earn All-League recognition.
McShane enjoyed a stellar career on the diamond for the Crusaders as a catcher, corner infielder and designated player. Valpo won 117 games over her four-year career (2012-2015), including a pair of Horizon League titles in 2012 and 2013. McShane appeared in 168 games, including 159 starts, over her four years as a Crusader and concluded her time at Valpo second in program history in fielding percentage (.989), seventh all-time in RBIs (94) and doubles (36), ninth in home runs (14) and tenth in putouts (536).
McShane earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Valparaiso University in 2015. She is currently working towards a master's degree in sports administration.
Kayti Grable | Graduate Assistant
Valparaiso University softball head coach Kate Stake announced in early July that Kayti Grable – a three-time All-Region honoree as a player at Northern Illinois University – will join the Crusader coaching staff in the fall of 2017 as a graduate assistant.
Grable closed out her career at NIU in 2017 by being named a Second Team All-Region honoree by the NFCA for the third consecutive season, hitting .384 with 45 RBIs. A four-time First Team All-MAC choice and the 2014 MAC Freshman of the Year, Grable concluded her time with the Huskies as the program’s all-time leader in home runs (40) and RBIs (179) and second in program history in career hits (242), finishing as a lifetime .386 hitter.
Grable also excelled in the classroom during her time at NIU, earning Academic All-MAC recognition three times and being named a MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete each of her final three seasons. As a senior, Grable earned a spot on the CoSIDA Second Team Academic All-District V squad. She brings experience to Valpo assisting with NIU’s various softball camps, while she also has volunteered with the So Cal Breakers softball organization.
Grable graduated from Northern Illinois University in the spring of 2017 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.