First-Place Creighton Hosts Second-Place Drake in Wednesday Twin Bill
The teams are currently scheduled to complete the three-game series with a single game in Des Moines on Tuesday, April 30.
Creighton (24-11, 10-2 MVC) matched its season-long win streak of five games after a three-game road sweep at Indiana State last weekend. As a result, the Bluejays are perched atop the Valley standings at 10-2 and will host the three teams chasing them atop the standings over the next six days.
CU is 1.5 games ahead of Drake (23-16, 9-4 MVC) in the conference standings. The Jays are 3.5 games ahead of third-place Illinois State who they host in a twin bill on Monday after entertaining fourth-place Southern Illinois this weekend, who also trail CU by 3.5 games.
Drake enters the doubleheader after taking two out of three games at home against MVC Preseason co-favorite Illinois State. The Bulldogs are just 4-9 in true road games this season including a 3-2 mark in MVC road contests. DU has won four of its last six games with all four wins coming at home in Des Moines.
The teams share five common opponents this year. Both teams won MVC series against Evansville and Indiana State suffering just a single loss. Creighton also swept a three-game series against UNI in the Valley while DU beat the Panthers in a single contest during the season-opening weekend. Both squads lost games to nationally ranked teams in Florida and Nebraska during non-conference play this year.
After claiming the MVC career home run record outright two weeks ago, Creighton senior Amy Baker capped last weekend by setting the Valley RBI record. With 162 career runs batted in, Baker is the current career leader in the conference for RBI.
Following the Jays: Live stats links for the game can be found on the softball schedule page of GoCreighton.com. Fans can also keep in touch with Creighton softball on Twitter - @BluejaySoftball and Facebook - www.facebook.com/CreightonSoftball.
Last Time Out: For the first time since 2005, Creighton posted a road sweep at Indiana State. The Bluejays won game one of a doubleheader 3-1 before dominating the nightcap with a 16-5 victory in five frames Saturday. CU closed the series with a 9-1 victory in six innings on Sunday.
The Jays outscored ISU 28-7 and out-hit the Sycamores 33-15 on the weekend. Six Bluejays hit .400 or better over the three-game series. CU players batted .393 at the plate and finished the weekend with a .798 slugging percentage.
Creighton hit seven homers on the weekend including a pair from senior Amy Baker and two from junior Blair Lowe. Coming into the weekend, Lowe boasted one career home run, but hit two homers out of the Sycamores’ Price Field. Lowe and sophomore Liz Dike finished the weekend with a .636 average at the dish with 7-of-11 efforts.
In the circle, juniors Becca Changstrom and Alexis Cantu combined for three complete-game victories. Changstrom won games one and three for the Jays, allowing just two earned runs while fanning 19 Sycamores on the weekend including 10 in the finale – her ninth double-digit strikeout effort this season.
Scouting Creighton (24-11, 10-2 MVC): After posting a sweep at Indiana State last weekend, Creighton has won 11 of its last 14 games dating back to March 12. The Bluejays are 5-2 at home this year, heading into a seven-game homestand over the next six days.
CU has won each of its first four MVC series resulting in a 10-2 record for first place in the MVC and a 24-11 record overall.
Junior Blair Lowe recorded a stellar performance at the last weekend. Lowe came into the weekend with one career homer but hit two out of Price Field at ISU as she posted a .636 average at the plate on 7-of-11 hitting that also included two doubles.
She capitalized on batting in the leadoff position in all three games last weekend after batting at the top of the lineup just twice earlier this season. Lowe's 15 total bases and slugging percentage of 1.364 led the team against the Sycamores.
With six RBI on the weekend, senior Amy Baker increased her career total to 162 and eclipsed the Valley career RBI record of 157 held by Heather Stella of Illinois State (1996-99). Another Redbird also surpassed the old record on the weekend, Illinois State senior Elizabeth Kay trails Baker by three with 159 career runs batted in.
Lowe owns nine hits over the last five games for Creighton while sophomore Liz Dike boasts eight and Baker claims seven including three homers.
Four Bluejays have reached base in all seven home games this season. Besides Baker’s 33-contest streak, junior Blair Lowe has reached safely in the last 11 contests. Sophomore Bri Lingl and junior Alexis Cantu have reached base in consecutive streaks of 10 and nine games, respectively.
Three Creighton players have started all 32 games and are hitting .300 or better in 2013 including Baker (.416), Dike (.340) and Lowe (.337). Creighton ranks fifth in the Valley with a .268 batting average. The Jays’ 39 home runs and .463 slugging percentage are tops in the MVC.
In the circle, CU junior pitchers Becca Changstrom and Alexis Cantu are among the top three in the Valley ERA standings. Changstrom leads the MVC with a 1.48 ERA while Cantu boasts a 2.37 ERA. As a staff, the Jays lead the conference with a 2.11 ERA and 246 strikeouts.
Changstrom leads the Valley in ERA (1.48), strikeouts (185), opposing batting average (.196) and wins (17).
Scouting Drake (23-16, 9-4 MVC): DU enters the doubleheader after taking two out of three games at home against MVC Preseason co-favorite Illinois State. Drake swept a Saturday doubleheader with a 4-1 win followed by a 4-3 decision. The Bulldogs dropped the finale on Sunday 6-5.
Drake is currently in second place in the conference with a 9-4 record just 1.5 games behind CU. DU has won four of its last six games with all four wins coming at home in Des Moines.
The Bulldogs are just 4-9 in true road games this season. That record includes a 3-2 mark in MVC road contests. DU swept a doubleheader at Southern Illinois on March 16 but dropped two out of three at Missouri State March 29-30.
Drake is third in the league with a .286 team batting average. The Bulldog pitching staff trails only the Jays with a 3.18 team ERA this season. DU’s .430 slugging percentage and 31 homers are second only to CU. The Bulldogs lead the league with 461 total bases, 31 sacrifice bunts and six saves.
Three of the Bulldogs’ starters are hitting .350 or better at the plate in 2013 including Laura Brewer (.361), Amy Pierce (.358), and Nicole Randel (.352).
In the circle, Jordan Gronewold leads DU with 36 starts in 38 appearances. She carries a 3.23 ERA with a 13-7 record. Through 127.2 innings of work she has registered 75 strikeouts and 64 walks. Rebekah Schmidt has made 35 appearances but started just three times in 2013. She leads the staff with a 2.61 ERA and 112 strikeouts. Schmidt owns a 10-9 record this season.
Head Coach: The winningest coach in Creighton athletics history, Brent Vigness is in his 20th season at the helm of one of the most successful programs in the Midwest and Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). He carries a 630-439-3 record in 19-plus seasons at Creighton and boasts a 77-510-4 overall record that includes five years at Assumption College prior to beginning at CU.
A three-time MVC Coach of the Year, he has led the Bluejays to six MVC regular-season titles (1998-2000, 2007-09), six Valley tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010) and seven NCAA regional appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010). He claimed MVC Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and guided the MVC Coaching Staffs of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Vigness coached his 1,000th game at Creighton and recorded his 600th win at CU in 2012.
Creighton-Drake Series: The Bluejays lead the all-time series with the Bulldogs 56-27. Creighton has won seven of the last 10 in the series overall and have also claimed seven of the last nine games in Omaha.
Creighton took the series from Drake 2-1 last season. The teams split a doubleheader in Des Moines on April 18 as CU won 5-2 before falling 2-0 in the nightcap. The Bluejays claimed the rubber match 6-2 in Omaha on April 24.
The teams first met in 1978 when Creighton visited Drake on April 22 and suffered a 4-0 setback. The teams have met every season since 1993 when Creighton joined the MVC for softball.
Creighton against Current NFCA Top 25 Poll Squads: The Bluejays are 2-2 this season against teams currently receiving votes in the latest USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll released April 16.
This week’s No. 3 Florida squad defeated Creighton 13-3 on February 8 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Later that same day the Bluejays toppled Oregon State, receiving votes this week, 5-3.
Creighton also owns a 4-3 win in eight innings over this week’s No. 23 team, Tulsa, at the UTA Maverick Invitational on March 2.
On April 3, No. 21 Nebraska escaped with a 4-3 victory over the Bluejays at the CU Sports Complex.
Baker Ranks Among Top 10 in Three NCAA Offensive Categories: Senior Amy Baker ranks No. 5 nationally in slugging percentage (.931). She stands at No. 6 in the country for home runs per game (0.43). Baker’s season home run total of 15 is tied for No. 10 in the country this week.
Bluejays’ NCAA Rankings this Week: Creighton ranks No. 25 in the country at 1.11 home runs per game in the latest NCAA weekly statistical rankings released April 14.
The Bluejays stand at No. 35 nationally with an earned run average of 2.11. With 1.49 doubles per game, the team also rates at No. 35 in the country. The Jays’ slugging percentage of .461 ranks No. 49 in the NCAA.
Individually, junior Becca Changstrom’s average of 8.8 strikeouts per seven innings stands at No. 22 in NCAA. Her 1.48 ERA rates No. 24 nationally and her strikeout total of 185 ranks No. 25 in the country. Changstrom’s total of five shutouts in 2013 is tied for No. 32 nationally.
Baker Writes Recipe for Record-Setting Success in 2013: Senior Amy Baker’s pair of homers last weekend helped the Omaha native extend the Missouri Valley Conference home run record to a career total of 56.
Last month Baker belted career home run No. 52 to spark a come-from-behind victory at Evansville and tie the MVC career home run record held by Abby Olson of Illinois State since 2011.
MVC Career Home Runs
T1. 56 Amy Baker, CU (2010-pres.)
T1. 52 Abby Olson, ILS (2008-2011)
3. 50 Renae Sinkler, CU (2007-10)
4. 47 Amber Smith, ILS (2006-09)
Baker’s total of 15 homers this year already equals the fifth-best mark for a single season in the CU record books. That mark was recorded in 2010 during Baker’s freshman campaign.
With six RBI last weekend Baker brought her career total to 162 and eclipsed the Valley career RBI record of 157 held by Heather Stella of Illinois State (1996-99). Another Redbird also surpassed the old record last weekend as Illinois State senior Elizabeth Kay trails Baker by three at 159.
MVC Career RBI
1. 162 Amy Baker, CU (2010-pres.)
2. 159 Elizabeth Kay, ILS (2010-pres.)
3. 157 Heather Stella, ILS (1996-99)
4. 150 Amber Smith, ILS (2006-09)
5. 146 Renae Sinkler, CU (2007-10)
6. 145 Jessica Huff, UE (1998-01)
7. 144 Abby Johnson, CU (2002-05)
In 2013, Baker has already set Creighton career marks in home runs (56) and runs batted in (162).
Give the Bluejays a Lead and You May Not Get it Back: Creighton is undefeated this season when leading after the third (13-0), fourth (16-0), and sixth (13-0) innings.
The Bluejays also have impressive records with an advantage at the beginning of the game. CU is 10-1 when leading after the first frame and 12-1 when up after two innings. The Jays are 13-1 when leading after five innings.
Creighton's Magic Numbers:
· Creighton is undefeated at 18-0 this season when allowing opponents fewer than three runs.
· The Bluejays are also 18-0 when scoring four or more runs on offense in 2013.
· CU is 19-3 when scoring first this season.
· Creighton is 20-1 when posting more hits than its foes this year.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Just five weeks into the season, junior Alexis Cantu set the Creighton single-season mark for being hit by a pitch at 11. Michelle Graner held the previous CU record of 10 set in 2008.
Cantu’s hit-by-pitch per game average of 0.31 stands No. 28 in the nation.
Cantu was hit multiple times on two occasions this year. Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff she was hit three times in four plate appearances. Cantu was hit by a pitch in each game of the Jays’ series at Evansville. The Aces registered two HBP’s against Cantu in game two sandwiched between one hit-by-pitch in the games one and three.
The junior is currently on a season-long streak of 10 games without being hit by a pitch.
Baker Climbs to the Top of CU Career Record Books: Last month senior Amy Baker claimed the top spot in the all-time Creighton record books for home runs and runs batted in.
The senior’s career total of 56 homers surpassed the previous top mark of 50, set by current assistant coach Renae Sinkler in 2010. Baker has also set the Missouri Valley Conference mark.
With 162 career runs batted in, Baker recently moved past both of her assistant coaches in the rankings Abby Johnson (144) and Sinkler (146) to claim the top spot.
Baker is also among the Creighton career top 10 for batting average, total bases and walks. The Omaha native’s .416 batting average this season would currently rank fourth all-time for a single-season mark in program history.
Baker leads the Valley in home runs (15), RBI (37), total bases (94) and slugging percentage (.931).
Walk It Off in Grand Style: Amy Baker’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning against Youngstown State on March 12 secured a 6-2 win and marked the 16th time a CU player hit a walk-off blast since 2001.
The slam also marked the third straight season with a walk-off home run. In 2012
Alexis Cantu’s three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth inning vs. Missouri State on May 6 beat the Bears, 5-4.
Cantu’s first career walk-off homer was the first by any Bluejay since Sammy Snygg posted one against Bradley on April 2, 2011.
Stacey Rybar is the last Bluejay with two walk-off homers in the same season (2002), and also the last Bluejay with a walk-off homer in the MVC Tournament (May 10, 2002 vs. UNI).
Here’s a list of Creighton’s walk-off home runs since 1999:
Inn. Player vs. Opponent Date
8 Amy Baker vs. Youngstown State 3/12/13
8 Alexis Cantu vs. Missouri State 5/6/12
8 Sammy Snygg vs. Bradley 4/2/11
10 Michelle Graner vs. Wichita State 5/3/09
7 Laura Kratochvil vs. Illinois State 3/21/09
6* Sara Loeffelholz vs. Saint Joseph’s 3/6/09
10 TJ Eadus vs. Northern Iowa 3/29/08
7 Bailey Dawson vs. Texas State 2/9/08
6* Michelle Graner vs. South Dakota State 3/22/07
9 Jessica Merkel vs. Nebraska 4/14/05
6* Lauren Flores vs. Bradley 4/9/05
7# Abby Johnson at Missouri State 3/15/03
7 Stacey Rybar vs. Northern Iowa 5/10/02
8# Stacey Rybar at Bradley 5/4/02
5* Nicole Garber vs. Drake 4/23/02
10 Kari Shank vs. Northern Iowa 4/8/01
*walk-off due to run-rule;
#CU hit as home team in away game
Homer Cooking: After not hitting a home run in the first two games of 2013, Creighton jacked at least one ball over the fence in 10 consecutive contests before the streak was halted at UT Arlington for three games.
Creighton has drilled a home run in 16 of its last 20 contests, including five multi-homer games. Amy Baker and junior Blair Lowe each smashed two homers at Indiana State last weekend.
Freshman Kelsey Allender’s first career grand slam highlighted the series versus UNI on March 29. The slam was the Jays’ second of the year following Amy Baker’s walk-off grand slam against Youngstown State on March 12.
As a result, CU leads the Valley with 39 homers this season. The Bluejays rank No. 25 nationally with 1.11 home runs per game in the latest NCAA statistical rankings released April 14.
Seven Bluejays have hit multiple home runs this season led by Amy Baker’s league-leading total of 15. Joining Baker with more than one homer in 2013 is sophomore Bri Lingl (6), freshman Blake Ringle (5), junior Alexis Cantu (4) sophomore Liz Dike (3), Lowe (2) and Allender (2).
Allender hit her first career home run of an inside-the-park variety against Grambling State Feb. 24. Allender’s inside-the-park home run is the first since Dike scored two of them last season, the last against Wichita State on April 7, 2012.
Senior Sammy Snygg also rifled a shot over the wall versus then-No. 14 Florida in Creighton’s opening weekend. Junior Ellen Homan drilled a three-run homer at home against Bradley April 6.
Marching into Spring: Creighton finished the month of March with a 14-5 record this year. The Jays closed out the month on a four-game win streak and opened its home season with a three-game sweep of Northern Iowa to take over first place in the Valley.
Last season the Bluejays were finished 9-10 in the third month of 2012.
Bradley Series Recap: Creighton took two out of three games from Bradley at home April 6-7. Each game of the series was decided by just one run.
Bradley won the opener 3-2 before the Bluejays came from behind to take game two of a doubleheader 6-5 in eight innings on April 6. CU jumped out to a 3-0 lead April 7 before BU scored two in its final at-bat for a 3-2 Jays’ win.
Senior Amy Baker's pair of home runs against Bradley increased her career total to 54 homers. With 156 career runs batted in, Baker needs just one RBI this week to tie the Valley career RBI record of 157.
Day one of the series ended in dramatic fashion. Junior Ellen Homan connected on a three-run home run just over the right field wall to tie game two at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning. It marked Homan’s first home run of the season and third of her career.
In her first at-bat of the season, junior right-handed pitcher Becca Changstrom capped the come-from-behind victory with a walk-off double to right center in the bottom of the eighth inning of game two to give the Jays a 6-5 victory over BU.
Nebraska Rivalry Part One: Down 4-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Creighton softball team rallied to load the bases and put pressure on visiting No. 22 Nebraska but the Cornhuskers got out of the jam to escape with the one-run victory at the CU Sports Complex Wednesday evening.
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for Creighton (19-10) as Nebraska (26-7) dealt the Bluejays their first defeat at home this year.
Creighton jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Senior Amy Baker drew a two-out walk before junior Alexis Cantu drilled a two-run homer over the left field wall to put the Bluejays up two after one inning.
Nebraska quickly answered in the top of the second inning with back-to-back solo home runs then took the lead for good in the fifth before adding an insurance run in the seventh.
Following a leadoff walk, a double from CU sophomore Bri Lingl down the right field line put runners in scoring position with no outs. A one-out RBI single from junior Blair Lowe scored a run to cut the Husker lead to 4-3 with runners on the corners. Freshman Kelsey Allender drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases with one out on the scoreboard.
But the Huskers handled the pressure to strike out the final two Bluejay batters and escape with a 4-3 victory.
Northern Iowa Series Recap: Creighton swept a three-game series from Northern Iowa March 29-30 at the CU Sports Complex. The Bluejays swept a Friday doubleheader by scores of 4-1 and 11-1, with the second game shortened to five innings. CU clinched the Saturday finale 4-2.
Sophomore Liz Dike led the Bluejay offense last weekend with five hits versus Northern Iowa. Including a 4-for-4 effort in the finale. She recorded a triple, double and pair of singles. Freshman Kelsey Allender hit the first home run at the CU Sports Complex of 2013, and her second career homer with a grand slam in game two.
Junior Becca Changstrom remained undefeated in MVC starts at 4-0 and improved to 13-4 overall this season after registering two complete-game wins. She gave up just three earned runs on nine hits through 14 innings in the circle resulting in a 1.50 ERA. Changstrom notched her seventh double-digit strikeout performance in the opener with 11 K's.
Evansville Series Recap: Creighton senior Amy Baker capped off a record-setting week by blasting career home run No. 52 to spark a come-from-behind victory at Evansville March 16 and tie the MVC career home run record.
CU junior Becca Changstrom matched her career high of 13 K's on Friday night in a conference-opening win at Evansville. She struck out 10 Purple Aces in the series finale a day later.
The Bluejays opened the MVC season at 2-1 on the road for the third consecutive season. Creighton also went 2-1 at Evansville to begin the 2011 conference slate before the Jays earned a 2-1 split at Bradley last season.
Rebel Spring Games Recap: The Bluejays went 6-2 at the 2013 Rebel Spring Games March 9-13. The wins increased Creighton’s all-time record at the tourney to 49-9 (.845) in six appearances at the Florida tourney all under current head coach Brent Vigness.
The Bluejays shut out five opponents (Saint Francis (PA), North Dakota, Butler, Fairleigh Dickinson and Army) over the four-day span. The exception was a 6-2 victory over Youngstown State in eight innings after a walk-off grand slam from senior Amy Baker.
One CU loss was a no-hit 5-0 defeat at the hands of Eastern Illinois on March 10. Three days later Creighton dropped a 3-1 decision to Robert Morris.
UTA Maverick Invitational Recap: The Bluejays went 3-2 at the UTA Maverick Invitational in Arlington, Texas, to improve to 8-6 this season. After a pair of wins over host UTA and Lamar on March 1, CU upset then No. 21 Tulsa 4-3 in extra innings on March 2 for its first win over a ranked team since February 2010.
The Bluejays' bats struggled in the final two games of the tourney resulting in losses to Lamar and the host Mavericks. The losses snapped a five-game win streak for the Jays.
Fantastic February Finishes: Creighton finished the month of February with a 5-4 record. It marks the seventh straight season that head coach Brent Vigness has directed the Bluejays to a winning record in the first month of the season.
The Bluejays are 46-24 in February spanning those seven seasons to the beginning of 2007. CU’s 5-4 mark this season is the same record the Jays had in 2010 – the year of the program’s last NCAA Tournament appearance.
Central Arkansas Tournament Recap: The Bluejays went 3-1 at the Central Arkansas Tournament in Conway, Ark., to improve to 5-4 this season. CU’s only loss was to host UCA in its first true road game this season. Creighton outscored opponents 35-16 last weekend. The Bluejays hit .353 as a team over the four games while holding opponents to a .271 average.
The Bluejays are 8-1 all-time at tournaments hosted by Central Arkansas. Creighton went undefeated in five games at the UCA Spring Clash to open the 2007 campaign. The Jays are now 2-1 all-time against UCA with two wins in the 2007 tourney.
Kajikawa Classic Recap: Creighton opened 2013 at the Kajikawa Classic Feb. 7-9 with wins over New Mexico and Oregon State, leading to a 2-3 record. The Bluejays are 5-6 all-time at the Kajikawa Classic following a 3-3 ledger at Tempe in 2010.
Déjà Vu vs. OSU: Creighton’s win over Oregon State on Feb. 8, marked the Jays’ second-straight victory over the Beavers by the same score (5-3) in the same tournament (Kajikawa Classic) at the same location (Tempe, Ariz.), three years apart. CU is now 2-2 against the Pac-12 foe and head coach Brent Vigness is 2-1 versus OSU.
Telecky on Top against Oregon State: Brittany Telecky won her first start of the season in a 5-3 victory over Oregon State. The junior pitched 6 innings against OSU allowing just three runs on eight hits. She also came in as a relief pitcher against San Diego State for two innings, allowing no hits or runs and just one walk.
Season-Opening Salvo: The Bluejays’ season-opening win over New Mexico was Creighton’s third-straight victory to begin a season following opening-day wins in 2011 and 2012.
CU’s first-game win streak matches the longest in program history when the Jays previously won three consecutive openers from 2006-08 and 1998-2000. All three streaks were under the direction of current head coach Brent Vigness.
Creighton is 19-18 overall in season-opening contests including an 11-9 record under head coach Brent Vigness.
Preseason Predictions: The Creighton softball team placed four players on the 2013 preseason all-conference team as the league's coaches picked the Bluejays to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), the league office announced Jan. 23.
The fourth-place prediction is the highest preseason ranking for the Bluejays since 2010 when they were picked to win the Valley. Creighton has finished lower than fourth in the MVC regular season standings just three times in the past 16 seasons.
Senior catcher Amy Baker earned the second All-MVC preseason selection of her career to go with a nod from 2011 during her sophomore campaign. Additionally, three juniors claimed their first preseason honors in designated player and pitcher Alexis Cantu, pitcher Becca Changstrom and outfielder Ellen Homan. All four of the CU honorees earned All-MVC accolades after last season.
The four CU player selections match Southern Illinois for the most on the 2013 preseason squad. Additionally, the four players on the preseason all-conference team are the most for any Creighton squad dating back to 2004 when three Jays earned All-MVC preseason honors and current assistant Abby Johnson collected honorable mention recognition.
Recapping 2012: The Bluejays return 11 players from last season's team that compiled a 28-25-1 overall record and finished fifth in the MVC at 15-11. Creighton finished last season with a school-record 294 runs. CU led the MVC with a .292 batting average, 56 homers, 275 RBI and a .464 slugging percentage. The Jays ranked in the NCAA top-30 in scoring (No. 20), home runs per game (No. 22) and slugging percentage (No. 27) in 2012.