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Sports Digest: Crusaders softball coach takes leave of absence

Sports Digest: Crusaders softball coach takes leave of absence

College softball

CRUSADERS COACH TAKES LEAVE OF ABSENCE: Valparaiso coach Jordan Stevens requested and was granted a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons last week.

Assistant Director of Athletics for Media Relations Aaron Leavitt confirmed Stevens' absence Saturday after the Crusaders dropped two road games to Green Bay.

The details behind Stevens' absence are unknown, and the school offered no other information.

Stevens is in his fourth year at Valpo and has led the Crusaders to the NCAA tournament in each of the last two years. The Crusaders entered the weekend with a chance to clinch their second Horizon League regular-season championship in the last three years, but Green Bay won the title with Saturday's sweep.

It is unclear if Stevens will return to the team for next weekend's Horizon League tournament. The Crusaders are 12-4 under Stevens in the conference tournament over the last three years. — Paul Oren

Pro soccer

UNBEATEN REAL SALT LAKE KEEPS FIRE WINLESS: Joao Plata scored twice in the final 24 minutes, including the winner in stoppage time, to help Real Salt Lake remain undefeated with a 3-2 victory over the winless Fire on Saturday night.

Alvaro Saborio tied it 1 second into stoppage time for Real Salt Lake (4-0-5). Plata, who cut the Fire's lead in half with a 12-yard shot in the 72nd minute, beat Chicago's Sean Johnson with the winner in the 93rd minute, halfway through stoppage time.

The Fire (0-2-6) scored twice in the first 30 minutes. Mike Magee and Juan Luis Anangono beat Real's Nick Rimando from close range, with Anangono doing so on a pretty header set up by Greg Cochrane.

Pro basketball

OKLAHOMA CITY BEATS GRIZZLIES TO ADVANCE: Kevin Durant scored 33 points; Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies 120-109 on Saturday night in Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Westbrook had 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. His assist total tied the franchise record for a playoff game set in 1987 by Nate McMillan when the team was still in Seattle.

Pro hockey

BRUINS RALLY TO BEAT CANADIENS: Reilly Smith scored the go-ahead goal with 3:32 left, and the Boston Bruins rallied from two down in the third period to beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 on Saturday and tie the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.

Auto racing

SADLER FINALLY WINS ONE AT TALLADEGA: Elliott Sadler won a three-lap shootout to the checkered flag in the Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

The race Saturday was stopped for a little more than nine minutes to clean the track following a six-car accident that began when Jeremy Clement was turning into an outside wall and his car shot back into traffic.

There were three laps remaining on the restart, and Sadler had to throw several blocks to hold off a charge from the pack of traffic behind him.

It was the 10th Nationwide Series victory of Sadler's career, but first since 2012. He went winless last season in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing. It's Sadler's first career win at Talladega.

Chris Buescher finished second and Regan Smith, winner of last year's race, was third.

SCOTT LEADS RCR TO WIN POLE AT TALLADEGA: Brian Scott won the pole for today's race at Talladega Superspeedway, where he posted the fastest lap as time expired in knockout qualifying.

The third and final round Saturday was a five-minute session, and the 12 drivers all waited until just over two minutes remained to head onto the track. Tony Stewart posted the fastest lap and held down the top spot until time expired, when Scott shot to the top of the leaderboard.

Scott turned a lap at 198.290 mph to win the pole for Richard Childress Racing.

RCR teammate Paul Menard was second and was followed by AJ Allmendinger, Casey Mears and Daytona 500 pole-sitter Austin Dillon.

Stewart wound up 12th as the Stewart-Haas Racing strategy didn't pan out for any of its four cars.

Pro golf

HOLMES TAKES ONE-SHOT LEAD AT QUAIL HOLLOW: J.B. Holmes had a 6-under 66 on Saturday for a one-shot lead over Martin Flores, with a big name looming at Quail Hollow. Phil Mickelson put together his best round of the year, a 9-under 63, and was two shots behind.

Around the horn

Stacy Lewis shot a 2-under 69 even while missing several makeable putts to grab a share of the lead with Meena Lee after three rounds at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.


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Sports Copy Editor

Jim is a copy editor for The Times who works out of Valparaiso.He received the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association’s Media Award in 1997. He can be reached at 219-548-4356 or

Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.

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