SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -Becca Changstrom carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed just one hit in her Missouri Valley Conference Tournament debut as the Creighton softball team cruised to an 8-1 win over Wichita State in the first round of the tournament Thursday afternoon at Killian Softball Stadium. Changstrom added a hit of her own and two RBI, while MaKenzie Michael went 3-for-4 with two RBI in the 11-hit Bluejay attack.
The win in the single elimination tournament keeps the Bluejays' season alive, as they advance to face No. 3 seed Southern Illinois (35-16) later today. Creighton is looking to repeat as the MVC Tournament champion.
Just as it did in its first two meetings with Wichita State this year, Creighton jumped on top of the Shockers in the first inning. With one out, Liz McKewon was hit by a pitch, taking one for the team as the offering from WSU starter Katie Armagost hit the facemask of her helmet. Amy Baker, who leads the MVC with 18 home runs, followed by collecting just her first double of the season with a ball into the left field corner. Both runners scored when Christa Ruf, batting clean up for the first time this season, singled to right field and the Bluejays led 2-0 after one inning.
The Bluejays added a single score in the fourth inning when Changstrom helped her cause with a sacrifice fly, scoring Emily Perry who had led off the frame with a single.
Creighton opened the game up and chased Armagost with a four-run fifth inning. With two outs, Ruf singled up the middle and promptly stole second base - one of four Bluejay steals in the game. Ruf then scored easily when Michael ripped a single up the middle to put the Jays ahead 4-0. That single chased Armagost from the game and Sloan Anderson entered. Anderson walked Perry on four pitches before surrendering a run-scoring single to Ashley Frutos. Jennifer Bohle and Changstrom each followed with RBI singles and Creighton led 7-0. The Jays could have ended the game with a run-rule victory, but stranded two runners to end the frame.
Changstrom, who walked the leadoff hitter of the game with the help of two illegal pitches, settled in to retire the next 17 Shocker hitters before she agains walked WSU leadoff batter Kiersten Dixon with two outs in the sixth inning. Jamie Hull then broke up the no-hitter by tripling off of a diving Perry in right field, scoring Dixon with the only Shocker run of the ball game.
Creighton tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Michael again drove in a run on a single to provide the final margin of the game.
Changstrom allowed only four base runners in the complete game victory, improving to 18-10 with the win. The rookie right-hander struck out four, walked three and logged her fourth complete game one-hitter of the season. In addition to her work in the circle, she had a sac fly and RBI single to finish 1-for-2 with two RBI in the win.
Michael finished a career-high 3-for-4 with two RBI in the win. Christa Ruf was the only other Bluejay with more than one hit, as she finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. It was Ruf's seventh multi-hit game of the season, but just her second in the last 22 games. Perry was 1-for-3 and scored twice for the Bluejay offense.
Armagost (8-13) suffered the loss for WSU, as the Bluejays ended the Shockers season for the second straight year. WSU finished 2011 with a 20-37 record.
The eight runs were the most scored by Creighton in an MVC Tournament game since May 9, 1999, when the Bluejays topped Illinois State 8-4 in Wichita. The seven runs is the largest winning margin ever recorded by Creighton in an MVC postseason game.
Creighton, the sixth-seed, will return to the diamond tonight when it faces No. 3 seed Southern Illinois at 6:30 pm. The Salukis (35-16) earned a first-round bye at the event. The Bluejays and Salukis did not play in the regular-season as the series between the teams was cancelled because of snow and cold in Omaha on March 26-27. The CU-SIU winner will advance to face No. 2 seed Drake (33-20) on Friday at 2:30 pm in semifinal action.