This Week: The Creighton softball team concludes a nine-game home stand against South Dakota State on Tuesday. The Bluejays host the Jackrabbits for a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. CT that will also serve as Creighton’s StrikeOut Cancer Pink Games this season to promote cancer awareness.
The Bluejays are perched atop the Valley standings at 7-2 after taking two out of three games from Bradley at home last weekend. Creighton (21-11) is in the midst of a nine-game home stand and boasts a 5-2 record through seven games of the 11-day stretch.
South Dakota State (11-21) enters the doubleheader on a three-game losing streak after falling in three straight at rival South Dakota last weekend. The Jackrabbits have won only three of their last nine games and are just 2-14 in true road contests this season.
After claiming the MVC career home run record outright last weekend, Creighton senior Amy Baker is chasing the Valley RBI record. With 156 career RBI, Baker can match the record with her next run batted in.
Following the Jays: Live stats links for the game can be found on the softball schedule page of GoCreighton.com. Fans can also keep in touch with Creighton softball on Twitter - @BluejaySoftball and Facebook - www.facebook.com/CreightonSoftball.
Last Time Out: Creighton took two out of three games from Bradley last weekend. As a result, Creighton maintained its lead atop the Valley standing by one-half game over Drake as Bradley dropped to third.
Each game of the series was decided by just one run. Bradley won the opener 3-2 before the Bluejays came from behind to take game two of a doubleheader 6-5 in eight innings on April 6. CU jumped out to a 3-0 lead April 7 before BU scored two in its final at-bat for a 3-2 Jays’ win.
Creighton's series win against Bradley marked the third straight series victory for the Bluejays to begin the 2013 MVC season. As a result, CU leads the Valley standings at 7-2. The last time CU claimed three straight series to begin the season was in 2011 when the Jays started at 6-3.
Senior Amy Baker's pair of home runs against Bradley last weekend increased her career total to 54 homers to claim the MVC career home run record outright. With 156 career runs batted in, Baker needs just one RBI this week to tie the Valley career RBI record of 157.
Day one of the series ended in dramatic fashion. Junior Ellen Homan connected on a three-run home run just over the right field wall to tie game two at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning. It marked Homan’s first home run of the season and third of her career.
In her first at-bat of the season, junior right-handed pitcher Becca Changstrom capped the come-from-behind victory with a walk-off double to right center in the bottom of the eighth inning of game two to give the Jays a 6-5 victory over BU.
Scouting Creighton (21-11): After taking two out of three from Bradley last weekend, Creighton has won eight of its last 11 games dating back to March 12. The Bluejays are 5-2 at home this year, seven games into a nine-game home stand that concludes Tuesday against SDSU.
CU has won each of its first three MVC series resulting in a 7-2 record for first place in the MVC and a 21-11 record overall.
Senior Amy Baker led the Creighton offense last week by hitting .444 in four starts while claiming the MVC career home run record outright with a pair of solo homers against Bradley. With the two RBI, she moved to within one of tying the MVC career runs batted in record. Baker boasts 156 career RBI, one shy of the conference record of 157. She finished the weekend with a 1.111 slugging percentage and a .667 on-base percentage.
With four hits, including two home runs, and six walks senior Baker extended her reached base streak to 30 consecutive contests last week. The senior has reached base in every game since facing San Diego State on opening day Feb. 7. Baker has posted a hit in 24 games this year. In each of the seven contests since Feb. 7 when she has gone without a hit, Baker has drawn a walk for the Bluejays.
Sophomore Liz Dike boasts seven hits over the last five contests including a 4-for-4 effort in the finale against UNI March 30.
Four Bluejays have reached base in all seven home games this season. Besides Baker’s 30-contest streak, junior Blair Lowe has reached safely in the last eight contests. Sophomore Bri Lingl and junior Alexis Cantu have reached base in consecutive streaks of seven and six games, respectively.
Three Creighton players have started all 32 games and are hitting .299 or better in 2013 including Baker (.411), Dike (.303) and Lowe (.299). Creighton ranks sixth in the Valley with a .255 batting average. The Jays’ 32 home runs lead the MVC.
In the circle, CU junior pitchers Becca Changstrom and Alexis Cantu rank 1-2 atop the Valley ERA standings. Changstrom leads the MVC with a 1.52 ERA while Cantu boasts a 1.94 ERA. As a staff, the Jays lead the conference with a 2.06 ERA and 221 strikeouts.
Changstrom leads the Valley in ERA (1.52), strikeouts (166), opposing batting average (.196) and wins (15).
Scouting South Dakota State (11-21): South Dakota State enters the doubleheader on a three-game losing streak after falling in three straight at rival South Dakota last weekend.
Last weekend at South Dakota, the Jackrabbits fell in a pair of one-run games to USD. In the series opener on April 5, the host Coyotes edged SDSU 7-6. In the nightcap the teams combined for 31 runs but South Dakota edged SDSU again 16-15. In the series finale of April 6, South Dakota State fell 7-1 to its rival.
The Jackrabbits have won only three of their last nine games and are just 2-14 in true road contests this season. SDSU is 1-8 in Summit League play this season.
The only common opponent that SDSU and CU share is North Dakota. The Jackrabbits are 2-2 against UND this season. The Jays defeated North Dakota 9-0 in five innings behind a one-hitter from Alexis Cantu on March 9 at the Rebel Spring Games.
At the plate SDSU is hitting .264 as a team. Four of the Jackrabbits’ starters are hitting .300 or better at the plate in 2013 including Devon Reick (.356), Alex Landon (.355), Elyse Eitel (.307) and Sammy Bingham (.306).
In the circle, Kori Seidlitz leads SDSU with 16 starts. She carries a 4.84 ERA with a 5-12 record in 20 appearances. Through 110 innings of work she has registered 86 strikeouts. In 19 appearances this year, Jennifer Sutton owns a 4.69 ERA with a 4-7 mark and 36 K’s this season.
Head Coach: The winningest coach in Creighton athletics history, Brent Vigness is in his 20th season at the helm of one of the most successful programs in the Midwest and Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). He carries a 627-439-3 record in 19-plus seasons at Creighton and boasts a 775-510-4 overall record that includes five years at Assumption College prior to beginning at CU.
A three-time MVC Coach of the Year, he has led the Bluejays to six MVC regular-season titles (1998-2000, 2007-09), six Valley tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010) and seven NCAA regional appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010). He claimed MVC Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and guided the MVC Coaching Staffs of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Vigness coached his 1,000th game at Creighton and recorded his 600th win at CU in 2012.
Creighton-SDSU Series: The Bluejays lead the all-time series with the Jackrabbits 8-3-1.
Creighton and SDSU went 1-1-1 against each other last season. CU won 8-1 on Feb. 17 at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Classic in Denton, Texas.
Later in the season the Jays visited SDSU for a doubleheader on April 3. SDSU won the first game 1-0 in eight innings in Brookings.
After a late start, game two was tied at 1-1 in the ninth inning before the teams agreed to end the game in a tie due to darkness.
Creighton against Current NFCA Top-25 Squads: The Bluejays are 2-2 this season against teams currently ranked in the latest USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll released April 2.
This week’s No. 3 Florida squad defeated Creighton 13-3 on February 8 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Later that same day the Bluejays toppled Oregon State, this week’s No. 24 squad, 5-3.
Creighton also owns a 4-3 win in eight innings over this week’s No. 20 team, Tulsa, at the UTA Maverick Invitational on March 2.
On Wednesday night, No. 22 Nebraska escaped with a 4-3 victory over the Bluejays at the CU Sports Complex.
Bluejays’ NCAA Rankings this Week: Creighton ranks No. 35 in the country at 1.00 home runs per game in the latest NCAA weekly statistical rankings released March 31.
The Bluejays stand at No. 34 nationally with an earned run average of 2.00. With 1.39 doubles per game, the team stands at No. 51 in the country. The Jays’ slugging percentage of .434 ranks No. 78 in the NCAA.
Individually, senior Amy Baker ranks among the nation’s top 20 in two categories. She ranks No. 12 in the country with a .901 slugging percentage this season and stands No. 17 nationally with a 0.39 home runs per game average.
Baker’s home run total of 11 is tied for No. 31 in the country this week.
Becca Changstrom’s five shutout victories this season ties for No. 17 nationally. The junior’s average of 8.9 strikeouts per seven innings stands at No. 25 in the NCAA rankings this week. With a 1.39 ERA, Changstrom rates No. 26 in the country.
Baker Writes Recipe for Record-Setting Success in 2013: Senior Amy Baker’s pair of homers last weekend helped the Omaha native claim the Missouri Valley Conference home run record outright with a total of 54.
Last month Baker belted career home run No. 52 to spark a come-from-behind victory at Evansville and tie the MVC career home run record held by Abby Olson of Illinois State since 2011.
MVC Career Home Runs
T1. 54 Amy Baker, CU (2010-pres.)
T1. 52 Abby Olson, ILS (2008-2011)
3. 50 Renae Sinkler, CU (2007-10)
4. 47 Amber Smith, ILS (2006-09)
Baker’s total of 13 homers this year already equals the sixth-best mark in program history for a single season.
Her career RBI total is now just one shy of the all-time MVC record of 157 held by Illinois State’s Heather Stella that has stood for over 13 seasons. Another Redbird is also trying to secure the record; Illinois State senior Elizabeth Kay trails Baker by one at 155.
MVC Career RBI
1. 157 Heather Stella, ILS (1996-99)
2. 156 Amy Baker, CU (2010-pres.)
3. 155 Elizabeth Kay, ILS (2010-pres.)
4. 150 Amber Smith, ILS (2006-09)
5. 146 Renae Sinkler, CU (2007-10)
6. 145 Jessica Huff, UE (1998-01)
7. 144 Abby Johnson, CU (2002-05)
In 2013, Baker has already set Creighton career marks in home runs (54) and runs batted in (156).
Baker Climbs to the Top of CU Career Record Books: Last month senior Amy Baker claimed the top spot in the all-time Creighton record books for home runs and runs batted in.
The senior’s career total of 54 homers surpassed the previous top mark of 50, set by current assistant coach Renae Sinkler in 2010. Baker has also set the Missouri Valley Conference mark.
With 156 career runs batted in, Baker recently moved past both of her assistant coaches in the rankings Abby Johnson (144) and Sinkler (146) to claim the top spot.
Baker is also among the Creighton career top 10 for batting average, total bases and walks. The Omaha native’s .411 batting average this season would currently rank fifth all-time for a single-season mark in program history.
Baker leads the Valley in home runs (13), total bases (83) and slugging percentage (.922).
Give the Bluejays a Lead and You May Not Get it Back: Creighton is undefeated this season when leading after the third (10-0), fourth (13-0), and sixth (12-0) innings.
The Bluejays also have impressive records with an advantage at the beginning of the game. CU is 8-1 when leading after the first frame and 10-1 when up after two innings. The Jays are 11-1 when leading after five innings.
Creighton's Magic Numbers:
· Creighton is undefeated at 16-0 this season when allowing opponents fewer than three runs.
· The Bluejays are also 16-0 when scoring four or more runs on offense in 2013.
· CU is 17-3 when scoring first this season.
· Creighton is 17-1 when posting more hits than its foes this year.
Walk It Off in Grand Style: Amy Baker’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning against Youngstown State on March 12 secured a 6-2 win and marked the 16th time a CU player hit a walk-off blast since 2001.
The slam also marked the third straight season with a walk-off home run. In 2012
Alexis Cantu’s three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth inning vs. Missouri State on May 6 beat the Bears, 5-4.
Cantu’s first career walk-off homer was the first by any Bluejay since Sammy Snygg posted one against Bradley on April 2, 2011.
Stacey Rybar is the last Bluejay with two walk-off homers in the same season (2002), and also the last Bluejay with a walk-off homer in the MVC Tournament (May 10, 2002 vs. UNI).
Here’s a list of Creighton’s walk-off home runs since 1999:
Inn. Player vs. Opponent Date
8 Amy Baker vs. Youngstown State 3/12/13
8 Alexis Cantu vs. Missouri State 5/6/12
8 Sammy Snygg vs. Bradley 4/2/11
10 Michelle Graner vs. Wichita State 5/3/09
7 Laura Kratochvil vs. Illinois State 3/21/09
6* Sara Loeffelholz vs. Saint Joseph’s 3/6/09
10 TJ Eadus vs. Northern Iowa 3/29/08
7 Bailey Dawson vs. Texas State 2/9/08
6* Michelle Graner vs. South Dakota State 3/22/07
9 Jessica Merkel vs. Nebraska 4/14/05
6* Lauren Flores vs. Bradley 4/9/05
7# Abby Johnson at Missouri State 3/15/03
7 Stacey Rybar vs. Northern Iowa 5/10/02
8# Stacey Rybar at Bradley 5/4/02
5* Nicole Garber vs. Drake 4/23/02
10 Kari Shank vs. Northern Iowa 4/8/01
*walk-off due to run-rule;
#CU hit as home team in away game
Homer Cooking: After not hitting a home run in the first two games of 2013, Creighton jacked at least one ball over the fence in 10 consecutive contests before the streak was halted at UT Arlington for three games.
Creighton has drilled a home run in 14 of its last 17 contests, including four multi-homer games. Amy Baker blasted two solo homers against Bradley last weekend while junior Ellen Homan rocketed a three-run shot over the right field wall for her first round tripper of the season.
Freshman Kelsey Allender’s first career grand slam highlighted the series versus UNI on March 29. The slam was the Jays’ second of the year following Amy Baker’s walk-off grand slam against Youngstown State on March 12.
As a result, CU leads the Valley with 32 homers this season. The Bluejays rank No. 35 nationally with 1.08 home runs per game in the latest NCAA statistical rankings released March 31.
Six Bluejays have hit multiple home runs this season led by Amy Baker’s league-leading total of 13. Joining Baker with more than one homer in 2013 is sophomore Bri Lingl (6), freshman Blake Ringle (4), Cantu (3) sophomore Liz Dike (2) and Allender (2).
Allender hit her first career home run of an inside-the-park variety against Grambling State Feb. 24. Allender’s inside-the-park home run is the first since Dike scored two of them last season, the last against Wichita State on April 7, 2012.
Senior Sammy Snygg also rifled a shot over the wall versus then-No. 14 Florida in Creighton’s opening weekend.
Marching into Spring: Creighton finished the month of March with a 14-5 record this year. The Jays closed out the month on a four-game win streak and opened its home season with a three-game sweep of Northern Iowa to take over first place in the Valley.
Last season the Bluejays were finished 9-10 in the third month of 2012.
Changstrom Named MVC-Scholar Athlete: For the third time this season, Creighton softball junior Becca Changstrom claimed Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Scholar-Athlete of the Week honors after registering two complete-game wins against Northern Iowa two weeks ago.
This week’s award marks Changstrom’s third career MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week accolade. She previously claimed the honor on March 6 after the UTA Maverick Invitational and on March 20 after the Rebel Spring Games and MVC opening weekend.
The right-handed hurler is also a three-time recipient of MVC Pitcher of the Week honors this season.
Last weekend Changstrom remained undefeated in MVC starts at 4-0 and improved to 13 victories overall this season following two complete-game wins against UNI at the CU Sports Complex.
The Lincoln, Neb., native gave up just three earned runs on nine hits through 14 innings in the circle against the Panthers resulting in a 1.50 ERA. In addition, Changstrom notched her seventh double-digit strikeout performance this season in Friday’s opener with 11 K’s. She added five more strikeouts in the finale to total 16 on the weekend.
A chemistry major, Changstrom currently carries a 3.846 GPA.
Nebraska Rivalry Part One: Down 4-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Creighton softball team rallied to load the bases and put pressure on visiting No. 22 Nebraska but the Cornhuskers got out of the jam to escape with the one-run victory at the CU Sports Complex Wednesday evening.
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for Creighton (19-10) as Nebraska (26-7) dealt the Bluejays their first defeat at home this year.
Creighton jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Senior Amy Baker drew a two-out walk before junior Alexis Cantu drilled a two-run homer over the left field wall to put the Bluejays up two after one inning.
Nebraska quickly answered in the top of the second inning with back-to-back solo home runs then took the lead for good in the fifth before adding an insurance run in the seventh.
Following a leadoff walk, a double from CU sophomore Bri Lingl down the right field line put runners in scoring position with no outs. A one-out RBI single from junior Blair Lowe scored a run to cut the Husker lead to 4-3 with runners on the corners. Freshman Kelsey Allender drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases with one out on the scoreboard.
But the Huskers handled the pressure to strike out the final two Bluejay batters and escape with a 4-3 victory.
Northern Iowa Series Recap: Creighton swept a three-game series from Northern Iowa March 29-30 at the CU Sports Complex. The Bluejays swept a Friday doubleheader by scores of 4-1 and 11-1, with the second game shortened to five innings. CU clinched the Saturday finale 4-2.
Sophomore Liz Dike led the Bluejay offense last weekend with five hits versus Northern Iowa. Including a 4-for-4 effort in the finale. She recorded a triple, double and pair of singles. Freshman Kelsey Allender hit the first home run at the CU Sports Complex of 2013, and her second career homer with a grand slam in game two.
Junior Becca Changstrom remained undefeated in MVC starts at 4-0 and improved to 13-4 overall this season after registering two complete-game wins. She gave up just three earned runs on nine hits through 14 innings in the circle resulting in a 1.50 ERA. Changstrom notched her seventh double-digit strikeout performance in the opener with 11 K's.
Evansville Series Recap: Creighton senior Amy Baker capped off a record-setting week by blasting career home run No. 52 to spark a come-from-behind victory at Evansville March 16 and tie the MVC career home run record.
CU junior Becca Changstrom matched her career high of 13 K's on Friday night in a conference-opening win at Evansville. She struck out 10 Purple Aces in the series finale a day later.
The Bluejays opened the MVC season at 2-1 on the road for the third consecutive season. Creighton also went 2-1 at Evansville to begin the 2011 conference slate before the Jays earned a 2-1 split at Bradley last season.
Rebel Spring Games Recap: The Bluejays went 6-2 at the 2013 Rebel Spring Games March 9-13. The wins increased Creighton’s all-time record at the tourney to 49-9 (.845) in six appearances at the Florida tourney all under current head coach Brent Vigness.
The Bluejays shut out five opponents (Saint Francis (PA), North Dakota, Butler, Fairleigh Dickinson and Army) over the four-day span. The exception was a 6-2 victory over Youngstown State in eight innings after a walk-off grand slam from senior Amy Baker.
One CU loss was a no-hit 5-0 defeat at the hands of Eastern Illinois on March 10. Three days later Creighton dropped a 3-1 decision to Robert Morris.
UTA Maverick Invitational Recap: The Bluejays went 3-2 at the UTA Maverick Invitational in Arlington, Texas, to improve to 8-6 this season. After a pair of wins over host UTA and Lamar on March 1, CU upset then No. 21 Tulsa 4-3 in extra innings on March 2 for its first win over a ranked team since February 2010.
The Bluejays' bats struggled in the final two games of the tourney resulting in losses to Lamar and the host Mavericks. The losses snapped a five-game win streak for the Jays.
Fantastic February Finishes: Creighton finished the month of February with a 5-4 record. It marks the seventh straight season that head coach Brent Vigness has directed the Bluejays to a winning record in the first month of the season.
The Bluejays are 46-24 in February spanning those seven seasons to the beginning of 2007. CU’s 5-4 mark this season is the same record the Jays had in 2010 – the year of the program’s last NCAA Tournament appearance.
Central Arkansas Tournament Recap: The Bluejays went 3-1 at the Central Arkansas Tournament in Conway, Ark., to improve to 5-4 this season. CU’s only loss was to host UCA in its first true road game this season. Creighton outscored opponents 35-16 last weekend. The Bluejays hit .353 as a team over the four games while holding opponents to a .271 average.
The Bluejays are 8-1 all-time at tournaments hosted by Central Arkansas. Creighton went undefeated in five games at the UCA Spring Clash to open the 2007 campaign. The Jays are now 2-1 all-time against UCA with two wins in the 2007 tourney.
Kajikawa Classic Recap: Creighton opened 2013 at the Kajikawa Classic Feb. 7-9 with wins over New Mexico and Oregon State, leading to a 2-3 record. The Bluejays are 5-6 all-time at the Kajikawa Classic following a 3-3 ledger at Tempe in 2010.
Déjà Vu vs. OSU: Creighton’s win over Oregon State on Feb. 8, marked the Jays’ second-straight victory over the Beavers by the same score (5-3) in the same tournament (Kajikawa Classic) at the same location (Tempe, Ariz.), three years apart. CU is now 2-2 against the Pac-12 foe and head coach Brent Vigness is 2-1 versus OSU.
Telecky on Top against Oregon State: Brittany Telecky won her first start of the season in a 5-3 victory over Oregon State. The junior pitched 6 innings against OSU allowing just three runs on eight hits. She also came in as a relief pitcher against San Diego State for two innings, allowing no hits or runs and just one walk.
Season-Opening Salvo: The Bluejays’ season-opening win over New Mexico was Creighton’s third-straight victory to begin a season following opening-day wins in 2011 and 2012.
CU’s first-game win streak matches the longest in program history when the Jays previously won three consecutive openers from 2006-08 and 1998-2000. All three streaks were under the direction of current head coach Brent Vigness.
Creighton is 19-18 overall in season-opening contests including an 11-9 record under head coach Brent Vigness.
Preseason Predictions: The Creighton softball team placed four players on the 2013 preseason all-conference team as the league's coaches picked the Bluejays to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), the league office announced Jan. 23.
The fourth-place prediction is the highest preseason ranking for the Bluejays since 2010 when they were picked to win the Valley. Creighton has finished lower than fourth in the MVC regular season standings just three times in the past 16 seasons.
Senior catcher Amy Baker earned the second All-MVC preseason selection of her career to go with a nod from 2011 during her sophomore campaign. Additionally, three juniors claimed their first preseason honors in designated player and pitcher Alexis Cantu, pitcher Becca Changstrom and outfielder Ellen Homan. All four of the CU honorees earned All-MVC accolades after last season.
The four CU player selections match Southern Illinois for the most on the 2013 preseason squad. Additionally, the four players on the preseason all-conference team are the most for any Creighton squad dating back to 2004 when three Jays earned All-MVC preseason honors and current assistant Abby Johnson collected honorable mention recognition.
Recapping 2012: The Bluejays return 11 players from last season's team that compiled a 28-25-1 overall record and finished fifth in the MVC at 15-11. Creighton finished last season with a school-record 294 runs. CU led the MVC with a .292 batting average, 56 homers, 275 RBI and a .464 slugging percentage. The Jays ranked in the NCAA top-30 in scoring (No. 20), home runs per game (No. 22) and slugging percentage (No. 27) in 2012.