Softball Set for Final Road Games of the Regular-Season

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The Bluejays are 12-2 in their last 14 games in Terre Haute.
Courtesy: Eric Francis
Creighton at Indiana State
Saturday, April 30 • Terre Haute, Ind. • 11 am (CST) Doubleheader
Sunday, May 1 • Terre Haute, Ind. • 11 am (CST)

This Week:  Creighton plays four MVC road games to conclude its road portion of the Valley schedule this week.  The Bluejays started the week with a 2-1 win at Drake on Wednesday, as Becca Changstrom struck out 10 and drove in a run in the win.  The Bluejays now travel to Indiana State for their final road games of the regular-season.  The Jays and Sycamores play a doubleheader at 11 am (CST) on Saturday and conclude the three-game MVC series with an 11 am (CST) game on Sunday.

Follow the Bluejays: Fans can follow live stats provided by Indiana State at this link all weekend.  Indiana State will also provide live audio for the three-game series at this link.

Last Week:  Creighton was swept in a home doubleheader against Drake, getting shutout at home for the first time in two years, losing 5-0 and 5-3 to the league leaders last Wednesday.  The Jays then snapped a six-game losing streak with a pair of wins at UNI last weekend. CU topped UNI 3-0 and 4-3 to open the series, before losing the final game of the weekend, 7-2.

Scouting Creighton (21-24, 9-9 MVC): Creighton has appeared in six of the last eight NCAA Tournaments and is the reigning Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champion ... The Bluejays return just three starters from last year’s 37-23 team, while they have 11 freshmen and nine returners on the roster ... The Jays have won three of their last four MVC games after losing five straight in conference ... Creighton picked up its seventh one-run win of the season on Wednesday, as its 2-1 win at Drake was just its third win when scoring two or fewer runs this spring ... Creighton is 7-3 in MVC road games this year, compared to 2-6 at home in Valley play ... The Jays have hit 35 home runs this year, but only two in their last 10 games ...CU ranks second in the MVC with a .963 fielding percentage ... Catcher Amy Baker hit 14 of her league-leading 15 home runs in a 17-game span from March 11 through April 12, but has not had an extra-base hit in CU’s last 10 games ... Baker already ranks fourth in school history with 30 career home runs ... Junior Christa Ruf leads the team with 30 RBI and is second on the squad with nine home runs – she entered the season with one home run and 14 RBI in 86 career games ... Freshmen Ellen Homan leads the team with 45 hits, 14 multi-hit games, 24 runs scored and a .321 average ... Freshman Becca Changstrom has emerged as the staff ace, leading the MVC with an opponents average of just .169, while she tops the team with a 15-8 record, 143.2 innings pitched and 139 strikeouts.

Scouting Indiana State (14-28, 3-16 MVC): The Sycamores enter the weekend on a nine-game losing streak, picking up their last win in a doubleheader sweep of IUPUI on April 13 ... ISU has also lost nine straight MVC games, dating back to a 5-1 win against Evansville on April 9 ... Two of ISU’s three MVC wins came at Wichita State - a team which swept the Jays ... ISU has allowed 10 or more runs four times in its last eight games, while it has lost six games when scoring at least five runs this year ... The Sycamores lead the MVC with 50 sacrifice bunts ... Bailey Wittenauer leads the team with a .349 average, 45 hits, 10 doubles, seven home runs and 37 RBI ... She is hitting .421 with 24 hits and 21 RBI in 19 MVC games ... ISU is hitting .255 on the year, but .242 in MVC play ... ISU ranks last in MVC play with a 6.79 ERA and a .367 average against ... Kristen Felker (8-10, 3.99 ERA) leads the team in innings (112.1) and strikeouts (86), Lindsey Beisser (3-4, 2.13 ERA) tops the team in ERA, but has thrown only 49.1 innings ... Sara Evans (3-7, 5.50 ERA, 70 IP, 45 K) and Chelsea Wallace (0-7, 7.33 ERA, 43 IP, 12 K) also pitch for ISU.

Head Coach: Head coach Brent Vigness (Central College, 1988) is in his 18th season at Creighton.  With a record of 574-399-2 at Creighton, he is the winningest coach in Bluejay athletics history.  Vigness also served as head coach at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., for five years prior to coming to Creighton.  His career record in 23 years as a head coach is 722-470-3.  The most tenured softball coach in school history has led the Jays to six MVC Tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010), six regular-season MVC crowns (1998-2000, 2007-09), seven NCAA Tournament appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010) and was named MVC Coach of the Year in 1998 and guided the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

CU-ISU Series: Creighton leads the all-time series with Indiana State, 41-7 ... The Bluejays have won nine of the last 11 meetings with the Sycamores, including a doubleheader sweep last year Omaha in the only two games played in the series ... Creighton is 12-2 in its last 14 games played in Terre Haute ... The Jays took two or three at ISU in their last trip to Terre Haute in 2009, sweeping the Saturday doubleheader, before losing 1-0 in the Sunday meeting.

Annual Sibling Rivalry:  Creighton head coach Brent Vigness will match up against his sister, Indiana State head coach Brenda Coldren for the ninth straight season.  Vigness is 19-5 all-time against his sister, including nine straight wins to start the sibling rivalry.  Vigness has won the last three meetings against his sister.

New Sibling Rivalry: In addition to the head coaches being siblings in this series, there is a new sibling rivalry in the Creighton-Indiana State series.  Freshmen sisters Brittanee and Malloree Grove have both had starting roles for the Bluejays this year, with Brittanee starting 21 games at first base and Malloree making 29 starts at third base.  That duo makes up only part of the Grove triplets however.  The third Grove triplet is a member of the Sycamores as Steviee Grove has started 14 of the 18 games she has played this year.

Buel Dominance: Creighton continued its dominant play at Drake’s Buel Field this week, winning its 13th consecutive game on the Bulldogs’ home field with a 2-1 win on Wednesday.  The Jays have now won seven straight against Drake in Des Moines, four games in the MVC Tournament last year and a doubleheader against UNI in 2009.  The Jays last lost at Buel Field on April 5, 2006.

Hawkeye Heaven: Freshman Becca Changstrom has enjoyed pitching in the state of Iowa this year, posting a perfect record in seven appearances.  The rookie pitcher went a perfect 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched in Iowa this year.  She hurled two shutouts and been part of a combined shutout as well, while she allowed only 19 hits and a .143 average in her work in the state this year.

Becca’s Back: Freshman right-hander Becca Changstrom recently missed six games due to injury, during which the Bluejays went 2-4 and suffered their worst MVC loss in school history, while getting swept at home by Wichita State – their first MVC series loss of the year.  Since returning from injury, she is 3-1 with with a 2.59 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24.1 innings.  She hurled a four-hit shutout in a 3-0 win at UNI in the first game of the series and then retired 10 straight and 16 of 17 at one point in CU’s 4-3 win in game two at UNI last weekend.  On Wednesday she struck out 10 in a 2-1 win at Drake.  The Bluejays’ ace is now 15-8 on the season, while the rest of the staff is a combined 6-16.  Her arm has meant even more in MVC play, as she is 9-2 with a 2.02 ERA in league action, while the rest of the staff is 0-7 with a 4.89 ERA against the MVC.

Bad Break: Sophomore catcher Amy Baker suffered a broken nose during Creighton’s game against nationally-ranked Nebraska on April 13.  Since that break, Baker’s bat has not been the same.  The sophomore slugger is now 5-for-26 (.192) in Creighton’s last nine games, with no extra base hits.  She still leads the MVC with 15 home runs, but she has not homered in CU’s last 10 games after hitting 14 home runs in a 17 game span.

Two Can Play that Game: For the first time since 2005, the Bluejays have two players with at least 10 stolen bases in a season.  Ellen Homan swiped her 10th stolen base of the season at Drake on Wednesday, as she joins Danai Martin’s 14 stolen bases to make up the duo.  Martin’s 14 steals are the most by a Bluejay since Melanie Dorsey had 24 steals in 2005.  That same 2005 season, Dorsey was joined by Katie Ayers (12 steals) with more than 10 stolen bases.

Approaching Top 10: Becca Changstrom enters the weekend with 139 strikeouts this season, needing 12 more to crack the Creighton single-season top-10 list for strikeouts.  Amanda Hess fanned 151 in 2007.

Creighton Single-Season Strikeout Leaders
    No.    Name    Ks    Year
    1.    Tammy Nielsen    334    2004
    2.    Tammy Nielsen    319    2005
    3.    Tara Oltman    300    2008   
    4.    Tara Oltman    291    2010
    5.    Tara Oltman    283    2009
    6.    Tammy Nielsen    261    2003   
    7.    Tara Oltman    212    2007
    8.    Stephanie Cortese    183    2006   
    9.    Shelli Mellegaard    165    2001
    10.    Amanda Hess    151    2007
    11.    Kandy Foust    146    1986
    12.    Becca Changstrom    139    2011

Return of the Mak: Freshman MaKenzie Michael has been Creighton’s starting designated player in the Jays’ last eight games, during which she has hit .320 with a team-leading five RBI.  She is 8-for-25 in CU’s last eight games, hitting a solo home run in the Jays’ 2-1 win at Drake on Wednesday.

Liz’s Last Go: Senior Liz McKewon is closing her career in style, as she is Creighton’s leading hitter over the Jays’ last eight games to raise her average to a career-high .283.  The infielder has moved between shortstop and third base, starting all 45 games this season.  In CU’s last eight games, she is 10-for-22 (.455) with three runs scored and three RBI and an on-base percentage of .520.  At UNI last Saturday she tied her career high, collecting three hits in a 4-3 win.

Freshmen Performing in a Pinch: Freshman McKenna Setlik has established herself as Creighton’s top pinch-hitter this season, collecting five hits in 15 pinch-hit at bats for a .333 average.  She has two pinch-hit RBI this spring, tied for the team-lead with three other teammates – all freshmen.  Rookies MaKenzie Michael, Blair Lowe and Brittnie Kreiser each have two pinch-hit RBI this season as well.  Of Creighton’s 11 pinch-hits this season, 10 have come off the bats of freshmen.

He’s a Winner:  Head coach Brent Vigness captured win No. 565 as Creighton’s leader on March 31 at Iowa State, a 9-3 win in Ames - just 30 miles from where he attended high school in Zearing, Iowa.  The win moved him past Creighton Athletics Hall of Famer Mary Higgins for not only the softball record victory total, but he is now the winningest coach in Creighton athletics history – any sport.  In his 18th season, he is the most tenured softball coach in school history, surpassing Higgins’ 17 seasons between 1977-93.

Bohle is Better: Sophomore Jennifer Bohle has enjoyed Missouri Valley Conference play this season, as she is hitting a team-leading .318 inside of Valley play.  The infielder who has started all 45 games this season, hit just .175 in non-conference games.  The converted slap-hitter has 14 hits in 18 MVC games, while she had just 10 hits in 27 non-conference games.

Against the Best: Creighton is 0-5 against top-25 teams this spring, losing twice to Nebraska, twice to Arizona State and once to Arizona, while both Pac-10 teams were ranked in the top-10.  The Bluejays have at least one top-25 win in each of the past six seasons.  The last time Creighton did not have a win against a nationally-ranked team was 2004, when the Jays went 0-4 against the top-25 – all four losses against nationally-ranked Nebraska.  Since 2005, the Bluejays are now 16-28-1 (.367) against top-25 teams.  CU’s last victory over a ranked opponent was a 2-1 win on Feb. 14, 2010 against No. 15 Northwestern in Tempe, Ariz.

Becca Brings Her Bat: Freshman pitcher Becca Changstrom worked her bat into the starting lineup at Missouri State (April 9-10) and has recently been in the batting order when she is in the circle.  The left-handed swinging right-hander singled in her first at bat – her first career hit – against MSU and came around to score the first run of the game in CU’s 4-1 series-opening win.  On April 10 at MSU, after she allowed two runs in the first inning, she got them back in the second inning, driving in a pair of runs on a bases-loaded single, in which she fouled off seven pitches in a 10-pitch at bat.  She singled in her second at bat and dropped down a sac bunt in her third trip to the plate in CU’s 4-3 win.  Her sacrifice fly RBI provided one of CU’s two runs in a 2-1 win at Drake on April 27.

Three Series, Three Wins: With all of its success in recent seasons, it may be surprising to note that Creighton won its first three MVC series for the first time since 2007.  The Jays took 2-of-3 MVC games from Evansville, Bradley and Missouri State to start the MVC season, before losing a series to Wichita State.

Comeback Kids: In 2008, 2009 and 2010, the Bluejays captured one win each season when trailing after six innings.  If that is the quota to meet, the Bluejays did so on at Missouri State on April 10.  The Jays trailed 3-2 heading into the seventh, but scored twice in their final at bat, with Ellen Homan’s RBI triple tying the score and Homan scoring the game-winning run on a squeeze bunt from Christa Ruf.  The Bluejays have now posted five wins this season in games they trailed in.

Women of Steal: The Bluejays tied a season-high with five stolen bases in their 4-1 win at Missouri State on April 9. Freshman speedster Ellen Homan stole a pair of bases, as did sophomore slugger Amy Baker.  The two stolen bases for Baker were not only the first two of her career, but they were her first two attempts after playing 88 games without attempting to steal.  The Bluejays then logged six stolen bases in a doubleheader sweep of North Dakota (April 12), three by Danai Martin

Baker Player of the Week (x2): For the second time this year and the fourth time in her career, Amy Baker was named the MVC Player of the Week on April 4.  Baker hit a home run in five of her six games during the week, including a solo shots at No. 13 Nebraska and Iowa State, and a home run in each game of CU’s three-game set with Bradley.  For the week she hit .429 (9-21) with five home runs and nine RBI.

Snygg’s Heroics: Sammy Snygg is the Iowa prep record-holder with 49 home runs hit at North Polk High School, but the sophomore had yet to hit a big fly in her collegiate career before last weekend.  The sophomore picked a perfect time to hit her first home run as a Bluejay on April 2, launching a towering fly ball just inside the left field foul pole in the bottom of the eighth-inning against Bradley, giving the Jays a 4-3 walk-off win.  It was CU’s first walk-off home run since Michelle Graner hit one on May 3, 2009 and the first Bluejay homer in extra-innings since Graner did so at Drake on April 21, 2010.

Lucky 13: Freshman Becca Changstrom struck out a career-high 13 batters in a 7-1 win over Bradley on April 2.  The 13 Ks equal the highest strikeout total in a game by a Bluejay since the 2008 season.  Tara Oltman twice struck out 13 in 2010, while no Bluejay has fanned more than 13 in a game since Oltman struck out a career-high 14 against Illinois State  on April 21, 2007.  Changstrom has now struck out at least 10 in a game three times this season.

Amy’s Records: Amy Baker set Creighton freshman records last year for home runs (15), RBI (46) and total bases (109).  She has already set another school record this year, as her 15 home runs are the most by a sophomore in school history and are tied for third in single-season history.  She is now the only player in school history with two seasons of at least 15 home runs.  Her 30 career home runs are tied for fourth in school history.

Baker’s Blasts: Amy Baker hit scoreboards at Nebraska (March 30) and Iowa State (March 31) with monster home runs and enters this weekend having homered in each of her last three games.  The sophomore was named the MVC Player of the Week (March 14) after an amazing three-game span at the Diamond Devil Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.  Baker hit five home runs in a doubleheader on March 11, tying the school record by hitting three home runs in a game against Campbell on March 11.  She followed with another blast on Saturday, giving her six home runs in the span of eight plate appearances.  All six of her hits during the week were home runs, while she topped the team with 11 RBI in six games (March 8-12).

Doubles Down: Creighton ranks last in the MVC with just 23 doubles in 45 games.  The Jays have 15 fewer doubles than the next closest team in the league.  At this rate, the Bluejays are on pace for just 26 doubles during the regular-season, which would be the fewest ever under Brent Vigness – 10 fewer than the 36 hit by the 2003 squad.  Should the Jays stay on this pace, it will be the fewest two-baggers hit by the Jays since the 1992 team finished with 21 doubles.

Homer Happy:  Home runs haven’t necessarily meant success for the Bluejays this season.  Creighton is 10-9 when they hit a home run this year and 8-9 when they fail to hit a home run.  The Jays homered twice in their loss at Nebraska on March 30 – their only two hits of the night – and then hit a solo home run for their only run in a 7-1 loss to Iowa State on March 31.  Creighton then did not have an extra base hit, but scored nine runs on 10 singles in its 9-3 win over the Cyclones.

Slow Starters:  The first two innings haven’t been kind to the Bluejays this year, as they have been out-scored 59-26 in the first two innings of games this year.  The Jays’ 10 runs scored and .147 average in the first are their worst totals of any inning this spring.  Three of the 10 first-inning runs scored this year came in CU’s first four games.  The Bluejays have allowed 34 runs in the second inning this year, the most allowed in any frame.

Shutout Streak Snapped:  Freshman pitcher Becca Changstrom tossed three consecutive shutouts (March 12-19) to extend her scoreless innings streak to 25.1.  That streak was ended when she surrendered a two-run home run with no outs in the first inning at No. 13 Nebraska on March 30.  She went from March 11 to March 30 between runs allowed.  The rookie became the first Bluejay to throw a shutout in three straight starts since All-American Tara Oltman did so as a sophomore in 2008.

Sacrificing in Two Ways:  Senior shortstop Liz McKewon ranks second in the MVC with 11 sacrifice bunts.  She has now dropped down 42 sac bunts in her career, moving her into a tie for seventh place in school history in sac bunts.  Not only does she sacrifice her at bats, but she also has sacrificed her body, getting hit by a pitch 16 times in her career to rank fifth in school history in that category.  McKewon has been hit by almost as many pitches in her career as her career base on balls total (18).

MVC Players of the Week: Freshman Becca Changstrom was named the MVC Pitcher of the Week and junior Christa Ruf was named the MVC Player of the Week on March 21 following their play at Evansville.  Changstrom flirted with two no-hitters, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth in a two-hit shutout on Mach 19 before coming within one out of a no-no on March 20.  She hurled 14 innings against UE, allowing just three hits in two complete game shutouts.  Ruf went 3-for-4 with two home runs and all four RBI in Creighton’s 4-0 win on March 20.  She also walked three times, scored three runs and had a .600 on-base percentage during the three-game set.

Getting Ruffed Up: Junior Christa Ruf is having a career year, leading the team with a career-high 30 RBI and ranking second on the team with nine home runs.  Through her first two seasons on campus, she had just one home run and 14 RBI in 86 games.

Martin Gets Moving: Danai Martin leads the  team and ranks third in the MVC with 14 stolen bases.  Ten of those stolen bases have come in four games, as she stole two bases in the season-opener against Western Illinois (Feb. 11), posted three stolen bases against Northern Colorado (March 4) and against Howard (March 12) and again stole two bases against North Dakota (April 12).  She became the first Bluejay since Lauren Cisneros in 2005 to swipe three bases in one game.  The sophomore’s 14 steals are the most by a Bluejay since Melanie Dorsey had 24 stolen bases in 2005.

Hovinga Hurls No-Hitter: Junior pitcher Kylie Hovinga tossed the first Bluejay no-hitter in two seasons in a 10-0 win over Centenary on Feb. 25 at the UTA Classic in Arlington, Texas.  The left-hander walked one and struck out five in the five-inning no-no.  It was the 17th no-hitter thrown by the Bluejays during head coach Brent Vigness’ tenure.
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