Creighton Visits Drake For Mid-Week Doubleheader
Wednesday, April 18 • Ron Buel Field • Des Moines, Iowa • 3 pm (DH)
This Week: Creighton looks to continue its run of recent success in Des Moines when it faces Drake on Wednesday in a midweek doubleheader. Creighton has won 13 straight games at Ron Buel Field, where first pitch in game one is set for 3 pm.
In The Last Week: Creighton went 0-3 last week, falling 3-0 at Nebraska on Wednesday before getting swept 5-4 and 15-3 by UNI on Sunday in Omaha. Amy Baker led CU with three hits last week, while Becca Changstrom was a tough-luck loser in the circle, dropping a couple of games despite surrendering just two earned runs in a pair of complete games. Creighton led 4-2 with two outs in the seventh inning of the opener vs. UNI before surrendering three unearned runs that allowed the Panthers to rally.
Scouting Creighton (20-18-1, 9-5 MVC): Creighton jumped out to the second-best start in school history this spring, winning its first seven games before playing five games against ranked opponents in an eight-game span ... The Bluejay offense has scored at least 10 runs in a game 10 times this year and its 6.2 runs per game is its highest scoring average in 34 years ... CU leads the MVC with a .472 slugging percentage, 40 homers, 226 RBI and 240 runs ... The Jays rank in the NCAA top-35 in scoring (15th), slugging percentage (24th) and homers per game (24th) ... Junior Amy Baker leads the MVC with 42 RBI, is tied for fifth with six homers, and is fourth in batting average (.367). She ranks second in CU history with 39 career home runs and is tied for third with 121 RBI ... Freshman Allie Mathewson is fifth in the MVC with a .357 batting average. She ranks second in the league in hits (46), third in runs (38), and leads the team in stolen bases (13) ... Sophomore Ellen Homan is batting .328 this year (18th in the MVC) ... Freshman Bri Lingl is hitting .476 in MVC play and ranks in the top-three in the MVC in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, hits, RBI, total bases and sacrifice flies in league contests ... Senior Christa Ruf is hitting .356 (16-45) in her last 18 games ... Newcomer Alexis Cantu (.333) leads the MVC with 11 homers, 35 walks and a .733 slugging percentage, while also going 6-3 in 51.2 innings in the circle ... Sophomore right-hander Becca Changstrom is 11-10 and leads the team with a 2.60 ERA, 121.0 innings pitched and 123 strikeouts. Changstrom is 6-3 with a 0.96 ERA in her last nine outings, spanning 58.1 innings, striking out 66 and allowing 43 hits in that span ... The Jays field at a .956 rate and own a 3.80 team ERA with four shutouts.
Scouting Drake (18-21, 9-6 MVC): Drake is 18-21 on the season, including a 9-6 mark in the MVC. The Bulldogs are 11-7 since a 7-14 start, but have lost five of six MVC contests to upper-division league teams UNI and Illinois State the past two weekends ... Hayley Nybo leads the team in batting average (.321), homers (6), RBI (27), and doubles (8) ... Torey Craddock hits .274, is tied for the team-lead with six homers and is second with 20 RBI ... In the circle, Jordan Gronewold has started 34 of the team’s 39 games, and is 13-15 with a 2.76 ERA. She leads the MVC with 172.1 innings pitched, and is second with 148 strikeouts ... Rebekah Schmidt is the only other Bulldogs to pitch this year. She’s been a reliever in 26 of her 31 appearances, and is 5-6 with a 2.99 ERA and a Valley-leading seven saves, a figure that also ranks second nationally.
Head Coach: Head coach Brent Vigness (Central College, 1988) is in his 19th season at Creighton. With a record of 598-421-3 at Creighton, he is the winningest coach in Bluejay athletics history in any sport. Vigness also served as head coach at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., for five years prior to coming to Creighton. His career record in 24 years as a head coach is 746-492-3. 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 Staffs of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
CU-DU Series: Creighton leads the all-time series with Drake, 54-26, and has won the season series four of the past five years against the Bulldogs.
The Bluejays have won seven straight road games vs. Drake, and won 13 straight games overall at Ron Buel Field when you add in the 2010 MVC Tournament and two neutral-site games vs. UNI in 2009.
Creighton experienced substantial success last year against Drake’s lone returning hurler, Jordan Gronewold, as seen below:
Creighton vs. Gronewold
Michael 2-2, 2 RBI
Homan 2-2, 2B
Ruf 1-1, RBI, BB
Snygg 0-1, BB
Baker 0-2, SO
Chasing 600 Brent Vigness enters this week with 598 wins at Creighton, just two shy of 600. Vigness went to high school in Zearing, Iowa, and attended Central College in Pella, Iowa. Vigness’ 598 victories are more than any Creighton coach in any sport in school history.
Strikeout Artist Becca Changstrom tied a season-high with 11 strikeouts in game one of Creighton's series with UNI. That gives her 298 punchouts in her career, enough to push her from eighth to sixth in CU history.
With 11 strikeouts this week, Changstrom can move to fifth place, passing current Missouri State head coach and former Bluejay student-athlete Holly Hesse's 308 form 1979-82.
High & Tight
Creighton was hit by five pitches in five innings during the second game of its series vs. UNI. It came on the four-year anniversary of the last time the Jays were beaned five times in one game, as it happened at Drake on April 15, 2008.
Home Away From Home
Creighton travels to Ron Buel Field on Wednesday for a doubleheader at Drake. The Bluejays have won 13 straight games at the facility since losing game one of an April 5, 2006 doubleheader vs. Drake.
Since then, Creighton has gone a perfect 7-0 vs. Drake there (winning the last game in 2006, twice each in 2008 and 2010, and once each in 2009 and 2011). In addition, Creighton also swept a neutral-site doubleheader vs. UNI in 2009 there, and went 4-0 at the 2010 MVC Tournament in Des Moines.
Creighton leads the MVC with 40 home runs this year, two more than the team compiled all of last season. Each of the previous five times the Jays have slugged 40 round-trippers in a season, Creighton has made the NCAA Tournament, as seen below:
Year HR NCAA’s? MVC Titles
2012 40 TBD TBD
2010 66 Yes Tourney
2008 47 Yes Regular-Season
2007 57 Yes Reg.-Season & Tourney
2004 42 Yes Tourney
2003 43 Yes Tourney
Rare Blown Lead
Dating to last year Creighton had won 22 straight games when leading after six innings before squandering a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on Sunday vs. Northern Iowa.
It was just the third time in the last 10 seasons that CU had lost a game in which it led with two outs in the seventh inning.
Since 2007, Creighton had been 135-3 (.978) when leading heading to the seventh inning, and 224-11 (.953) since 2003 in those situations.
In addition, Creighton had outscored foes 24-1 in the seventh inning this season prior to UNI's three-run outburst on Sunday.
Can’t Miss Kid Alexis Cantu had one of the biggest offensive games in MVC history in an April 6 game two win at Wichita State. She went 4-for-4 with three homers and eight RBI in a 14-4 win, while also throwing a complete game. Cantu's three homers are tied for third in NCAA single-game history, while her eight RBI are tied for 19th in NCAA history. In addition, her 13 total bases are tied for seventh in NCAA history. All three figures tied or set MVC single-game records.
Cantu was named MVC Player of the Week on April 9th after hitting .421 in six games last week, adding four homers, seven runs and 11 RBI in her big week.
She also hurled two complete games in the circle, holding teams to a 1.87 ERA and surrendering just eight hits in 15 innings of work.
Going, Going, Gone: Creighton hit 10 home runs in a three-game series at Wichita State. The Bluejays hit four homers in both games on April 6th, then hit two more on April 7th.
The April 6th doubleheader marked the first time in program history that CU hit four homers or more in consecutive contests.
Creighton started the series with three homers in the top of the first inning, as Allie Mathewson, Bri Lingl and Sammy Snygg all went yard. It was the second time this season the Jays homered three times in the same frame, having also done so in the second inning vs. Howard on March 4 when Liz Dike, Mathewson and Amy Baker all homered.
NCAA Stat Leaders: Creighton is 15th in runs per game (6.15), 24th in slugging percentage (.472), 24th in homers per game (1.03) and 41st in batting average (.299). Alexis Cantu ranks eighth nationally in walks per game (0.90), 19th in on-base percentage (.538), 41st in homers per game (0.28) and 59th in RBI per game (0.90). Amy Baker ranks 22nd in RBI per game (1.08) and is 62nd in walks per game (0.67). Allie Mathewson is 37th in runs per game (0.97). Becca Changstrom is 75th in strikeouts per seven innings (7.1).
Surpassing 10: Creighton has scored at least 10 runs in a game 10 times already this season. The 2011 team scored 10 runs in a game just once and the Bluejays have already scored 10 or more runs in a game more this season than in the previous three seasons combined.
Creighton’s 15 runs on April 7th at Wichita State matched the program’s highest-scoring 3-game MVC series all last season (at Bradley).
Creighton’s 39 runs in the series vs. Wichita State were its highest scoring series against any MVC opponent since the league went to 3-game series in 2001.
Creighton hadn’t scored 10 runs in consecutive games vs. an MVC foe since April 28, 2007, when it scored 10 runs in two straight games vs. Northern Iowa.
Creighton hadn’t scored 14 or more runs in consecutive games since 1978.
High in the Valley: Creighton is 9-5 through 14 MVC games this spring, as the Bluejays are hitting .332 and have scored 106 runs in their first 14 Valley games. That’s the most Creighton has ever scored in its first 14 league games. By comparison, Creighton scored 77 runs in 24 conference games last year.
• Creighton is slugging at a .563 rate and owns an on-base percentage of .421 in Valley play. Eight different women have homered at least once in league action.
• Three newcomers have helped the Jays lead the way in league play. Freshmen Bri Lingl and Liz Dike have reached base safely in all 14 games, while sophomore transfer Alexis Cantu has reached in CU’s past 13 Valley contests.
Creighton has three players averaging more than one RBI per game in Valley play: Cantu, Lingl and Amy Baker.
Slammin’ Sammy: Junior Sammy Snygg had the best offensive week of her career at Wichita State on April 6-7, hitting .357 with two homers and five RBI in six games, while also scoring six times last week. She also pitched once, throwing six innings and allowing just two earned runs (2.33 ERA).
Snygg began her week just 8-for-85 (.094) in 100 career games with one homer and two RBI. In her big series, she nearly doubled these totals, going 5-for-11 at the plate. She homered twice in game one of Friday's doubleheader. Then in the third game, Snygg went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs and three RBI, in addition to her first career stolen base.
Snygg, who also owns a 3.77 GPA in Exercise Science, was named MVC/Prairie Farms Scholar-Athlete of the Week on April 11th.
Inside Job: Lincoln native Liz Dike leads all MVC freshmen with six home runs this season, with four coming in Valley play.
Dike homered in each of the last two games of the Wichita State series. Her round-tripper on Saturday was an inside-the-park job, her second of the year. Dike also hit an inside-the-park homer on Feb. 19th at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Dike, who enrolled at Creighton in January and should still be a high school senior, has started all 39 games at shortstop this season for the Jays. She’s on pace to be the first Bluejay infielder since 2009 to start every game at the same position.
Dike owns a hit in 10 of CU’s last 13 games and is hitting .316 in that span, with 11 RBI in those games.
In A Pinch: Sophomore Brittnie Kreiser has developed into one of the most dangerous pinch-hitters in the country of late. She’s been called on to pinch-hit 17 times this year, and has reached base safely seven times. Kreiser owns 10 RBI as a pinch-hitter this year.
Kreiser owns an RBI in five of her last nine pinch-hit appearances, going 4-for-8 with a sacrifice fly and eight RBI off the bench.
Kreiser and Blair Lowe share the MVC lead with five pinch-hits this season.
By comparison, Creighton owned 11 pinch-hit RBI as a team last year, including two from Kreiser.
Below is a list of Creighton’s players in pinch-hitting situations this season: Brittnie Kreiser .385, 5-13, 1 HR, 10 RBI Blair Lowe .385, 5-13, 2B, 3 RBI McKenna Setlik .182, 2-11, 3 runs, 2 RBI MaKenzie Michael .000, 0-9 Taylor Flodman .000, 0-4 Bri Lingl .000, 0-3 Emily Perry .000, 0-1
Happy Homecoming: Creighton played its first 25 games on the road this year before opening its home schedule with a doubleheader sweep of South Dakota State on March 28th.
The Jays won 4-1 and 15-1, with the 15-run outburst serving as the highest scoring home game for the Bluejays since opening the 2000 season by scoring a school-record 20 runs against College of Saint Mary (Neb.). It was the third straight season CU swept its home-opening doubleheader.
Changstrom Heats Up: Sophomore pitcher Becca Changstrom has regained the form she displayed as a freshman, when she was a second-team all-MVC selection. In her last nine appearances, Changstrom has allowed just eight earned runs in 58.1 innings of work, good for a 0.96 ERA. She’s 6-3 in those appearances, striking out 66 and allowing just 43 hits.
Baker’s Dozens: Junior Amy Baker owns 42 RBI so far this season, making her just the third player in Creighton history with multiple seasons of 40 or more RBI.
The only others in that elite category are two of her assistant coaches, Abby Johnson and Renae Sinkler.
Baker ranks tied for third in CU history with 121 RBI, matching Stacey Rybar and Bailey Dawson on that list.
Baker’s Climb: Junior Amy Baker leads the MVC with 42 RBI in just 39 games this spring (after leading the team with 33 RBI in 53 games last year).
With six home runs this year, she now has 39 homers in her career, trailing only current volunteer assistant coach Renae Sinkler’s school record 50 home runs.
Baker is tied for 16th in MVC history with 121 career RBI, and is within reach to set the MVC career record of 157 RBI, currently held by Illinois State’s Heather Stella (1996-99).
Offensive Explosion: Creighton is 9-5-1 in its last 15 games thanks to a balanced offensive effort. Nine different women have homered in those 15 games, with seven of them owning multiple homers.
As a team, Creighton owns 23 homers and 100 runs in the last 15 games, hitting .302, slugging .500 and an on-base percentage of .413. Creighton has also stolen 18-of-19 bases successfully in those games.
Sophomore Amy Baker has hit .436 with three homers and 14 RBI in that time, while Alexis Cantu is hitting .410 with six homers and 17 RBI, in addition to 13 walks.
Cantu Crushes Record: Sophomore Alexis Cantu hit a tape-measure shot home run against South Dakota (March 28) for her sixth home run of the year. In crushing the towering deep fly, she set a Creighton record for home runs hit by a left-handed batter in a single-season, topping the five hit by Jessica German in 2007. Cantu leads the MVC with 11 homers this season.
Cheaper By The Dozen: Creighton has twice scored 10 or more runs in an inning this season, including a high of 12 runs in the third inning on March 31st vs. Indiana State. The 12-run inning is tied for 19th in NCAA history for runs scored in an inning. Creighton’s 17-run inning vs. College of Saint Mary’s (Neb.) on Feb. 9, 2000, is the school record, and was also done in the third inning.
Offensive Bounce Back: The Bluejays are hitting .299 as a team, a mark that would rank third in school history if the season ended today, and is the highest mark by a Creighton team since the 1993 team hit .315.
CU scored 184 runs in 53 games in 2011, an average of 3.5 per game. This year the Bluejays have already scored 240 runs in 39 games, an average of 6.2 runs per game (third-highest average in school history).
CU’s slugging percentage of .472 is up 104 points from last year’s .368. Creighton’s on-base percentage of .394 currently ranks as second-best in school history, just behind the 1990’s team-record .398 on-base percentage.
Walk this Way: Sophomore Alexis Cantu leads the MVC with 11 home runs, and also leads the MVC and ranks eighth in the NCAA with 35 walks this season. Cantu has walked (35) more this year than she has struck out (28) and is five free passes shy of tying Michelle Graner’s single-season walks record, set in 2010.
• Junior Amy Baker ranks second on the team with 26 walks, compared to only 18 strikeouts. Baker, a junior, has already walked 69 times in her career, tied for fifth in CU history.
Doubling Up: Last year Creighton managed to hit only 25 doubles in 53 games, its lowest total since 1992. This season the Bluejays have already smacked 45 doubles in 39 games. Junior Amy Baker leads the team with seven two-baggers after she hit just one double as a sophomore – in the 52nd of 53 games.
Tripling Up: Not only are doubles up for Creighton this year, but triples are also up. The Bluejays have eight triples this year, more than in any of its previous three full seasons. Senior outfielder Christa Ruf and freshman shortstop Liz Dike each have two triples to lead the Bluejays this year.
Hot Start: Creighton jumped out to a 7-0 start this season for its best start to a season since 1987. The 1987 team opened the year with 10 straight wins to set a school record, while the seven straight wins to open the year marked the best start to a season under head coach Brent Vigness. The Bluejays opened the year with an 18-0 win at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, setting a CU record for the largest victory margin in a game.
Record-Tying Game: In one of Creighton’s high-scoring games this season, the Bluejays tied a school record. The Jays topped Howard 19-4 on March 4 in Tempe, Ariz., tying the school record with 22 hits in the lopsided win. The 19 runs rank second in school history, just one shy of the 20 runs scored against the College of Saint Mary (Neb.) on Feb. 9, 2000.
No Tying in Softball?: Creighton played to just the third tie in program history when its April 3rd game at South Dakota State was halted after nine innings due to darkness with the score knotted at 1-1. Creighton’s previous ties came in 2004 at Kansas (darkness) and in 2007 vs. Illinois State (rain after five innings). Creighton would go on to win the MVC Tournament in both 2004 and 2007.
Call From The Hall: Creighton great Jody Schwartz Longballa was inducted into Creighton’s Athletic Hall of Fame on April 9th.
Playing under her maiden name Jody Schwartz, she was named a first-team All-American as a senior in 1988, when she hit .340 with 10 doubles, four home runs and 36 RBI to go with a .989 fielding percentage. She was also 10-5 in the circle with a 1.14 ERA and 12 complete games in 17 starts.
She twice led the team in home runs and slugging percentage, and led the team in total bases three times. She finished her years at Creighton as the Bluejays’ career leader with 36 doubles, 113 RBI and 78 walks in a school-record 222 games played, all of which still rank in the Bluejay top-10.
Creighton went 151-71 in her four seasons, including a fifth-place finish in the 1986 Women’s College World Series, and the 1988 squad began a run of three straight trips to the NCAA Regionals.