DES MOINES, Iowa – The Creighton softball team dropped a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) doubleheader at Drake Tuesday evening as the Bluejays fell 5-4 in the opener before a 9-1 setback in game two at the Bulldogs’ Buel Field.
As a result, Creighton (27-16, 13-6 MVC) is now in a tie for first atop the Valley standings with Drake (28-19, 14-7) heading into the final week of conference play. Tonight’s foes lead third-place Illinois State, who was idle Tuesday, by one-half game.
Eight different Bluejays posted hits against Drake on the evening, resulting in a total of 13. Junior Ellen Homan led the CU bats with three hits, including Creighton’s lone extra-base hit - a triple, and four walks. Sophomore Liz Dike added three singles and senior Amy Baker connected on two. Creighton left 14 runners on base in game one, part of 20 Jays stranded on the day.
Junior Becca Changstrom started in the circle for Creighton while the Jays’ batters went up against Mariah McKinnon.
Creighton was the designated home team in game one after the series was rescheduled earlier in April.
The Bulldogs opened the game with a run in the top of the first. Three singles helped Drake push a run across for an early 1-0 edge.
Creighton answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Dike singled and later stole second before Homan reached on a walk. Freshman Blake Ringle reached on a fielder’s choice as Dike scored on a Drake throwing error. Baker singled through the left side to score Homan and give Creighton a 2-1 lead after one. McKinnon was chased from the circle as Rebekah Schmidt took over the pitching duties for Drake.
After a scoreless second frame, Drake regained the lead at 3-2 after a two-out rally. After Changstrom struck out a pair of Bulldogs, Drake notched a single and a home run to left field to move ahead 3-2 in the top of the third.
The Bluejays knotted the game at 3-3 in the bottom half of the inning. Homan walked to begin the inning. Senior Sammy Snygg put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner. Baker later walked before a long single off the wall in right field by junior Alexis Cantu that loaded the bases. Sophomore Bri Lingl then connected on a deep single to left that scored a run to tie the game at 3-3 with one out. On a fly out to center, Baker was thrown out at home to end the inning.
Neither team scored in the fourth but Drake extended its lead in the top of the fifth. A leadoff walk followed by a home run that just went over the wall down the right field line pushed Drake’s lead to 5-3 before Creighton got out of the inning.
Creighton scored a run in the bottom of the sixth. A one-out triple from Homan started things off. Ringle reached on a Drake error in the next at-bat to score the run and cut the DU lead to 5-4.
The Bluejays loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but could not plate a run as DU relief pitcher Jordan Gronewold earned a save by recording three K’s to get out of the jam.
Changstrom recorded eight strikeouts in a complete-game effort but dropped to 20-8 after the loss. Schmidt earned the win to improve to 11-10.
Junior Alexis Cantu started the second game for Creighton while Gronewold got the nod for Drake.
Creighton opened the batting as the visiting team in game two, posting a run in the top of the first. Back-to-back singles to left field from Dike and Homan started the rally. The runners advanced to scoring position on a ground out. Dike later scored on a wild pitch to put the Bluejays up 1-0.
Drake responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. A one-out walk followed by a home run to left field put the Bulldogs out front 2-1 after one.
DU increased its advantage in the bottom of the second frame. A leadoff double followed by two Creighton errors allowed a run to score and make it 3-1. A ground out later scored the Bulldogs’ second run of the inning as Drake moved ahead at 4-1 after two.
The Bulldogs took control of the game in their half of the fourth. A single and CU error put the leadoff batter at second. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third. An infield single scored a run to make it 5-1 DU. Another single through the left side put two on with one out.
Junior Brittany Telecky entered the game for Creighton in relief. Another single to left loaded the bases for Drake. A sacrifice fly to center scored a Bulldog run to produce a 6-1 margin. A home run by Gronewold cleared the bases to yield the final 9-1 score.
Cantu suffered the loss to drop to 6-7 on the year. Gronewold earned a win to improve to 17-8 overall.
Creighton concludes the regular season at home this weekend against Wichita State. The Jays will celebrate their three seniors between games of a Saturday doubleheader slated to begin at noon. The teams will wrap up the series with a single game at noon on Sunday.
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