OMAHA, Neb. – The Creighton softball won multiple awards at the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Softball Championship banquet held Wednesday night including Pitcher of the Year honors for junior Becca Changstrom and Coaching Staff of the Year accolades. Four Bluejays also claimed All-MVC recognition.
After guiding the Jays to a regular-season Valley crown and 29-17 overall record, CU head coach Brent Vigness garnered his fourth MVC Coach of the Year honor. He has led the Bluejays to seven MVC regular-season titles (1998-2000, 2007-09, 2013), six Valley tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010) and seven NCAA regional appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010) during his 20 years in the dugout.
Previously, Vigness claimed MVC Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and guided the MVC Coaching Staffs of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2013. It marks the third staff honor for assistant coach Abby Johnson and the first coaching laurel for assistant Renae Sinkler – both former MVC Player of the Year winners at Creighton.
Changstrom’s MVC Pitcher of the Year honor is the first for the right-handed hurler. She joins former Creighton aces Tara Oltman and Tammy Nielsen who previously claimed the award.
The Lincoln, Neb., native also earned a spot on the All-MVC First Team. It marked her third year-end award from the conference after being named to the All-MVC Second Team in each of her first two seasons.
Changstrom won the pitching triple crown in MVC play in 2013 with 13 wins, 133 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA. She posted 10 strikeouts or more on 12 different occasions this season. Changstrom ended the regular season leading the Valley in overall games for ERA (1.72), strikeouts (247), opposing batting average (.193) and wins (22). This year she joined Oltman and Nielsen as just the third Bluejay pitcher to record 200 K’s in a single season. Changstrom’s average of 8.9 strikeouts per 7 innings stands at No. 22 in the NCAA while her strikeout total of 247 ranks No. 18 nationally.
After a record-setting year on offense, senior Amy Baker also earned recognition on the All-MVC First Team. It marked her third time on the top squad in the Valley and fourth end-of-the-year conference honor.
Baker became the career leader in the MVC and Creighton record books with 58 home runs and 167 RBI. A four-time All-MVC Selection, she ranks among the top 10 at CU all-time in batting average, hits, total bases and walks. Baker ended the season leading the Valley in slugging percentage at .799 as well as home runs with 17. She reached base in 37 consecutive games, the most by any Bluejay dating back to 1999. In the latest national rankings compiled by the NCAA she ranks No. 13 in the country for home runs per game (0.37) while her season home run total of 17 is tied for No. 20 in the country.
Creighton junior Blair Lowe also attained an All-MVC First Team selection. It marked her second year-end honor from the Valley after claiming second team recognition last season.
Lowe ended the year tied for fourth in the MVC with eight sacrifice bunts. She is first on the team with eight doubles. Lowe ranks third on the squad with a batting average of .313, 25 runs scored, 41 hits, 16 walks, a .392 on-base percentage, 12 multiple-hit games and five multi-RBI contests. She ranks No. 7 in the MVC with a .364 average with runners on base. Lowe hit two home runs at Indiana State April 13-14 after coming into weekend with one career homer. She posted a .636 average at the plate on 7-of-11 hitting at ISU that also included two doubles.
Sophomore shortstop Liz Dike took home All-MVC Second Team honors it marked her first end-of-the year award from the Valley.
Dike claimed first career MVC Player of the Week honor on May 6. She saw her career-high hitting streak of 11 halted in the final game of the regular season, but not before hitting a pair of homers in the final weekend versus Wichita State to help the Jays secure the MVC regular-season title. Her inside-the-park home run provided the one-run margin for CU in game one. Dike’s second homer of the weekend in game two tied it at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh to spark a CU comeback to clinch the crown. She leads the squad with a .393 batting average, 33 hits, 17 runs, three triples, 54 total bases, four stolen bases along with 34 assists in conference games and has started every league contest at shortstop this year.
Creighton hosts the 2013 MVC Softball Championship beginning Thursday at 11 a.m. at the CU Sports Complex. The Bluejays earned a bye into the semifinals and will play their first opponent at noon Friday.
SB: Providence at Creighton (5/3/14)
SB: DePaul at Creighton (4/18/14)
Creighton meets Villanova in a 16 inning thriller on the softball diamond.