NEW YORK (Feb. 5) - The Creighton softball team was picked to finish second overall in its inaugural BIG EAST season, the league office announced Wednesday afternoon.
Creighton received two first-place votes and collected 44 points, just behind DePaul who amassed 48 points and accounted for the remaining six first-place votes.
While none of the eight conference teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, DePaul finished with the best record of returning squads at 32-21 overall and 16-6 in the BIG EAST to claim a fourth-place league finish a year ago. The Blue Demons have appeared in 17 of the last 19 NCAA Tournaments.
The Bluejays won the 2013 MVC regular season title and finished with a 29-18 record overall and a 15-7 mark in conference. The second-place prediction is the highest preseason ranking for Creighton since 2010 when they were picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bluejays were picked fourth last preseason.
Georgetown and Providence each garnered 30 points in the poll to tie for third. Both teams made the BIG EAST tournament last year as the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds, respectively.
St. John’s claimed 27 points to come in fifth after a 12th-place finish in the conference last year. Seton Hall, a BIG EAST tournament team last season, collected 23 points to be slotted in sixth place.
Rounding out the poll is Villanova in seventh place with 12 points and Butler with 10 points after spending last year in the Atlantic-10. Marquette and Xavier do not sponsor softball.
The Bluejays return 14 players from last season's team that compiled a 29-18 overall record and finished first in the MVC at 15-7 to claim the regular season title. Senior Becca Changstrom leads the Jays in the circle this year after claiming MVC Pitcher of the Year honors last season. At the plate CU returns three 2013 All-MVC selections including seniors Ellen Homan, Blair Lowe and junior Liz Dike.
Creighton opens the 2014 campaign at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., this weekend. CU's first home game is March 19 against Wichita State. The Jays begin BIG EAST competition a few days later at Butler March 22-23.