CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Seven members of the Creighton softball team picked up all-Missouri Valley Conference honors on Wednesday night at a banquet held at SIU Arena. Valley Newcomer of the Year Alexis Cantu highlighted the Bluejays' four first-team all-Valley picks, while three other women were named second-team all-MVC.
Creighton's seven overall honorees led all MVC schools, and its four first-team picks are its most since 2008.
Cantu became Creighton's second player ever named MVC Newcomer of the Year, joining Tara Oltman in 2007. A sophomore from Frisco, Texas, Cantu set MVC records with 13 homers and 34 RBI in league play, while also batting .400. On the season, she led the MVC in home runs (16), on-base percentage (.531), slugging percentage (.774) and walks (43), while also placing second in RBI (46), third in total bases (96) and sixth in batting average (.347). Cantu also was Creighton's No. 2 starter for much of the season in the circle, going 8-5 in 64.2 innings of work. The transfer from Texas-Arlington earned all-Valley acclaim as the designated player/pitcher category.
Sophomore Ellen Homan was named first-team all-MVC in the outfield after ranking second in The Valley in batting average (.376) and hits (65), fourth in runs (38) and 10th in on-base percentage (.438). She takes a career-high 11-game hitting streak into the postseason, and led all players with 35 hits in Valley action. Homan is CU's first outfielder named first-team all-Valley since Jessica Wakasugi in 2008.
Amy Baker is the first-team all-MVC catcher, returning to the first-team after earning such honors in 2010 as a designated player. Baker is CU's first catcher named first-team all-Valley since TJ Eadus in 2008. Baker ranks second on the team with 46 RBI, third with 18 two-out RBI, fourth with a .481 on-base percentage, fifth in walks (33), sacrifice flies (3) and batting average (.348) and seventh in both home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.567). Just a junior, Baker already ranks fourth in MVC history in home runs (41) and 11th in RBI (125) for a career.
Rounding out CU's first-team selections was freshman Bri Lingl, who earned the nod in the designated player/utility position. She led all MVC freshmen with nine homers and ranked in the top-10 in the MVC in home runs, slugging percentage (.594), batting average (.338) and RBI (40). In Valley play, Lingl led the league in hitting (.405) and was second with 24 RBI, a .740 slugging percentage and 54 total bases. Lingl joins Baker and Oltman as CU's only freshmen named first-team all-Valley since 2004.
Repeating a spot on the all-MVC second team is pitcher Becca Changstrom. The sophomore from Lincoln leads the Jays in every pitching category, including wins (16), ERA (2.28), appearances (32), starts (28), complete games (19), shutouts (3), innings pitched (175.1) and strikeouts (168). She ranked third in the MVC with 10 victories in league play, and has allowed just 17 earned runs in her past 16 starts.
Freshman Allie Mathewson is a second-team all-Valley pick at first base after a standout rookie season. Mathewson led CU with 43 runs and 13 stolen bases, and was second with 58 hits. She ranked seventh in the MVC in batting average (.341), third in runs, fourth in hits, and eighth in total bases (82). She owns 18 multiple-hit games.
Creighton's final honoree on Wednesday night is second baseman Blair Lowe. Lowe didn't become a regular starter until mid-April, but has taken off in recent weeks, hitting .448 in her past 10 games. Lowe ranked fifth in the league in Valley play with a .373 batting average, and ranked third by reaching base at a .615 clip when leading off an inning. Before taking over as a starter, Lowe was one of The Valley's top pinch-hitters, going 5-for-13 in that role.
Southern Illinois' Mallory Duran-Sellers was named MVC Player of the Year, while UNI's Jamie Fisher was the league's Pitcher of the Year.
Fifth-seeded Creighton opens play in the State Farm MVC Tournament beginning on Thursday at 11:05 a.m. against eighth-seeded Evansville. All games on Thursday and Friday will be video webcast free of charge by the league at http://www.valley-live.tv.
SB: Providence at Creighton (5/3/14)
SB: DePaul at Creighton (4/18/14)
Creighton meets Villanova in a 16 inning thriller on the softball diamond.