Softball Looks to Repeat as MVC Tournament Champions

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Christa Ruf
Courtesy: Eric Francis

MVC Tournament Central | Live Video | Live Stats | Bracket

Creighton at State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
vs. Wichita State • Thursday, May 12 • Killian Softball Stadium
Springfield, Mo. • 1:30 pm
vs. Southern Illinois • Thursday, May 12 • Killian Softball Stadium
Springfield, Mo. • 6:30 pm*
vs. Drake • Friday, May 13 • Killian Softball Stadium
Springfield, Mo. • 2:30 pm*
Championship Game • Saturday, May 14 • Killian Softball Stadium
Springfield, Mo. • Noon*

*Single elimination tournament, asterisk games only if Creighton wins.

This Week:  Creighton enters the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as the No. 6 seed,  looking to repeat as MVC Tournament champions and add to their league-record six postseason titles.  The Bluejays start play in the single elimination tournament on Thursday at 1:30 pm against No. 7 seed Wichita State.  The winner of the CU-WSU game will play No. 3 seed Southern Illinois later on Thursday at 6:30 pm.  Should the Jays win again, No. 2 seed Drake awaits at 2:30 pm on Friday and the championship game is set for noon on Saturday.  Saturday’s title game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net (Midwest, Indiana, Kansas City), Fox College Sports, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-verse.  The first six games of the tournament will have free video webcasts provided.

Scouting Creighton (24-27, 12-12 MVC): Creighton has appeared in six of the last eight NCAA Tournaments and is the reigning MVC 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 ... CU went 6-4 in its final 10 regular-season games after dropping six straight  ... Creighton is 8-7 in neutral site games this year and is 2-1 in Springfield ... The Jays have hit 38 home runs this year, but only five in their last 16 games ... CU ranks second in the MVC with a .964 fielding percentage ... Catcher Amy Baker hit 14 of her league-leading 18 home runs in a 17-game span from March 11 through April 12, and she homered three times in CU’s last five games ... Baker, who tops the team with 33 RBI, was named to the MVC All-Tournament Team last year, going 3-for-11 (.273) with a home run and three RBI ... Junior Christa Ruf has career-highs with nine home runs and 30 RBI this year, while her .356 average in neutral site games this year is tops on the team ... Ellen Homan leads the team with 51 hits, 15 multi-hit games, 25 runs scored and a .315 average and is on pace to become the first freshman to lead Creighton in hitting since 1989  ... Senior Liz McKewon, who is hitting a career-high .286, is CU’s hottest hitter entering the tournament, batting .381 (16-42) in her last 14 games ... Freshman pitcher Becca Changstrom leads the MVC with an opponents average of just .174, and she tops the team with a 17-10 record, 166 innings and 168 strikeouts ... Changstrom’s ERA is 0.75 in 10 games pitched at neutral sites this year ... Fellow rookie right-hander Brittany Telecky has a 1.46 ERA in her last six appearances and 24 innings pitched.

Head Coach: Head coach Brent Vigness (Central College, 1988) is in his 18th season at Creighton.  With a record of 577-402-2 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 725-473-3.  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 at the Tournament: Creighton, the defending MVC Tournament champion, has played in nine of the last 12 MVC Tournament Championship games, including each of the last two.  In 17 MVC tournament appearances, the Jays have the best winning percentage in tournament history at 36-20 (.643) with an MVC record six tournament titles.  The Bluejays have won five of the last eight MVC tournament titles (2003-05, 2007, 2010) to go along with their 1999 championship for six Valley postseason titles.  CU is 18-4 (.818) in its last 22 tourney games and since their first tournament championship in 1999 the Bluejays are 30-10 (.750) in the MVC postseason.  Creighton is the last team to repeat as tournament champion, winning three straight from 2003 to 2005.

Planting the Seeds: The Bluejays enter the tournament as the sixth seed for just the third time in school history.  The last time the Jays were the sixth seed, they went 1-2 in 2006.  The Bluejays defeated Southern Illinois in 10 innings in their first game as the sixth seed in 2006 in Omaha.  The 1995 team was also the sixth seed, going 0-2 at the event.

The Big Dance:  The Bluejays have appeared in six of the last eight NCAA tournaments, earning the automatic bid via an MVC tournament title five times.  In 2008 the Jays earned an at-large berth into the NCAA postseason and in 2009 the Bluejays were left out of the tournament despite an impressive resume and loss in the MVC title game.  CU has appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments; 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010.  CU played in College World Series in 1982 and 1986.  CU is 12-24 all-time in the NCAA postseason.

Winning: Creighton has lost its first game of the MVC Tournament just twice since 2000.  The Bluejays lost to Southern Illinois 1-0 in its first game at the 2000 tournament and fell in a 3-2 decision to Drake in its first game of the 2008 tournament (despite not allowing an earned run).  CU has gone winless in the MVC Tournament only three times (2008, 1998, 1995) in 17 appearances.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance: In 2003, the Bluejays entered the MVC Tournament with a losing record at 21-22.  The Bluejays won four games in three days to capture their first of three straight tournament titles that year.  In 2009, Bradley – the No. 6 seed – was 21-26 entering the MVC Tournament and also won four games to win the title.  If the Bluejays can win four games this weekend, they will go above .500 on the year for the first time since April 12, when they were 18-17 after a doubleheader sweep of North Dakota.

Close Calls: Each of Creighton’s last five MVC Tournament wins have been one-run victories.  CU’s last seven MVC Tournament games have been decided by two or fewer runs, including six one-run games.  Since 2001, the Jays have played 30 games in the MVC Tournament, 20 have been decided by one run, the Bluejays are 17-3 in one-run games in the MVC postseason over the last decade.  Nine of Creighton’s last 10, 14 of the last 16 and 24 of the last 30 MVC postseason games the Jays have played in have been decided by one or two runs.

Losing is a Good Omen: Each of the previous four times the Bluejays have entered the MVC Tournament after they lost their regular-season finale, they won the tournament – bouncing back from losses in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010 to win titles.  The Jays lost their last game of the season in 2010, but responded with four straight wins to win the title last year.  The Bluejays will enter this year’s tourney on a losing streak for the first time since 2005, when they also lost their last two games of the season.  That 2005 squad went 4-0 at the tournament.

Title Defense:  Creighton is looking to repeat as MVC Tournament champions, with only five players on the 2011 team which played during CU’s 2010 tournament title run.  Danai Martin, Amy Baker, Liz McKewon, Emily Perry and Christa Ruf each played in the tournament last year – with Baker, McKewon and Ruf starting each game in 2010.  Returners Jennifer Bohle, Kylie Hovinga, Ashley Frutos and Sammy Snygg were on the roster in 2010, but did not appear in an MVC Tournament game.

History? Lots. Experience? Little: Creighton is hoping it can build on the history it has at the MVC Tournament, since its experience does not match that history.  While Creighton has dominated the tournament since 2003, the Bluejays only have five players on the roster with playing experience in the Valley postseason.  Those five players – Danai Martin, Amy Baker, Liz McKewon, Emily Perry and Christa Ruf – are a combined 6-for-41 (.146) in 21 combined tournament games.  Baker (3-11) has three of those six hits, while Martin (1-2), McKewon (1-19) and Ruf (1-9) each have only one career hit at the event.  No pitcher on the Bluejay roster has thrown a pitch at the MVC Tournament.

Who’s Pitching?: One person we know will not be pitching for Creighton this weekend is the one who has thrown the previous 64 innings and a complete game in Creighton’s previous nine MVC Tournament games – All-American Tara Oltman.  Oltman was 7-2 with a 0.98 ERA as the only pitcher Creighton used during its previous four MVC Tournament runs, which included titles in 2007 and 2010.

More Pitching Info:  Creighton has used a total of four starting pitchers (Tara Oltman, Stephanie Cortese, Tammy Nielsen, Abby Johnson) and just five hurlers (Oltman, Cortese, Nielsen, Johnson, Laura Fonda) in the MVC Tournament since 2003.  A Bluejay pitcher has thrown a complete game in 20 of CU’s last 22 MVC Tournament games - including 10 straight.  The only two times Creighton has used a reliever in the previous eight MVC Tournaments was a 2-1 win at Wichita State (May 12, 2005), when Nielsen relieved in the first inning for Johnson and a 4-0 loss to Missouri State (May 11, 2006) when Cortese went four innings, before Fonda relieved for the final two.

2010 Tourney Recap: Creighton captured its league-record sixth MVC Tournament title last year, by going 4-0 in Des Moines.  The Jays needed extra-innings to defeat Wichita State 5-4 in the opening game, then topped Illinois State 2-1, before beating Southern Illinois 2-1 and then 3-2 in the championship game.  The Bluejays hit five home runs in the four games, including two from all-tournament team member Renae Sinkler.  Lauren Larson led the team with four RBI in the event and Amy Baker hit .273 (3-11) with a home run and three RBI to join Larson on the all-tournament team.  Tournament MVP Tara Oltman pitched every inning at the event, going 4-0 with a 0.72 ERA, allowing 21 hits and striking out 24 in 29 innings pitched.  The Bluejays hit .210 in the tournament, winning four one run games.

Springfield Trip: Creighton is 4-2 all-time at Killian Softball Stadium, going 2-1 against Missouri State in both 2009 and 2011.  The Jays have won their opening game in both of their previous trips to Killian.  The Jays are 7-2 in their last nine games played in Springfield and are 3-2 all-time in the MVC Tournament in Springfield – all five games were played in 1994, Brent Vigness’ first season at CU.

Put it in Neutral:  While the Bluejays are under .500 on the season, they do own a winning record in 15 neutral site games this season, 8-7.  The Bluejays are hitting .282 at neutral sites this year, with 14 home runs in 15 games, averaging 4.3 runs per game.  Christa Ruf leads the team with a .356 average and 16 hits at neutral sites.  Malloree Grove (.351), Ellen Homan (.341) and Danai Martin (.324) are all hitting above .300 as starters at neutral sites.  MaKenzie Michael (.444, 4-9) and Brittnie Kreiser (.310, 9-29) have hit well in limited time at neutral venues.  Amy Baker has seven home runs and 14 RBI in 15 neutral site games this season.  The Bluejay pitching staff allowed opponents to bat just .185 and owned a 2.29 ERA in neutral settings, with Becca Changstrom going 6-3 with three shutouts and a 0.75 ERA in 10 appearances at neutral sites.  Opponents hit just .117 - 22 hits in 55.2 innings - at neutral venues against the Bluejay ace this season.

Vigness is the Winningest:  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 – all sports.  In his 18th season, he is the most tenured softball coach in school history, surpassing Higgins’ 17 seasons between 1977-93.

K-Strom: Becca Changstrom logged 18 strikeouts last weekend and enters the MVC Tournament with 168 Ks on the year.  She now ranks ninth on the single-season strikeout list in CU history.  Amazingly this marks the ninth straight season that a Bluejay pitcher has notched a mark in the top-10 in this category.  In fact, all 10 numbers on the list have been achieved within the last 11 seasons.

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.    Becca Changstrom    168    2011
    10.    Shelli Mellegaard    165    2001

League Leaders:  Amy Baker leads the MVC with 18 home runs this season, which ranks as the third-highest single-season total in league history.  Baker ranks second in the MVC with a .648 slugging percentage, despite not having any doubles or triples this year.  She ranks third in the league in walks (29) and total bases (94).  Becca Changstrom leads the MVC with an opponents batting average of just .174 and she ranks second in the league with a 2.02 ERA.  Danai Martin ranks second in the MVC with 17 stolen bases and Liz McKewon is tied for second in the league with 11 sacrifice bunts.  Ashley Frutos tied for the MVC lead with eight sac bunts in league-only games.

Liz’s Last Hurrah: Creighton’s lone senior, Liz McKewon, is the Bluejays’ hottest hitter coming into the MVC Tournament.  The infielder hit a team-leading .381 (16-42) in her final 14 regular-season games to raise her overall average to a career-best .286.  McKewon has also established career-highs with 42 hits and 13 RBI this season.  She has started 199 of the 202 games she has played in during her career – 126 starts at third base, 58 at shortstop and 15 at second base.  McKewon ranks fifth in school history, getting hit by a pitch 17 times in her career, while her 42 sacrifice bunts rank seventh in school history.  She has led the team in assists every year she has been healthy at Creighton (2008, 2009, 2011) and she has 413 career assists, including 109 this year.

Becca by Comparison: We’ll preface this note by saying it isn’t fair to be compared to the best pitcher in school and MVC history and it’s even harder to be the one replacing her in the circle, but Bluejay freshman Becca Changstrom has put up numbers that are comparable to three-time MVC Pitcher of the Year and All-American Tara Oltman when looking at the rookie season for both right-handers.  Oltman was named the MVC Pitcher of the Year as a freshman in 2007, but Changstrom has topped some of Oltman’s rookie numbers this season.  Changstrom has a better average against (.174) than Oltman (.190), more shutouts (8) than Oltman (7) and more strikeouts per seven-innings pitched (7.1) than Oltman (6.5) did as a freshman.  See the complete chart at the bottom of this page.

Baker’s Bat is Back:  Sophomore Amy Baker leads the MVC with 18 home runs this season, a career high, which ranks second in single-season school history and third in MVC history.  The Bluejay catcher hit a home run at Indiana State on April 30, snapping a streak of 11 consecutive games without a home run.  Of Baker’s 18 home runs this year, 14 were hit during a 17-game span between March 11 and April 12.  Baker has hit three home runs in her last 16 games, but all three came in the final five games of the regular-season.

Blanks from Becca & Brittany: Freshman pitchers Becca Changstrom and Brittany Telecky combined to throw 14 scoreless innings in a pair of shutouts at Indiana State on April 30.  Changstrom hurled a complete game, two-hit shutout of the Sycamores in the opener before combining with Telecky for a shutout in game two.  Telecky threw the first 4.1 innings to pick up the win and Changstrom didn’t allow a runner in her 2.2 innings of work to pick up the save – the first of her career.  Telecky relieved Changstrom on Sunday and threw another 4.1 innings of scoreless softball.

Doubleheader Shutout:  As mentioned in the previous note, Becca Changstrom and Brittany Telecky combined to throw shutouts in CU’s doubleheader sweep at Indiana State (April 30).  That was just the second doubleheader shutout sweep for the Bluejays in the last four seasons.  The Bluejays blanked Drake in a doubleheader sweep on April 21, 2010.  Prior to 2010, the Jays hadn’t posted a doubleheader shutout sweep since the 2007 season, when they posted three such sweeps.

Telecky’s Talent: Freshman pitcher Brittany Telecky had a streak of 18.1 consecutive scoreless innings snapped in Creighton’s regular-season finale.  The rookie right-hander has allowed only five earned runs in her last 24 innings of work entering the MVC Tournament.  Telecky has appeared as a relief pitcher 16 times this season – the most relief outings by a Bluejay hurler since Linda Manninen came out of the bullpen 19 times in 1997.

Ellen is Elite:  Freshman Ellen Homan is the only Bluejay regular hitting above .300, with a team-leading .315 average.  The rookie is attempting to become the first Bluejay freshman to lead the team in hitting since Jody Ream led the team with a .325 average in 1989.  Homan ranks second on the team with 13 stolen bases this season, the most by a Bluejay freshman since Creighton Hall of Famer Heidi Geier had 19 steals as a rookie in 1996.

Hitting Better, Scoring Less: The 2011 Bluejays are batting .258 as a team, compared to last year’s team average of just .243.  But last year’s team averaged 4.4 runs per game, compared to this year’s average of 3.5 per game.  Perhaps the difference can be seen in Creighton’s average with runners in scoring position.  Last year, the Bluejays batted .284 with RISP, as six Jays finished with 13 or more hits in that situation, led by Amy Baker’s .489 mark and Renae Sinkler’s .469 average with RISP.  This year, the Jays are hitting only .266 with runners in scoring position.  Creighton’s top two hitters with RISP this year are both slap-hitters – Danai Martin (.435) and Ellen Homan (.348).  Homan, who has hit leadoff in more than half of CU’s games, leads the team with 16 hits with RISP.  Martin has 10 hits with RISP, producing four of her five RBI this year.  Baker, who was 23-of-47 (.489) with RISP last year, is 11-for-54 (.204) in the same situations this season.

Take the Extra Base: Another factor in Creighton’s scoring drop this season might be attributed to its lack of extra-base hits.  The Bluejays have homered 38 times this season, but only three times in the last 13 games.  CU has a league-low 24 doubles, on pace for its lowest doubles total in a season since 1992.  The Bluejays, who set a school-record with 66 home runs last year, averaged 2.1 extra-base hits per game in 2010.  The 2011 Bluejays are averaging only 1.3 extra-base hits per game.

Malloree’s Maladies: Freshman Malloree Grove became the first Bluejay to get hit by a pitch twice in the same game in two years, when she was beaned twice by Indiana State on April 30.  Making it worse, she was hit by a pitch twice in the same inning, as the Bluejays sent 11 batters to the plate during a six-run second inning.

Slow Starters:  Creighton has scored just 18 runs in the first inning this year, compared to 36 scored by opponents.  Opponents have out-scored the Bluejays 82-42 in the first two innings of games this year, including a CU-worst 46 runs allowed in the second inning.  The Bluejays are hitting just .182 in the first inning this year, their worst hitting inning.
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.  Danai Martin leads the team and ranks second in the MVC with 17 stolen bases this spring, while Ellen Homan has 13 stolen bases.  Martin’s 17 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.

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 leads the team with three pinch-hit RBI this spring, while four teammates – three freshmen – have two pinch-hit RBI.  Rookies MaKenzie Michael, Blair Lowe and Brittnie Kreiser each have two pinch-hit RBI this season, as does sophomore Emily Perry.  Of Creighton’s 12 pinch-hits this season, 10 have come off the bats of freshmen.

Bohle is Better: Sophomore Jennifer Bohle has enjoyed Missouri Valley Conference play this season, as she batted .306 inside of Valley play.  The infielder who has started all 51 games this season, hit just .175 in non-conference games.  The converted slap-hitter had 19 hits in 24 MVC games, while she had just 10 hits in 27 non-conference games.

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-handed pitcher 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 and she drove in a run against regular-season champion Illinois State on May 7.  The pitcher is now 5-for-19 (.263) with four RBI and four sacrifice bunts this season.

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 struck out at least 10 in a game four 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 set another school record this year, as her 18 home runs are the most by a sophomore in school history, rank second in single-season school history and rank third in MVC single-season history.  She is now the only player in school history with two seasons of at least 15 home runs and one of only two MVC players with two 15+ home run seasons (Amber Smith, ILS).  Her 33 career home runs rank 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 24 doubles in 51 games.  The Jays have 16 fewer doubles than the next closest team in the league.  The Bluejays are on pace for the fewest doubles ever hit ever under Brent Vigness, below 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.

Shutout Streak Snapped:  Freshman pitcher Becca Changstrom tossed three consecutive shutouts (March 12-19) and had a scoreless innings streak to 25.1 which 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 17 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.

Martin Gets Moving: Danai Martin leads the  team and ranks second in the MVC with 17 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 15 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.

Hawkeye Heaven: Freshman Becca Changstrom enjoyed pitching in the state of Iowa this year, posting a perfect record in seven appearances.  The rookie hurler 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 was part of a combined shutout, allowing only 19 hits and a .143 average in her work in the state this year.

Against the Best: Creighton went 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.

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