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The Bluejays host first-place DePaul beginning with a Friday doubleheader slated for noon at the CU Sports Complex.
Courtesy: Steven Branscombe

Softball Hosts BIG EAST Leader DePaul this Weekend

On Deck: The Creighton softball team hosts BIG EAST leader DePaul at home this holiday weekend for a three-game series beginning with a doubleheader with the Blue Demons slated to begin at 12:00 p.m. CT at the CU Sports Complex on Friday.

Creighton (25-16, 6-5 BIG EAST) currently stands alone in fourth place in the BIG EAST just one-half game behind second-place Georgetown. The Bluejays return home after a road trip to Seton Hall. CU won impressively in game one 12-0 in five innings, but the Pirates swept the final two contests to take the series.

DePaul (30-8, 10-0 BIG EAST) remains undefeated in the BIG EAST after sweeping three games at home against Georgetown last weekend. After a midweek 5-3 win at Illinois of the Big Ten on Wednesday, DePaul visits Omaha for the first time since 1993 when the Blue Demons played in the Creighton – OSA Classic.

Fans will be able to see the top two pitchers in the BIG EAST this weekend. Kirsten Verdun, the Blue Demons’ ace, will face a league opponent on the road for just the second time this season. The senior is 21-5 in all games with a 1.79 ERA in 2014. The Bluejays are led by Becca Changstrom stands 14-9 overall with a 1.49 ERA this season. The duo has combined to claim five of the 10 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week certificates this season and boast nearly 400 strikeouts between the two of them.

The Blue Demons have won 12 consecutive games coming into the week including a 4-2 win over then-No. 23 Notre Dame on April 4. DePaul is receiving votes in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Top 25 Poll this week.

Creighton leads the all-time series with DePaul 5-4, but the Blue Demons have won each of the last three contests with the Jays. The teams last met in the 2010 NCAA Regional at Missouri. CU led DePaul 2-1 in the seventh but the Blue Demons tied the game in the bottom of the seventh and won on a bases loaded fielder's choice in the ninth inning.

The Jays and Blue Demons share four common opponents this season. DePaul lost to Texas Tech on March 14 while CU split two games with the Red Raiders this year. DePaul swept three games from both second-place Georgetown and third-place Seton Hall at home this year while GU swept Creighton in Omaha and the Jays went 1-2 at SHU last weekend. On Wednesday, DePaul beat Illinois 5-3 on the road while CU fell to the Fighting Illini in February.

Following the Jays:  Live stats and live video links for this weekend can be found on the softball schedule page of GoCreighton.com. Fans can also keep in touch with Creighton softball by following the Jays on Twitter - @BluejaySoftball and liking the Jays on Facebook.com/CreightonSoftball.

Last Time Out: Creighton broke open game one at Seton Hall last Saturday by scoring six runs in the top of the fourth to make it a 10-0 advantage over SHU. For the second consecutive game, senior Alexis Cantu and junior Bri Lingl hit back-to-back home runs at the plate to lead the Jays offense. Another Cantu homer in the top of the fifth capped the win.

Cantu led the Creighton offense with two homers and five RBI while junior Liz Dike added two hits including a homer and three RBI. Seven Jays posted a hit in the game and five registered an RBI. In the circle, senior Becca Changstrom maintained her solid numbers this year giving up just five hits while striking out eight Pirates.

In game two, Seton Hall jumped out to an early lead and later extended it to 5-0 after four. The Bluejays came back with three runs in the fifth and sixth frames to cut the lead to 5-3 sparked by Cantu’s third round tripper of the day and Dike’s second homer of the series. Creighton loaded the bases in the top of the seventh but could not bring a run across as SHU held on for the win.

In the rubber match, senior Becca Changstrom allowed just one unearned run on one hit to host Seton Hall on Sunday but the Pirates gave up just two hits to the Jays in a pitchers’ duel as SHU edged CU 1-0.

Creighton managed just a pair of singles from senior Ellen Homan and freshman Jen Daro. In the circle, Changstrom maintained her solid numbers this year giving up just a run on two hits while striking out seven Pirates to eclipse 200 K’s for the second straight season at 204.

SHU made the most of its one hit and a Creighton error to open the bottom of the third inning to score the game’s lone run.

Scouting Creighton (25-16, 6-5 BIG EAST): The Bluejays return home having won six of their last eight contests entering the weekend against BIG EAST leader DePaul.

The Bluejays are 6-3 at home this season including a 3-3 BIG EAST record in Omaha. Georgetown swept CU at the end of March before the Jays swept Villanova earlier this month.

Last week, senior Alexis Cantu launched five home runs in four straight games against South Dakota State and at Seton Hall last week, including a pair in the opener at SHU, to collect 10 RBI and produce a slugging percentage of 1.500.  Cantu's six hits, four walks, 21 total bases, on-base percentage (.556) and .429 average (6-of-10) led the Jays to a 3-2 record on the week.

Cantu is ranked second in the BIG EAST for walks (31). She also is tied for fourth in home runs (8) and stands fifth for on-base percentage (.450) in the league. Her 2.44 ERA in the circle is fifth in the conference.

Senior Ellen Homan continues to lead the Creighton offense this spring. She currently leads the team and is No. 11 in the BIG EAST with a .327 clip at the plate.

Junior Liz Dike currently leads the BIG EAST in home runs (12) and is tied for second in RBI (31). She also is tied for third in runs scored (26) and stands fourth for total bases (75) in the league.

Five Creighton players who have notched at least 100 at-bats in 2014 are hitting .240 or better including Homan (.327), Cantu (.280), senior Blair Lowe (.248), Dike (.246) and junior Bri Lingl (.244). CU ranks sixth in the BIG EAST with a .229 team batting average. The Jays’ 34 home runs rank in a tie for first in the conference and their 126 RBI total stands third in the league.

Senior Becca Changstrom started two games last week and posted a 0.00 ERA with a pair of complete games last week at Seton Hall. Through 11 innings of work she allowed did not allow a runs to score, allowed just six hits and struck out 15 Pirates.

Changstrom eclipsed 200 strikeouts for the second straight season in Omaha. She currently stands at 204 K’s and move into ninth all-time at Creighton. Changstrom’s career-high total of 254 strikeouts last season ranks seventh all-time at Creighton.

She currently ranks No. 12 nationally for strikeouts. Remarkably, her total of 204 K’s this season are more than three of the seven other BIG EAST pitching staff team totals for strikeouts in 2014.

In the circle, CU senior starting pitchers Changstrom and Alexis Cantu are among the top five in the BIG EAST ERA standings. Changstrom leads the conference with a 1.49 ERA while Cantu boasts a 2.44 ERA. As a staff, the Jays lead the conference with a 2.08 ERA and 294 strikeouts.

Changstrom currently leads the BIG EAST in ERA (1.49), complete games (20), shutouts (8) and ranks second in K’s (204).

Scouting DePaul (30-8, 10-0 BIG EAST): The first-place Blue Demons enter this weekend undefeated in BIG EAST action and winners of their last 12 contests.

With a 7-4 record in true away games this year, half of DePaul’s setbacks this season occurred on the road. The Blue Demons won at Illinois on Wednesday 5-3 after completing a three-game sweep of second-place Georgetown at home last weekend to cushion their lead in the league standings.

DePaul also has BIG EAST series wins over Providence and Seton Hall in 2014. The Blue Demons are 21-0 when holding opponents to two or less runs and have outscored opponents 55-16 in the first inning this year.

DePaul finished the 2013 campaign with the best record of returning BIG EAST squads at 32-21 overall and 16-6 in the BIG EAST to claim a fourth-place league finish. The Blue Demons have appeared in 17 of the last 19 NCAA Tournaments.

At the plate DePaul is hitting .315 as a team. Three regular Blue Demon starters are hitting .330 or better at the plate in 2014 including Mary Connolly, (.435), Kirsten Verdun (.365) and Micah Fitzgerald (.340).

Connolly leads the team with 47 hits, 32 RBI and 10 homers. Verdun’s 27 walks are tops on DePaul as are her five homers and 38 hits.

In the circle, Verdun has 25 starts in 29 appearances and owns a 1.79 ERA while registering 195 strikeouts and boasting a 21-5 record. Connolly has logged eight starts and 11 appearances. She carries a 2.26 ERA with a 4-2 mark and 28 K’s this year.

Creighton Head Coach Brent Vigness: The winningest coach in Creighton athletics history, Brent Vigness enters his 21st season at the helm of one of the most successful softball programs in the Midwest. After 20 seasons in the Missouri Valley Conference, Vigness leads Creighton into its inaugural BIG EAST campaign this year. A four-time MVC Coach of the Year, he has led the Bluejays to seven MVC regular-season titles (1998-2000, 2007-09, 2013), 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 2013, 2008 and 2007.

Vigness coached his 1,000th game at Creighton and recorded his 600th win at CU in 2012.

Creighton and the NCAA RPI: Creighton currently stand at No. 112 out of 293 squads in the NCAA ratings percentage index (RPI) compiled on Monday.

The Bluejays are 7-7 this season against teams ranked ahead of them in the latest calculations.

On opening day, CU dropped an 11-2 decision to No. 72 San Jose State and a 3-0 game at No. 10 Arizona State at the Sun Devils’ Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Jays concluded the Classic with a 4-0 win over No. 95 Boise State and a 6-4 victory over No.  52 California.

The Bluejays split with No. 56 Texas Tech at the UTA Hilton Invitational. CU dropped a 7-3 decision before bouncing back for a 1-0 walk-off victory against the Red Raiders the next day. CU dropped a 9-1 contest to No. 60 Illinois to end the tourney.

Creighton dropped a pair of contests to No. 20 Tulsa at the Tulsa Invitational on Feb. 28 by scores of 3-0 and 8-0.

CU has won three straight against similarly ranked RPI squads. At the Rebel Spring Games in February, the Bluejays blanked No. 90 South Dakota twice by scores of 1-0 and 2-0. CU also topped No. 111 Albany 7-1 at the Games.

More recently, the Jays knocked off No. 80 Wichita State 1-0 in their home opener on March 19. Later the Jays dropped a 5-2 contest at No. 13 Nebraska on Apr. 2.

DePaul stands at No. 41 this week.

Bluejays’ NCAA Rankings this Week: Creighton ranks No. 29 in the country with a 2.11 team earned run average in the latest NCAA weekly statistical rankings released April 7.

The Bluejays stand at No. 73 nationally in win-loss percentage, rank No. 78 in home runs per game and rate No. 95 in fielding percentage at .962.

Individually, senior pitcher Becca Changstrom’s 204 strikeouts this year ranks No. 12 in the country while her eight shutouts this season are good for No. 8 nationally. Her average of 9.0 strikeouts per seven innings stands at No. 20 in the NCAA while her 1.49 ERA ranks No. 29 nationally.

Junior shortstop Liz Dike’s 12 home runs ranks at No. 24 in the nation.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Senior Alexis Cantu continues to attract to pitches this season to add to her career hit by pitch total at Creighton.

Last season she set the Creighton single-season mark for being hit by a pitch in 15 plate appearances after taking eight hurls to the body during her first year in Omaha.

This season Cantu has reached first five more times by an HBP to push her career total to 28. She currently ranks second all-time in the CU career record books for the marks behind former Bluejay Michelle Graner (2007-10) who holds the top mark of 34.

Bye-Bye Softball: The Jays have hit 13 homers in their last eight contests including game-winners in each of game of the Villanova series.

Creighton has drilled a home run in 34 through 41 contests, including nine multi-homer games. Junior Liz Dike hit five homers of her own from March 19-22 to earn BIG EAST Player of the Week honors.

Six Bluejays have hit multiple home runs this season led by Dike’s league-leading total of 12. Joining Dike with more than two homers in 2014 are senior Alexis Cantu (8), junior Bri Lingl (5) and senior Ellen Homan (3) Two others own a pair of home runs in sophomore Blake Ringle and freshman Jen Daro. Senior Blair Lowe and freshman Allie Reinhart each posted their first home runs of the year for game-winning runs against Villanova Apr. 5-6.

South Dakota State Series Recap: Creighton claimed game one of a midweek doubleheader over South Dakota State by exploding for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to secure a 10-2 run-rule victory on Apr. 8.

In the nightcap, back-to-back home runs from senior Alexis Cantu and Bri Lingl provided the difference in the first inning to give the Jays a 3-0 win and achieve the sweep. Both players also hit a round tripper in game one.

CU’s Lingl led the offense with four hits and four RBI while Cantu added three hits and three RBI. Seven Jays posted a hit on the day and five registered an RBI.

In the circle, the Creighton pitching staff of Cantu, junior Mac Millspaugh and senior Brittany Telecky held the Jackrabbits to just four hits over the twin bill.

 

Changstrom Collects Third BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week Award of 2014

Senior Becca Changstrom collected her third BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week Award of the season the league office announced April 7.

Changstrom turned in one of her best performances of the season during the week going 2-1 at No. 20 Nebraska and against Villanova, finishing with a 0.90 ERA in 23.1 innings of work.

She was dominant against VU, shutting out the Wildcats for 17.1 scoreless innings -once as a starter and once in over 10 innings of relief - over a marathon Saturday doubleheader while striking out 26 batters on the day. Changstrom claimed two wins for her efforts and set a career high of 16 K's in game two of the series.

Earlier in the week she started at No. 20 Nebraska and held the Huskers to just three earned runs and struck out six to give her a weekly strikeout total to 32.

           

Marathon Game Two of Villanova Series Makes CU Record Books: Creighton’s 16-inning game two marathon versus Villanova on April 5, was the longest Creighton softball game length in innings since head coach Brent Vigness’ first year as coach in 1994 when the Bluejays fell 7-4 at Iowa State in Ames on April 6, also in 16 innings. Those games rank in a tie for fourth all-time in CU history. The Jays dropped a 3-2 contest at Kansas on April 26, 1989 in 19 frames.

Atop the CU record books is the NCAA-record setting Western Athletic Conference Tournament game between Creighton and Utah held in Omaha on May 11, 1991 that lasted 31 innings before the Jays claimed a 1-0 victory. That game still remains the longest in NCAA softball history for at-bats (114), innings (31) and in time elapsed.

At No. 2 all-time for CU and NCAA is the WAC Championship game played between the Utes and Jays the following day on May 12, 1991 that lasted 25 innings before Utah edged Creighton 4-3.

Villanova Series Recap: A Bluejay home run clinched each of the three Creighton victories over Villanova in a series sweep of the Wildcats Apr. 5-6.

A solo homer from senior Blair Lowe was the difference in a 1-0 game one. In the 16-inning game two nightcap it was senior Alexis Cantu’s game-winning, two-out, two-run bomb down the right field line to claim a 6-4 walk-off decision. In the Sunday finale, freshman Allie Reinhart smacked her first career home run to bring in a trio of runs and give CU a 3-1 victory.

On Saturday seniors Ellen Homan and Blair Lowe hit back-to-back RBI doubles to put CU up 4-2 providing all of the RBI in game two. Cantu, Lowe and Homan combined for 11 of the Jays’ 20 hits on the weekend. Junior Bri Lingl added four of her own on offense.

In the circle, senior Becca Changstrom claimed two wins in the series. She held Villanova to four hits in game one for a complete-game shutout while striking out 10 Wildcats. In game two, Changstrom came in as the Jays’ third hurler but pitched 10 innings, yielding just six hits and striking out a career-high 16 more VU batters to total 26 in the twin bill. Changstrom finished the twin bill with a 0.00 ERA and gave up just one walk through 17.1 innings of work.

 

No. 20 Nebraska Game One Recap: Creighton fell 5-2 to No. 20 Nebraska at the Cornhuskers’ Bowlin Stadium April 2.

CU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead but could not hold on, spreading five hits across the game. Sophomore Kelsey Allender connected on two hits and picked up an RBI, as did classmate Blake Ringle. No. 20 Nebraska tied the game early then held on for the home win.

The bats awoke for the Huskers in the bottom of the third frame.  After a short fly out to left, NU posted an RBI single to score a run before another was thrown out at the plate to knot the game at 1-1 after three. Nebraska then scored two unearned in the bottom of the fifth to take control of the game 3-1.

Creighton closed back to within one run in the top of the sixth, thanks an Allender RBI single through the left side to cut the NU lead to 3-2 but the Cornhuskers added two in the bottom of the frame for the 5-2 victory.

Marching into Spring: Creighton finished the month of March with a 15-5 record this year. The Jays closed out the month on a three-game losing streak to Georgetown that snapped a mid-month 10-game, season-best win streak.  

Last season the Bluejays finished 14-5 compared to a 9-10 mark in the third month of 2012.

 

Georgetown Series Recap: The Creighton softball team suffered a 6-1 setback to BIG EAST foe Georgetown in the series finale of a three-game series held at the CU Sports Complex March 30.

Creighton fell behind early to Georgetown in the game and could not recover. As a result the visiting Hoyas earned a three-game road sweep in conference play to take over first place in the conference.

Junior Bri Lingl led the Jays with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth for Creighton’s only run of the final game. Sophomore Kelsey Allender added a pair of bunt singles for CU.

On March 29, the Jays dropped a doubleheader to the Hoyas by scores of 5-2 and 6-3 at the CU Sports Complex. Creighton could not overcome late runs scored by Georgetown in the twin bill.  The Jays led in both contests but the Hoyas rallied twice for the wins.

CU senior Ellen Homan led the offense for the Bluejays with three hits, two RBI and her third home run of the year on the day. Junior Liz Dike added two hits and sophomore Blake Ringle belted her second homer of the year to pick up a pair of RBI.

Creighton’s senior pitching staff of Becca Changstrom, Alexis Cantu and Brittany Telecky combined for 16 strikeouts from the circle but allowed 14 earned runs to Georgetown on the weekend.

Drake Game Recap: Creighton defeated former conference foe Drake 4-2 in eight innings in a single game at the Bulldogs’ Buel Field on March 26.

CU won its tenth straight contest heading into their BIG EAST home-opening series against Georgetown.  Senior Becca Changstrom struck out eight and held Drake to just four hits in the contest to improve to 11-5 after the complete-game win.

After the Bluejays jumped out to an early 2-0 lead battled back with two in the bottom of the fourth to knot the game at 2-2 and eventually send it into extra innings.

CU posted seven hits from seven different batters to secure the win. Senior Ellen Homan continued her hot bat at the plate with two RBI in the game. Sophomore Kelsey Allender secured the game winning run in the top of the eighth with an RBI single to right field.

Changstrom and Dike Sweep BIG EAST Softball Honors: Creighton softball senior Becca Changstrom and junior Liz Dike swept the BIG EAST Softball weekly honors as Changstrom was the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week and Dike claimed the BIG EAST Player of the week on March 24.

The award was the first for Dike while Changstrom earned the award for the second straight week from the BIG EAST. Previously, the two had combined for four league honor roll appearances from the conference in 2014.

From March 19-22, Dike was 6-of-9 from the plate for a .667 average in a 3-0 week for the Bluejays, which included a mid-week win over Wichita State and a Saturday sweep of league foe Butler. She belted a BIG EAST weekly-best five home runs and 10 RBI, showing a 2.333 slugging percentage. Dike provided the game-winning RBI in all three of Creighton’s wins last week, a solo shot to give the Bluejays’ a 2-1 lead in the second inning against the Shockers, a solo home run in the fourth in the opener at Butler and a three-run blast in the first inning of the second game.

Changstrom earned complete game victories on Wednesday in Creighton's home opener against Wichita State (2-1) and Saturday against Butler (6-0) in the Bluejays’ BIG EAST Conference debut. Over the two-game span, she combined for 14 innings pitched and 27 strikeouts, with her 14 K’s against the Bulldogs being the most in league play this season and one shy of the overall season high.

Butler Series Recap: Liz Dike blasted four home runs and accounted for nine RBI as Creighton opened BIG EAST play with a doubleheader sweep of Butler, 6-0 and 10-0 (6) on March 22.

Dike opened the scoring in the top of the fourth inning with a leadoff home run over the left field wall, her seventh of the season. 

That was all the offense that senior Becca Changstrom would need as she held Butler to just four hits in a complete game, seven-inning, effort.  Changstrom moved to 10-5 on the season, recording 14 strikeouts and walking just two.

Dike was far from done, belting a three-run shot to center in the fifth and drawing a walk in the sixth. Designated player Blake Ringle added a two-run single in the sixth to cap Creighton's scoring.

Creighton continued to mash from the opening pitch of the second game as Ellen Homan led off game number two with a single to center.  Blair Lowe followed with a bunt single and Dike made the Bulldogs pay with her tenth long ball of the season, depositing another one over the center field wall.

The Bluejays tacked on two runs in the second, one in the third to build a 6-0 lead.  In the top of the sixth Creighton delivered crushing back-to-back-to-back home runs.  With one-out in the frame Lowe worked a base on balls.  Dike smashed home run number 10, once again to center.  Alexis Cantu and Blake Ringle liked what they saw so much, each opted for the same result hitting solo home runs to center.

In the circle Cantu was superb, holding Butler to three hits in six innings to move to 4-3 on the year.

Wichita State Game Recap: Powered by solo home runs from Ellen Homan and Liz Dike, Creighton defeated Wichita State, 2-1, in the Bluejays home opener on Wednesday, March 19.

The tone of the game was set in the first inning as senior Becca Changstrom struck out the side in the top of the first, then Homan hit the first pitch of the Creighton half over the right field wall to give the Bluejays a 1-0 lead.

Dike doubled the Bluejay edge with a towering shot over the left-center field wall with one down in the second.  It was Dike's sixth bomb, and Homan’s second long ball of the season.

That was all the offense Changstrom would need as she limited Wichita State to three hits and one walk in a complete game to move to 9-5 on the season. Changstrom surrendered an unearned run in the fourth and stranded a runner at third with one down in the fifth but otherwise cruised.

Changstrom Earns BIG EAST Pitching Honor: Creighton senior Becca Changstrom earned her first BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week honor on March 17.

In four appearances at the Rebel Spring Games, Changstrom went 3-0, putting in 23.0 innings of work. The senior hurled the first Bluejay no-hitter since 2011 with her seven-inning, 11-strikeout showing against Army on March 14. Changstrom recorded double-digit strikeouts in three-of-four appearances last weekend, boasting a 0.30 ERA and allowing just one extra-base hit.

Rebel Spring Games Recap: The Bluejays went 11-1 at the 2014 Rebel Spring Games March 9-15. The wins increased Creighton’s all-time record at the tourney to 60-10 (.857) in seven appearances at the Florida tourney all under current head coach Brent Vigness.

The Bluejays shut out seven opponents (Manhattan, Indiana State, Saint Peter’s, Howard, Army and South Dakota twice) over the six-day span. The Jays’ one downfall occurred March 11 in a 4-1 loss to Utah Valley.

February Finishes: The Bluejays finished the month of February with a disappointing 4-8 ledger. The mark snapped seven straight seasons that head coach Brent Vigness had directed the Bluejays to a winning record in the first month of the season.

Creighton finished the month of February in 2013 with a 5-4 record.

The Bluejays are 50-32 in February spanning the last eight seasons to the beginning of 2007.

Tulsa Invitational Recap: The Bluejays dropped three tough games at the nationally ranked Golden Hurricane’s Tulsa Invitational Feb. 28-March 1. Then No. 21 Tulsa swept the Bluejays in a doubleheader on Feb. 28 by scores of 3-0 and 8-0 (6).

The Bluejays then lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Northwestern State in eight innings to open the month of March.

Senior Blair Lowe led the Jays’ offense with four hits on the weekend. The CU senior pitcher staff combined for 22 strikeouts on the weekend despite the rough outing.

UTA Hilton Invitational Recap: The Bluejays went 1-4 at the UTA Hilton Invitational in Arlington, Texas on Feb. 21-23.

The Bluejays split a pair of games with Texas Tech of the Big 12 in the first two days of the tourney. CU dropped a 7-3 decision in the tourney opener before a walk-off 1-0 win a day later.

Creighton dropped both games against host UTA by margins of 8-0 (5) and 6-5 in the same span.

The Jays fell 9-1 to Illinois of the Big Ten in their tournament finale.

CU senior Alexis Cantu returned to her former school to lead the Jays’ offense with four hits, three RBI and a home run. Senior Blair Lowe also added four hits on the weekend.

Cantu was also solid in the circle to lead the Jays with a 1.91 ERA and a 1-1 record.

Kajikawa Classic Recap: Creighton opened 2014 at the Kajikawa Classic Feb. 6-8.

After an opening-day doubleheader loss to a pair of NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago in San Jose State (11-2) and at then-No. 7 Arizona State (3-0), the Jays closed out the tourney with three straight wins.

The Jays collected double-bagel wins over Western Michigan (9-0 (5)) and Boise State (4-0), leading to even its record to 2-2 on day two.

Creighton saved the best for last as the Bluejays upset then-No. 24 California 6-4 in their tournament finale. It marked CU’s first win over a ranked foe since last March 2 when the Jays upended then-No. 21 Tulsa 4-3 in extra innings at the UTA Maverick Invitational for its first win over a ranked team since February 2010.

The Bluejays are 8-8 all-time at the Kajikawa Classic following a 2-3 record last season and a 3-3 ledger at Tempe in 2010.

Changstrom Named Candidate for Senior Class Award: Creighton senior pitcher Becca Changstrom was named one of 30 softball players in the NCAA to be selected as a candidate for the Senior Class Award on Feb. 20.

 

Heading into the season, the top pitcher in the Bluejay rotation in each of her four seasons in Omaha, Changstrom has a combined record of 59-34 in 103 appearances.  The 2013 NFCA All-Midwest Region Second Team selection was the 2013 MVC Pitcher of the Year as well as a member of the 2013 All-MVC First Team. 

Changstrom boasts a 3.79 GPA in chemistry. After graduation this spring, she plans on pursuing a Master's degree in Physical Therapy at Creighton.  A member of the 2013 CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team, she was also a 2013 CoSIDA Academic All-District VII First Teamer.

Over her first three years at Creighton, Changstrom logged over 80 hours of community service in Omaha including working with the Special Olympics, Salvation Army and Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Thirty NCAA® softball student-athletes who excel both on and off the field were selected as candidates today for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate softball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The 2014 candidate class includes 13 student-athletes who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Four were named to the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-American team, and nine were members of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America team in 2013.

 

Season-Opening Salvo: The Bluejays’ season-opening loss to San Jose State snapped Creighton’s three-year opening-day win streak of 2011-13. That 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 19-19 overall in season-opening contests including an 11-10 record under head coach Brent Vigness.

Preseason Predictions: Creighton was picked to finish second overall in its inaugural BIG EAST season, the league office announced Feb. 5.

Creighton received two first-place votes and collected 44 points, just behind DePaul who amassed 48 points and accounted for the remaining six first-place votes.

While none of the eight conference teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, DePaul finished with the best record of returning squads at 32-21 overall and 16-6 in the BIG EAST to claim a fourth-place league finish a year ago. The Blue Demons have appeared in 17 of the last 19 NCAA Tournaments.

The Bluejays won the 2013 MVC regular season title and finished with a 29-18 record overall and a 15-7 mark in conference. The Bluejays were picked fourth in the preseason.

The second-place prediction is the highest preseason ranking for Creighton since 2010 when they were picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference. Creighton has finished lower than fourth in conference regular season standings just three times in the past 16 seasons.

Recapping 2013:  The Bluejays return 13 players from last season's team that compiled a 29-18 overall record and finished first in the MVC at 15-7 to claim the regular season title.

Senior Becca Changstrom leads the Jays in the circle this year after claiming MVC Pitcher of the Year honors last season. At the plate CU returns three 2013 All-MVC selections including seniors Ellen Homan, Blair Lowe and junior Liz Dike.

After guiding the Jays to a regular-season Valley crown, CU head coach Brent Vigness garnered his fourth MVC Coach of the Year honor. He has led the Bluejays to seven MVC regular-season titles (1998-2000, 2007-09, 2013), six Valley tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010) and seven NCAA regional appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010) during his 20 yea years in the dugout.

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Softball
SB: DePaul at Creighton (4/18/14)
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Softball
Creighton meets Villanova in a 16 inning thriller on the softball diamond.
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