Kate Stake | Head Coach
Valparaiso University director of athletics Mark LaBarbera announced on July 23, 2014 that Kate Stake has been hired as the new head coach of the Crusader softball program. Stake comes to Valpo with eight seasons of assistant coaching experience at the Division I level, most recently serving as an assistant at mid-major power Hofstra.
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 | Assistant Coach
Monica Wright joined the Valparaiso softball coaching staff as an assistant coach in July of 2015. Wright, who spent the four previous seasons at Bowling Green, will work directly with the Crusader pitching staff.
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 Manager
Tarah McShane joined the Valparaiso coaching staff as a graduate assistant for the 2017 season.
I'm excited that Tarah has chosen to return to the Valparaiso softball program," said Stake. "It was clearly evident that she's the right person at the right time for this position. She's approachable, knows both our players and our coaches well, and is fiercely loyal and dedicated to the program's success and well-being. I believe very much that Tarah is an integral part of combining and facilitating our goals for this coming season, and she brings a great deal of value to the program as we continue chasing championships and growing our culture."
McShane returns 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).