Former Bluejay standout Abby Johnson is in her ninth year on the Creighton coaching staff. The 2005 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and three-time First Team All-MVC performer works with pitchers and outfielders. She will help lead the Bluejays into the BIG EAST for their inaugural season in 2014.
Johnson was a part of the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year in 2013, leading Creighton to an MVC regular season title. She also was a part of the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year in both 2007 and 2008. Her work with the Bluejay pitching staff has been instrumental in Creighton’s multiple regular-season and tournament titles during her tenure.
Since joining the staff in 2006, the Bluejays captured more combined MVC regular-season and tournament titles than any other Valley program, with six titles in that span. Johnson helped guide the Bluejays to three straight regular-season titles from 2007 to 2009 and tournament titles in 2007 and 2010.
The Bluejays surprised some in the MVC by winning the regular-season title in 2013 after being picked fourth in the preseason poll. Despite earning a No. 1 seed, Creighton fell 1-0 to UNI in the MVC tournament semifinals after a game-opening leadoff home run that proved to be the difference. Senior Amy Baker’s record-setting year and Becca Changstrom’s strong showing in the circle led the Jays to a 29-18 overall record and 15-7 conference mark.
Baker ended her prolific four-year Bluejay career as the Creighton and MVC career leader in home runs (58) as well as RBI (167). She started every game over her final three seasons, playing primarily at catcher and first base. Baker reached base in 37 consecutive games in 2013, the most by any Jay since 1999. Changstrom attained MVC Pitcher of the Year honors after claiming the pitching triple crown with 13 wins, 133 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA in conference play. She also claimed All-MVC First Team, MVC All-Tournament Team and NFCA All-Midwest Region Second Team honors after posting a 22-9 overall record, a career-high 254 strikeouts and 1.70 ERA on the year. Sophomore Liz Dike and juniors Blair Lowe and Ellen Homan each earned All-MVC selections for the Jays.
In 2012, Creighton jumped out to its second-best start in school history by winning its first seven games before playing five contests against ranked opponents over an eight-game span. Sophomore outfielder Ellen Homan ranked second in the MVC in hitting at .370 and also rated No. 2 in hits with 67. Sophomore right-hander Becca Changstrom went 17-13 and led the team with a 2.38 ERA, 182.1 innings pitched and 177 strikeouts.
After the loss of All-American seniors Tara Oltman and Renae Sinkler, 2011 was a rebuilding year for Creighton. The team finished in sixth place at 12-12 in the MVC and posted a 25-28 overall record. Homan become the first freshman to lead Creighton in hitting since 1989 with a .308 average.
The 2010 Bluejays overcame a 2-5 MVC start to finish 18-7 in league play and sweep through the MVC Tournament for their sixth Valley postseason crown. Three-time Easton All-American pitcher Tara Oltman ended her record-setting career by becoming the first student-athlete in school history to earn first-team all-conference honors four times. She also set single-season school and MVC records with 32 wins. The Jays dropped a pair of 3-2 contests to host No. 8 Missouri and DePaul at the NCAA Regional in Columbia, Mo., to end the season.
Creighton clinched its third straight regular-season title in 2009. The Bluejays finished at 35-16 overall and ranked eighth in the NCAA with a 1.46 ERA. Despite an impressive résumé, the Bluejays were left out of the NCAA Tournament after losing the MVC Championship game. Oltman became the first three-time MVC Pitcher of the Year and the first NFCA All-American under Johnson’s tutelage.
In 2008 the Bluejays posted their fourth 40-win season in a five-year span, finishing with a 43-17 overall mark and 21-3 Valley record to claim another regular-season crown. After earning an at-large NCAA bid, the Jays suffered two 2-1 eight-inning losses to No. 18 Long Beach State and host Iowa at the NCAA Regional in Iowa City.
The 2007 Bluejays rebounded from a disappointing 2006 campaign by tearing through the MVC for their first regular-season title since 2000. Oltman and Amanda Hess anchored a staff that ranked No. 20 in the NCAA with a 1.76 ERA. The Jays dominated the MVC Tournament, toppling nationally ranked Southern Illinois in the title game to capture their fourth postseason title and NCAA bid in a five-year span. Creighton eliminated NCAA Regional host Nebraska with a 2-1 victory in Lincoln before bowing out of the tournament.
Johnson played first base and pitched for the Bluejays during her record-setting four seasons. In her first season with the Jays, she was named to the MVC First Team, leading the team with 28 RBI. The Omaha native also topped the team with a then school record 43 RBI as a junior and paced the Jays with 41 RBI in her senior season. The power hitter concluded her career as the Jays’ all-time leader with 144 career RBI and 85 career base on balls. She also ranks among school career leaders with 30 home runs and 36 doubles.
In her junior season, she not only set the school record for RBI, she notched a 13-3 record with a 1.37 earned run average in her first season as a collegiate pitcher. Her stellar ERA helped the Jays rank sixth in the NCAA with a 0.99 team ERA. In just two seasons as a hurler, she went 28-7 with a 1.48 ERA and 243 strikeouts.
During her career, she was also tabbed to the NCAA Tournament All-Regional Team, helping the Jays to a school-record three wins in NCAA postseason play in 2004. In 2005, she was named the MVC Player of the Year, hitting a career-best .323 and going 15-4 in the circle. She was also named to the NFCA All-Midwest Region Second-Team and honored on the CoSIDA Academic All-District VII First-Team for her work in the classroom as a senior.
In the summer of 2005, Johnson enjoyed a stint with the Nebraska Comets, an independent professional softball team based in Omaha and also played for the Illinois Cougars, earning Women’s Major All-America honors. In 2007, she was honored on the MVC All-Centennial Team.
The Westside High School graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Creighton in 2005. She later earned a master’s degree in exercise science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.