SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Creighton softball team split a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) doubleheader against Missouri State Sunday afternoon as the Bluejays won the opener 3-1 before falling 10-5 in game two at the Bears’ Killian Stadium.
Creighton (27-14, 13-4 MVC) maintained its first-place standing in the Valley heading into the final week of conference play. The Bluejays lead second-place Illinois State by 1.5 games and third-place Drake by two. The Jays visit the Bulldogs for a doubleheader on Tuesday in Des Moines.
Missouri State (19-27, 10-11 MVC) and the Bluejays each posted 13 hits but the Bears plated 11 runs to just eight for CU. The Creighton pitching staff only allowed three earned runs on the day but seven Bluejay errors came back to haunt CU - including six miscues in game two alone.
Freshman Blake Ringle led the Bluejays at the plate with three hits and a trio of RBI in six at-bats including a home run to give Creighton an early lead in game two. Sophomore Liz Dike posted three hits and scored a pair of runs.
Junior Becca Changstrom started in the circle for Creighton while the Jays’ batters went up against Chelsea Jones.
Missouri State opened the scoring in the bottom of the first frame. After a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt, a CU throwing error with two outs allowed a run to score to give the Bears an early 1-0 edge.
Neither team scored over the next four innings until Creighton knotted the game in the top of the sixth. An MSU error allowed Dike to reach first base with one out. She later stole second before Ringle ripped an RBI single up the middle to score the run from second and tie the game at 1-1.
MSU threatened in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs, but junior Ellen Homan made a spectacular running and tumbling grab in shallow left field to close out the inning and keep the score tied.
Creighton took its first lead of the game in the top of the seventh. Sophomore Bri Lingl was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Freshman Erin McGonigal came into the game as a pinch runner. Junior Blair Lowe utilized a bunt single to put two on with no outs. A sacrifice bunt from Homan moved up both runners to scoring position.
Freshman Kelsey Allender reached on a fielder’s choice as MSU could not make a play at the plate to stop the run from scoring. Allender’s RBI put Creighton in front for good at 2-1. Senior Ashley Frutos followed with a fielder’s choice of her own to score another run as Lowe scored ahead of the Bears’ play at the plate to make it 3-1 Bluejays.
CU retired the Bears in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory.
Changstrom earned the complete-game win to improve 20-7 with nine strikeouts and without yielding an earned run. Noteworthy, Changstrom passed MSU head coach - and former Bluejay hurler - Holly Hesse on the CU all-time career wins list with the victory over the Bears. MSU’s starter Jones fell to 11-18 on the year after the loss.
Junior Alexis Cantu started the second game for Creighton while Rachel Brisker got the nod for Missouri State. Neither starter would make it past three innings as game two became a high-scoring affair early on. Both teams scored in each of the first three innings resulting in 11 total runs heading into the fourth frame.
Creighton got on the board first. Dike notched a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt by Lowe moved her to second. With two outs on the board Ringle stepped into the batter’s box and belted her seventh homer of the season over the left field wall to give Creighton an early 2-0 edge.
Three Bluejay errors in the bottom of the first helped Missouri State get right back into the contest. A one-out single, an error and a fielder’s choice scored an unearned run. Another error loaded the bases for MSU with one down. A two-RBI single to center scored a pair of runs before CU could get out of the inning.
Down 3-2, the Jays tied it again in the top of the second. Back-to-back singles by Homan and Allender started the rally with one out. Freshman Kim Jacobson drew a walk to load the bases. That sent Brisker to the dugout as Jones returned to the circle for MSU after one inning of rest.
A single from Dike scored Homan from third to make it 3-3. But two CU fly outs left helped Jones and MSU out of a bases-loaded jam to close out the inning.
Missouri State moved ahead in the bottom of the frame. The Bears recorded two singles in three at-bats to open the inning to put runners on the corners with one out. A fielder’s choice on a sacrifice bunt forced a squeeze play at the plate as MSU plated its fourth run of the game.
Creighton tied the game again in the top of the third frame. Ringle led off the inning with a single to left field. Cantu was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. A sacrifice bunt by Lingl moved the runners up. A groundout from Homan allowed a run to score to knot the contest at 4-4 heading to the bottom of the inning.
MSU broke the tie again with three runs in the bottom of the third. A leadoff single and sacrifice bunt put a runner in scoring position. An infield single put runners on the corners with no outs. A pinch-hit single scored two runs to put MSU up 6-4 and chase Cantu out of the game.
The MSU bats kept rolling with another infield single as a CU error allowed a third run to score to give MSU a 7-4 advantage after three.
After a scoreless fourth, Creighton got one run back in the top of the fifth. Senior Amy Baker led off the inning with a single up the middle. McGonigal came into the game as a pinch runner, moving to third after a pair of ground outs. An infield single from Lingl scored the Jays’ final run of the contest to cut the Bears’ lead to 7-5.
MSU added three runs in the bottom of the fifth. A CU error and an MSU single put two on with one out. After a second out, a walk loaded the bases. A hit-by-pitch plated a run for Missouri State, leaving the bases loaded with two down. Another Creighton error allowed two more runs to score to yield the final result of 10-5.
Cantu suffered the loss to drop to 6-6 on the year. Jones earned a win to even her record on the day and improve to 12-18 overall.
Creighton completes its regular-season road schedule at Drake on Tuesday with a doubleheader slated for 4 p.m. CT in Des Moines.
VB: Villanova at Creighton (11/21/14)
MBB: Creighton vs. Oklahoma Highlights (11/19/14)
MBB Chicago State at Creighton Highlights (11/16/14)