OMAHA, Neb. – For the seventh time in school history, the Creighton softball team clinched a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular-season title after senior Amy Baker blasted a two-run walk-off home run to defeat Wichita State 3-1 at the CU Sports Complex early Sunday afternoon.
The regular-season title is the first for Creighton (29-17, 15-7 MVC) since the 2009 season. The Bluejays will be the top seed next week when they host the 2013 MVC Softball Championship. Creighton beat out second-place Drake and third-place Illinois State for the top spot. The Bulldogs and Redbirds were rained out this weekend and did not compete.
Wichita State (19-32, 10-15 MVC) played its way into the tournament as the No. 8 seed with a 2-1 victory over CU in the series finale on Sunday.
Baker’s walk-off homer marked her second of the season. Earlier this year she belted a walk-off grand slam against Youngstown State on March 12. Fittingly, Baker’s home run delivered two runs batted that catapulted her past Illinois State senior Elizabeth Kay for the MVC career RBI record. Baker now boasts a total of 167 RBI, one ahead of Kay at 166 heading into the conference tourney.
Seven Bluejays connected on a ball in the twin bill including four players with multiple hits. Junior Ellen Homan led Creighton with three hits and a .429 batting average on the day. Junior Blair Lowe, sophomore Liz Dike and freshman Kelsey Allender each added two hits.
In the circle junior Becca Changstrom guided Creighton to a complete-game victory in the opener. She allowed just one run on three hits while posting six strikeouts on the day.
Just like game one of the series on Saturday, neither team scored through the first five innings as the pitchers and defense kept hitters off the base paths. Unlike game one of the series, this time Wichita State struck first.
WSU drew a walk to open its half of the sixth inning. A sacrifice bunt accounted for the first out to move the runner to second. A two-out RBI single to center field drove in the run to give the Shockers a 1-0 lead.
Creighton singled twice in the bottom of the sixth but could not score.
The Shockers led off the seventh frame with a double but the runner was later thrown out at home before the Jays got out of the inning.
Dike extended her career-high hitting streak to 11 consecutive games with her second home run in two days against the Shockers. The shortstop sent one out just over the right field wall to tie the game at 1-1 with one out on the board. Four of Dike’s 11 career homers have come against the Shockers, hitting one in back-to-back games each of her first two seasons.
With one down, Homan singled to left field. That forced a pitching change by the Shockers.
Baker then greeted the new Wichita State hurler with her 17th home run of the season on a towering fly ball that sailed well over the center field wall. The walk-off home run completed the Jays’ come-from-behind victory and gave Creighton the 2013 regular-season crown.
Changstrom improved to 22-8 with the win.
Junior Alexis Cantu started game two in the circle for the Jays.
Wichita State jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first and would hang on for the victory. The Shockers opened with a walk and then followed with a fielder’s choice. With one out and a runner on second WSU connected on a two-run homer to left center to put the visitors up by two.
Creighton used three pitchers as senior Sammy Snygg and junior Brittany Telecky each came on in relief later in the contest. The Jays staff blanked WSU the rest of the way.
The Bluejays cut the lead in half in the bottom of the sixth inning at 2-1. A two-out home run by freshman Blake Ringle to right center moved the Jays closer but the Shockers held on for the one-run win.
Cantu dropped to 6-8 with the loss.
Creighton hosts the 2013 MVC Softball Championship beginning Thursday, May 9 at 11 a.m. at the CU Sports Complex. The Bluejays earned a bye into the semifinals and will play their first opponent at noon on Friday, May 10.
The first six games can be viewed on the Missouri Valley Conference’s video streaming platform, Valley Live with the Championship game televised on MVC TV.
For more information, please visit Championship Central on the MVC Website.
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