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Creighton at State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
vs. Evansville • Thursday, May 10 • Charlotte West Stadium • Carbondale, Ill. • 11:05 am
at Southern Illinois • Thursday, May 10 • Charlotte West Stadium • Carbondale, Ill. • 4:05 pm*
vs. Northern Iowa • Friday, May 11 • Charlotte West Stadium • Carbondale, Ill. • 12:05 pm*
Championship Game • Saturday, May 12 • Charlotte West Stadium • Carbondale, Ill. • 2:07 pm*
*Single elimination tournament, asterisk games only if Creighton wins.
This Week: Creighton enters the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as the No. 5 seed, looking to add to their league-record six postseason titles. The Bluejays start play in the single elimination tournament on Thursday at 11:05 am against No. 8 seed Evansville (18-36, 8-19 MVC). The winner of the CU-UE game will play No. 4 seed and tournament host Southern Illinois (34-19, 16-10 MVC) later on Thursday at 4:05 pm. Should the Jays win again, No. 1 seed Northern Iowa (38-15, 21-4 MVC) awaits at 12:05 pm on Friday and the championship game is set for 2:07 pm on Saturday.
Saturday’s title game will be televised live on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Indiana, FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX College Sports Pacific, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, DirecTV (Channel 671), Dish Network (Channel 418), AT&T U-Verse (Channel 748) and ESPN3 outside the league’s six-state footprint (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska).
The first six games of the MVC Tournament will have free video webcasts, with R.C. McBride and Laura Leonard on the call, provided at http://www.valley-live.tv.
Scouting Creighton (27-24-1, 15-11 MVC): Creighton jumped out to the second-best start in school history this spring, winning its first seven games before playing five games against ranked opponents in an eight-game span ... The Bluejay offense has scored at least 10 runs in a game 11 times this year and has scored a school-record 286 runs this season ... CU leads the MVC with 405 hits, 53 homers, 267 RBI and a .464 slugging percentage ... The Jays rank in the NCAA top-30 in scoring (26th), slugging percentage (27th) and homers per game (26th) ... Sophomore Alexis Cantu (.347) leads the MVC with 16 homers, a .531 on-base percentage and a .774 slugging percentage, while also going 8-5 in 64.2 innings in the circle ... Cantu is hitting .426 with 10 homers, 23 RBI, a 1.106 slugging percentage and .563 on-base percentage in the last 18 games, and she set league records with 13 homers and 34 RBI in MVC action ... Junior Amy Baker is second in the MVC with 46 RBI, fourth in on-base percentage (.481), fifth in batting average (.348) and walks (33), and seventh in both slugging percentage (.567) and home runs (8). She ranks fourth in MVC history with 41 career home runs and is tied for 11th in MVC history with 125 career RBI ... Sophomore Ellen Homan ranked second in the MVC in hitting (.376) and hits (65), and was fourth in runs (38). She hit 8-for-11 (.727) last weekend vs. Missouri State, and reached base all seven times she led off an inning ... Another sophomore, second baseman Blair Lowe, hit .301 overall and is hitting .448 in her last 10 games ... Freshman Allie Mathewson is seventh in the MVC with a .341 batting average. She ranks third in the league in runs (43), fourth in hits (58), eighth in total bases (77) and leads the team and is tied for 13th in the MVC in stolen bases (13) ... Freshman Bri Lingl hit a league-best .405 in MVC play and ranked in the top-six in the MVC in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hits, RBI, total bases and sacrifice flies in Valley contests ... Sophomore right-hander Becca Changstrom is 16-13 and leads the team with a 2.28 ERA, 175.1 innings pitched and 168 strikeouts ... The Jays field at a .957 rate and own a 3.63 team ERA with four shutouts.
Scouting Evansville (18-36, 8-19 MVC): Evansville earned the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament with a three-game sweep of Indiana State on the final weekend of the year ... ... Evansville has scored more than five runs in just two of its last 40 games, while Creighton averages 5.5 runs per game ... Kayla Fortner is the only Purple Aces player hitting over .302, batting a robust .364 ... Fortner also leads or is tied for the team lead with 55 hits, 11 doubles, 34 RBI and 26 walks ... Amy Gaertner owns a team-high six homers, also adding 28 RBI ... Katie Sears is hitting .301 and paces the club with six hit-by-pitch and 16 stolen bases ... Sarah Patterson is 9-19 as a pitcher, owning a 2.92 ERA and a team-best 138 strikeouts ... She’s thrown 180 of the team’s 355 innings pitched this spring ... The Purple Aces own a 3.35 ERA and field at a .958 clip.
Last Weekend Recap: Creighton went 1-2 last weekend vs. Missouri State. The Bears won a 1-0 opener before a five-run seventh-inning comeback led to a 13-11 win in game two. Creighton then overcame a pair of two-run deficits in the last two innings to salvage the series finale, 5-4, in eight innings.
Ellen Homan led CU with a .727 batting average (8-11) on the weekend, while Alexis Cantu, Blair Lowe and Bri Lingl all homered.
Head Coach: Head coach Brent Vigness (Central College, 1988) is in his 19th season at Creighton. With a record of 605-427-3 at Creighton, he is the winningest coach in Bluejay athletics history in any sport.
Vigness also served as head coach at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., for five years prior to coming to Creighton. His career record in 24 years as a head coach is 753-498-3.
The most tenured softball coach in school history has led the Jays to six MVC Tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010), six regular-season MVC crowns (1998-2000, 2007-09), seven NCAA Tournament appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010) and was named MVC Coach of the Year in 1998 and guided the MVC Coaching Staffs of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
CU-UE Series: Creighton leads the all-time series with Evansville, 35-18, and has not lost the season series since 2004. The Bluejays are 19-4 versus the Purple Aces since the 2004 MVC Tournament, including a three-game sweep in Omaha this year (4-3, 2-1, 7-0).
Creighton has experienced mild success in recent seasons against returning Purple Aces hurlers Taylor Perry, Kendall Kautz and Emily Morris, as seen below:
Creighton vs. Kautz
Mathewson 2-2, 2B, RBI
Lowe 1-1, RBI
Lingl 1-1, RBI
Setlik 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI
Kreiser 1-3, BB, RBI
Ruf 2-9, HR, BB, 2 RBI, 3 SO
Homan 1-5, BB
Michael 1-5, HR, RBI, SO
Baker 1-9, HR, BB, HBP, RBI
Cantu 0-1, BB
Creighton vs. Morris
Baker 1-2, 2 BB, SAC
Cantu 1-3, SO
Lingl 1-4, HR, RBI
Ruf 1-4, SB
Lowe 1-4, 2B
Kreiser 0-0, SAC
Setlik 0-1, SO
Dike 0-3, 2 SO
Creighton vs. Patterson
Cantu 1-3, HR, RBI, SO
Homan 1-3, SO
Lowe 1-3, SO
Baker 0-1, 2 BB
Michael 0-1, SO
Ruf 0-2, BB, 2 SO
Dike 0-2, SO
Snygg 0-2, SO
Creighton vs. Perry
Lingl 1-1, RBI, BB
Homan 4-6, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SO
Ruf 2-3, HR, 2 BB, 2 RBI, SB
Mathewson 1-2, RBI
Cantu 1-2, RBI
Baker 2-5, BB, RBI, SO
Frutos 0-0, 2 SAC
Perry 0-0, SB
Dike 0-2, 2 SO
Snygg 0-2, 2 SO
Kreiser 0-3, BB, SO
Bluejays-Aces at The Tourney: Creighton is 6-3 all-time against Evansville at the MVC Tournament, including three straight wins vs. the Purple Aces.
The teams last met in 2004 (also in Carbondale), a 1-0 Bluejay win. Evansville hasn’t won an MVC Tournament game since then, while CU has won 14 additional MVC Tourney games since then.
Each of the last five times CU and UE have met in the MVC Tournament, at least one of those teams has advanced to the final.
CU at the Tournament: Creighton has played in nine of the last 13 MVC Tournament Championship games, and two of the last three.
In 18 MVC tournament appearances, the Jays have the best winning percentage in tournament history of any active school at .638 (37-21), and also own an MVC record six tournament titles.
The Bluejays have won five of the last nine MVC tournament titles (2003-05, 2007, 2010) to go along with their 1999 championship for six Valley postseason titles. CU is 19-5 (.792) in its last 24 tourney games and since their first tournament championship in 1999 the Bluejays are 31-11 (.738) in the MVC postseason.
Creighton is also the last team to repeat as tournament champion, winning three straight from 2003 to 2005.
Planting the Seeds: The Bluejays enter the tournament as the fifth seed for the first time in school history.
Since Creighton joined the MVC in 1993, the only school to win the Valley Tournament as the fifth seed has been Missouri State (1997 and 2011).
In the last two years, the No. 5 seed is 7-2. The only other seed with more than two wins in the past two years has been the No. 3 seed, which is 5-1.
Creighton is 1-1 all-time against the No. 8 seed.
The Big Dance: The Bluejays have appeared in six of the last nine NCAA tournaments, earning the automatic bid via an MVC tournament title five times. In 2008 the Jays earned an at-large berth into the NCAA postseason and in 2009 the Bluejays were left out of the tournament despite an impressive resume and loss in the MVC title game.
CU has appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments; 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. CU played in College World Series in 1982 and 1986. CU is 12-24 all-time in the NCAA postseason.
A Good Omen?: Each of the last three times the Creighton men’s basketball team won the State Farm MVC Tournament, the Creighton Softball team followed suit and won the State Farm MVC Tournament two months later.
The streak started in 2003, continued into 2005, and most recently happened again in 2007. This past spring, head men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott’s club won Creighton’s league-record 11th Arch Madness title.
#Winning: Creighton has lost its first game of the MVC Tournament just twice since 2000, going 9-2.
The Bluejays lost to Southern Illinois 1-0 in its first game at the 2000 tournament and fell in a 3-2 decision to Drake in its first game of the 2008 tournament (despite not allowing an earned run).
CU has gone winless in the MVC Tournament only three times (1995, 1998, 2008) in 18 appearances.
Close Calls: Five of Creighton’s last six MVC Tournament wins have been one-run victories, with an 8-1 win vs. Wichita State last season the only exception in that span.
Seven of CU’s last nine MVC Tournament games have been decided by two or fewer runs, including six one-run games.
Since 2001, the Jays have played 32 games in the MVC Tournament, 20 have been decided by one run. The Bluejays are 17-3 in one-run games in the MVC postseason over the last decade.
Nine of Creighton’s last 12, 14 of the last 18 and 24 of the last 32 MVC postseason games the Jays have played in have been decided by one or two runs.
Ring Bearers: This year’s Creighton team owns six women who were on the 2010 team that won the Valley Tournament title.
Amy Baker, Emily Perry and Christa Ruf each played in the 2010 tournament – with Baker and Ruf starting each game.
In addition, Kylie Hovinga, Ashley Frutos and Sammy Snygg were on the roster in 2010, but did not appear in an MVC Tournament game.
Lord of the Rings: Creighton head coach Brent Vigness owns six MVC Tournament titles in his 19 seasons as the coach of the Bluejays, claiming titles in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010.
In fact, Vigness (6), Missouri State’s Holly Hesse (5) and Illinois State’s Melinda Fischer (4) have coached 15 of the 29 MVC Tournament champions in history.
His six titles are more than any other coach in league history, as seen below:
Most MVC Tournament Titles, By Coach
1. 6 Brent Vigness, Creighton
2. 5 Holly Hesse, Missouri State
3. 4 Melinda Fischer, Illinois State
4. 3 Kathy Veroni, Western Illinois
5. 2 Megan Bryant, Drake
Who’s Pitching?: Creighton has used just two pitchers at the MVC Tournament in the past five years, a span of 1,275 pitches and 77.0 innings.
Tara Oltman threw every pitch (1,054 of them, to be exact) in nine games from 2007-10 and went 7-2 with a 0.98 ERA, helping CU to titles in 2007 and 2010. She threw 64 innings and allowed just 39 hits.
Last season, Becca Changstrom threw all 13 innings (and 221 pitches) in two complete games. She was 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA and allowed just five hits.
More Pitching Info: Creighton has used a total of five starting pitchers (Becca Changstrom, Tara Oltman, Stephanie Cortese, Tammy Nielsen and Abby Johnson) and just six hurlers (Changstrom, Oltman, Cortese, Nielsen, Johnson and Laura Fonda) in the MVC Tournament since 2003. A Bluejay pitcher has thrown a complete game in 22 of CU’s last 24 MVC Tournament games - including 12 straight.
The only two times Creighton has used a reliever in the previous nine MVC Tournaments was a 2-1 win at Wichita State (May 12, 2005), when Nielsen relieved in the first inning for Johnson and a 4-0 loss to Missouri State (May 11, 2006) when Cortese went four innings, before Fonda relieved for the final two.
Runners High: Creighton has scored a school-record 286 runs this season, surpassing the previous high of 282 set in 2004. Creighton, which averages 5.5 runs per game, is a hefty 20-3 when scoring five or more runs this season.
A streak of 41 straight victories (dating to 2003), when scoring 10 or more runs was snapped when CU fell 13-11 to Missouri State in Saturday’s second game.
Evansville in Review: Creighton swept three games vs. Evansville from April 21-22 in Omaha, winning by scores of 4-3, 2-1 and 7-0.
Creighton hit .309 that weekend, led by five hits each from Ellen Homan and Allie Mathewson, while UE had 11 total hits and batted .151 in the series. Becca Changstrom threw two complete games, while Alexis Cantu and Sammy Snygg combined to throw the 2-1 victory.
Helps To Have An Ace: While there have been a few upsets in recent years (such as Missouri State last year, Bradley in 2010), one theme has remained pretty constant…it helps to have an ace pitcher.
Since 1997, all but two teams to win the MVC Tournament have had a first-team all-MVC pitcher. The only exceptions were Drake in 2008 (which had MVC Rookie of the Year Brynne Dordel) and Evansville in 2002.
Put it in Neutral: Creighton is an even .500 in 10 neutral site games this season. The Bluejays are hitting .287 at neutral sites this year, with eight home runs in 10 games, averaging 5.3 runs per game. CU fielded at a .971 clip and owns a 3.98 team ERA.
Ellen Homan hit .548 in those 10 games, leading the team with 17 hits, eight runs and two doubles, while also owning a .611 on-base percentage. Not far behind was Allie Mathewson, who hit .471 with 16 hits in 34 at-bats, and a team-best four stolen bases. Amy Baker led CU with three home runs and 11 RBI at neutral sites.
In the circle, Sammy Snygg went 2-1 with a team-low 2.19 ERA in 16 innings of work. Becca Changstrom went 2-2 with a save and a 2.77 ERA in 30.1 frames.
Happy Anniversary: Friday and Saturday mark the 21st anniversary of two of the three longest games in NCAA history, both of which involved Creighton.
In 1991, Creighton hosted the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. The Jays started the morning of May 11 with a 1-0 win over New Mexico, behind a shutout performance from Kelly Brookhart. Several hours later in a 6 pm start, Brookhart would throw an NCAA-record 31 innings in a 1-0 victory over Utah that took 6:21 to complete.
However, all that did was make the “if necessary” championship game necessary, as a noon deadline quickly approached on Selection Sunday. So at 12:45 am, the teams took the field for a winner-take-all game. That game was “just” 25 innings, a 4-3 Utah victory that ended at 6:08 am after a Bluejay error. Brookhart threw the final 20.1 innings of that game, which means she threw 58.1 innings that day without allowing an earned run.
Some interesting tidbits from that day:
-Utah set an NCAA record with 114 at-bats as a team. Four players batted an NCAA-record 14 times each.
-Utah standout Deb DeMeglio was intentionally walked an NCAA record six times in the 31-inning game.
-Utah actually changed jerseys before the top of the 26th inning of game one, hoping to change their luck.
-Brookhart threw 416 pitches in her 31-inning complete game, and had just one 1-2-3 inning between the 13th and 26th innings.
-In the 31-inning game, Brookhart walked eight and threw a 25-hit shutout, stranding 31 Ute runners. Brookhart also went 6-for-11 at the plate.
-As a result of the long game, international tiebreaker rules in extra-inning games became more prevalent. In 1992 the switch to brighter yellow softballs was made. Since that weekend, no Division I game has lasted longer than 20 innings.
Homan Keeps Hitting: Sophomore Ellen Homan takes an 11-game hitting streak into the MVC Tournament, the longest of her young career. During her hitting streak, she is hitting .553 (21-38), with seven multiple hit contests.
Last weekend, Homan went 8-for-11 (.727) against Missouri State, reaching base all seven times she led off an inning. For the year, she’s reached in 35-of-59 (.593) opportunities she’s led off an inning.
Her hit streak is the longest by a Bluejay sophomore since Renae Sinkler had an 17 game hit streak in 2008. Homan’s 19 multiple-hit games this season are the most by a Bluejay since Jamie Reiss had 20 in 2007.
Pitching On the Mend: When Creighton last visited Carbondale in late March, the Jays left with a team ERA of 4.69 after surrendering 33 runs to the Salukis in the three-game series. Since then, CU’s staff owns a 2.69 ERA in the last 27 games.
CU’s 3.63 ERA for the season entering the MVC Tournament is its highest in program history. CU’s 225 runs allowed and 196 walks issued this year are both program records.
Wins vs. Losses: Creighton has outscored opponents 227-56 in its 27 wins this season, hitting .363 while owning a 1.80 ERA. Seven women (Amy Baker, Taylor Flodman, Bri Lingl, Allie Mathewson, Alexis Cantu and Brittnie Kreiser) have hit .415 or better in CU’s 27 wins.
On the other hand, in its 24 losses, Creighton has been outscored 168-58, hitting just .217. Only Ellen Homan is hitting over .275 in CU’s losses this spring. Creighton pitching has a 6.03 ERA with 113 walks in 147.1 innings in its 24 losses.
Baker Bombs Away: Junior catcher Amy Baker had a pair of home runs the last week of April, giving her 41 in her career to rank fourth in MVC history. She had both RBI in Creighton's 2-1 win over Nebraska on April 25th, including a sixth-inning dinger that helped the Jays to their first victory over the Huskers since 2009.
Senior Day Swan Song: Creighton honored three players during last Saturday’s doubleheader as part of Senior Day festivities. Kylie Hovinga and Christa Ruf are seniors, while junior Emily Perry was playing in her final home weekend because she’ll enter Physical Therapy school next year.
Ruf has played in 191 games (155 starts) and owns 98 hits, 68 runs, 12 homers, nine doubles and five triples in her career.
Hovinga owns a 13-12 career record in 55 career appearances, including 34 starts. She’s struck out 168 batters in 195.0 innings of work and owns a 4.31 ERA.
Perry has played in 107 games, including 33 starts. She owns 18 hits and 22 runs scored, and has been used primarily as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement this spring.
Over the past four years, Creighton has gone 124-91-1, including a 64-36 mark in MVC play.
Walks Will Haunt: Creighton pitching has allowed a school-record 196 walks this season, including 41 the past two weekends. The walks often have come back to haunt the Jays in a major way.
-Fourteen of the 41 runners to walk came around to score.
-Illinois State & Evansville have scored in 13 of the 23 innings in which it received a walk, but scored just once in the 15 innings without being issued a walk.
-In Creighton’s last 10 games, Creighton’s opponents have scored just twice in 28 innings without being issued a walk.
Hit Trend Failed: Creighton entered the last weekend in April 22-2-1 when owning more hits than its opponents, but that trend has done an about-face.
In game one of the series at Illinois State, Creighton out-hit ISU 9-4, only to lose 3-1 thanks to 13 runners left-on-base.
In game three of the series, Creighton out-hit the Redbirds 5-2, but lost 8-0 thanks to 10 free passes (8 walks, 2 HBP) issued to the ISU offense.
Creighton then lost the first two games of the series vs. Missouri State despite out-hitting the Bears 6-2 and 13-11.
Homan Home Hitting Leadoff: Sophomore OF Ellen Homan continues to thrive as Creighton’s leadoff hitter. Homan has reached safely to open nine of the past 11 games, including three extra-base hits.
In 28 games as a leadoff hitter, Homan has gone 14-for-25 with three walks, giving her a .607 on-base percentage, in her first plate appearance. She’s scored eight times.
Last weekend Homan batted seven different times to lead off an inning, and she reached all seven times.
Contributing Newcomers: Creighton owns a pair of freshmen who have started every game this season, as Allie Mathewson and Liz Dike have both started all 52 contests. Fellow newcomer Alexis Cantu, a sophomore transfer from Texas-Arlington, also has started every game.
Mathewson leads all Valley freshmen with 58 hits and 43 runs. Dike tied for the league lead with 10 two-out RBI in MVC play. Cantu leads all Valley player with 16 homers, a .774 slugging percentage and a .531 on-base percentage.
Lowe Highlights: Blair Lowe is hitting .462 in CU’s last nine games, going 12-for-26 in that stretch. She’s had two or more hits in five of the last nine games, after not having any multiple-hit games in the first 67 contests of her career.
Lowe was hitting .234 before this hot streak, and is now the sixth Bluejay to be hitting better than .300 (.301).
Nebraska Natives: Creighton owns 12 Nebraska natives on its 2012 roster, including Lincoln natives Becca Changstrom and Liz Dike.
Five of CU’s six players to start every game are from Nebraska, as is ace pitcher Changstrom.
In addition, assistant coach Abby Johnson (Omaha), volunteer assistant Renae Sinkler (Lincoln) and director of operations Megan Reynolds (Omaha) are also from the state.
The 750 Club: Creighton head coach Brent Vigness won his 750th game as a college coach on April 22 in a 7-0 win vs. Evansville.
He’s now 753-498-4 in 24 years as a head coach, including five years at Assumption.
Capturing 600: Brent Vigness earned his 600th win at Creighton on April 21st in CU’s 4-3 win vs. Evansville. Vigness’ 605 victories are more than any Creighton coach in any sport in school history.
The milestone win made him the fifth MVC coach to ever win 600 games at a school.
Illinois State coach Melinda Fischer (398), Vigness (267) and Missouri State coach Holly Hesse (254) also rank 1-2-3 in MVC history for league wins.
Milestone Wins For Vigness at Creighton
Record Date Milestone
1-0 2/18/94 First win at CU for Vigness
100-100 4/24/97 100th win (at UMKC)
200-168 5/6/00 200th win (vs. Evansville)
300-252 3/12/04 300th win (vs. Holy Cross)
400-305-1 2/17/07 400th win (at C. Arkansas)
500-335-2 4/4/09 500th win (vs. Bradley)
600-412-3 4/21/12 600th win (vs. Evansville)
40/40/40 Club?: Creighton has had two players with 40 RBI in the same season three times (2004, 2007, 2010), but never previously had three teammates reach that milestone in the same season like they did this year, as Amy Baker owns 46 RBI, Alexis Cantu (46) and Bri Lingl (40) all qualify.
In each 2004, 2007 and 2010, Creighton reached the NCAA Tournament after claiming a Valley Tournament title game victory vs. Southern Illinois.
High Five: There are eight players in the MVC hitting .338 or better, and five of them regularly occupy the top five spots in the Creighton line-up. Amy Baker, Bri Lingl, Allie Mathewson, Alexis Cantu and Ellen Homan are not only hitting for average, but with power as well, as they've combined for 39 home runs, 167 runs, 171 RBI and have also been walked 128 times.
Even better for Bluejay fans, that quintet features one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen.
Erasing MVC Records: Alexis Cantu has been tearing up MVC pitching this year, leading the league with 13 homers and 34 RBI in Valley play this year.
Cantu’s 13 homers and 34 RBI were both the most in league history for a conference season, breaking Jessie Buker’s mark of 12 homers (ILS, 2007) and Rachel Gerking’s (UNI, 2009) mark of 33 RBI.
Cantu also hit .400 in league play, second in the MVC to teammate Bri Lingl’s .405 average that led The Valley. With one more hit in league play, Cantu would have won the Triple Crown (AVG, HR, RBI) for league games only, the first to do so since UNI’s Deena Chipp in 1993. Cantu also led the MVC in total bases (70), slugging percentage (1.000), on-base percentage (.543) and batting average with runners in scoring position (.447) in league gams.
From a team perspective, Creighton's 150 runs in Valley play are second-most by any team in league history, trailing only the Valley record of 159 set by Southern Illinois in 2005.
In addition, Creighton owns 35 homers in league play this season. That's its school-record for any MVC campaign, and fifth in MVC history for one season.
Power Players: Creighton leads the MVC with 53 home runs this year, 15 more than the team compiled all of last season. Each of the previous five times the Jays have slugged 40 round-trippers in a season, Creighton has made the NCAA Tournament, as seen below:
Year HR NCAA’s? MVC Titles
2012 53 TBD TBD
2010 66 Yes Tourney
2008 47 Yes Regular-Season
2007 57 Yes Reg.-Season & Tourney
2004 42 Yes Tourney
2003 43 Yes Tourney
Valley Peak: Creighton’s offense in MVC action ranked among the best the program has ever seen. Below is a look of Creighton’s offense in MVC games since the 2000 season, with the best marks in each category in bold.
Year MVC W-L AVG R HR SB
2012 15-11 .309 150 35 20
2011 12-12 .262 77 15 19
2010 18-7 .274 124 29 13
2009 19-6 .241 72 15 15
2008 21-3 .289 104 25 16
2007 19-4-1 .284 109 27 20
2006 10-13 .251 64 14 12
2005 19-8 .256 90 17 34
2004 17-8 .259 96 19 16
2003 14-12 .250 96 26 28
2002 18-7 .317 135 13 20
2001 16-10 .272 109 22 17
2000 11-7 .273 61 6 8
Changstrom Tied For MVC Lead: After going 6-7 in non-conference action, Becca Changstrom owned a 10-6 record in MVC play this season. Her 10 Valley wins were third-most in the league, trailing only Jamie Fisher (UNI) and Jordan Birch (ILS).
In her career, Changstrom is 21-10 in MVC action with eight shutouts. Changstrom is 9-4 and has allowed just 13 earned runs in her last 13 Valley starts (1.09 ERA).
The Best Around: Creighton owns 104 wins in MVC play since the start of 2007. That figure is second in the Valley in that span, one behind Illinois State.
Most MVC Wins, Since 2007
Illinois State 105-43-1
Southern Illinois 100-39
Northern Iowa 75-71
Wichita State 70-85
Missouri State 67-76
Indiana State 38-108
Strikeout Artist: Becca Changstrom moved from eighth to fifth in CU history in career strikeouts during April.
She owns 343 strikeouts in her career, moving her past current Missouri State head coach and former Bluejay student-athlete Holly Hesse's 308 from 1979-82.
If At First You Don’t Succeed...: One reason for Creighton’s increased offensive attack is the production its getting from its first basemen.
This year’s Bluejay first basemen are hitting a collective .327, with six home runs, five stolen bases and 39 RBI.
By comparison, last year Creighton’s first basemen combined to hit .196 (18-92) with four homers, one stolen base and 11 RBI.
Rare Blown Lead: Dating to last year Creighton had won 22 straight games when leading after six innings before squandering a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 15th vs. Northern Iowa.
It was just the third time in the last 10 seasons that CU had lost a game in which it led with two outs in the seventh inning.
Since 2007, Creighton had been 135-3 (.978) when leading heading to the seventh inning, and 224-11 (.953) since 2003 in those situations.
In addition, Creighton had outscored foes 24-1 in the seventh inning this season prior to UNI's three-run outburst on April 15th.
Can’t Miss Kid: Alexis Cantu had one of the biggest offensive games in MVC history in an April 6 game two win at Wichita State. She went 4-for-4 with three homers and eight RBI in a 14-4 win, while also throwing a complete game. Cantu's three homers are tied for third in NCAA single-game history, while her eight RBI are tied for 19th in NCAA history. In addition, her 13 total bases are tied for seventh in NCAA history. All three figures tied or set MVC single-game records.
Cantu was named MVC Player of the Week on April 9th after hitting .421 in six games last week, adding four homers, seven runs and 11 RBI in her big week.
She also hurled two complete games in the circle, holding teams to a 1.87 ERA and surrendering just eight hits in 15 innings of work.
Cantu has been the winning pitcher in five different games this year in which she’s also homered.
NCAA Stat Leaders: Through May 6th, Creighton was 26th in runs per game (5.50), 27th in slugging percentage (.464), 26th in homers per game (1.02) and 46th in batting average (.294).
Alexis Cantu ranks 13th nationally in walks per game (0.83), 18th in on-base percentage (.531), 20th in home runs (16), 28th in homers per game (0.31), 30th in slugging percentage (.774) and 63rd in RBI per game (0.88). Amy Baker ranks 63rd in RBI per game (0.88) and is 64th in walks per game (0.63).
Becca Changstrom is 106th in strikeouts per seven innings (6.7) and 128th with a 2.28 ERA.
Surpassing 10: Creighton has scored at least 10 runs in a game 11 times already this season. The 2011 team scored 10 runs in a game just once and the Bluejays have already scored 10 or more runs in a game more this season than in the previous three seasons combined.
Creighton’s 15 runs on April 7th at Wichita State matched the program’s highest-scoring 3-game MVC series all last season (at Bradley).
Creighton’s 39 runs in the series vs. Wichita State were its highest scoring series against any MVC opponent since the league went to 3-game series in 2001.
Creighton hadn’t scored 10 runs in consecutive games vs. an MVC foe since April 28, 2007, when it scored 10 runs in two straight games vs. Northern Iowa.
Creighton hadn’t scored 14 or more runs in consecutive games since 1978.
Going, Going, Gone: Creighton hit 10 home runs in a three-game series at Wichita State. The Bluejays hit four homers in both games on April 6th, then hit two more on April 7th.
The April 6th doubleheader marked the first time in program history that CU hit four homers or more in consecutive contests.
Creighton started the series with three homers in the top of the first inning, as Allie Mathewson, Bri Lingl and Sammy Snygg all went yard. It was the second time this season the Jays homered three times in the same frame, having also done so in the second inning vs. Howard on March 4 when Liz Dike, Mathewson and Amy Baker all homered.
High in the Valley: Creighton went 15-11 in 26 MVC games this spring, as the Bluejays hit .309 and scored 150 runs in their 26 Valley games. By comparison, Creighton scored 77 runs in 24 conference games last year.
• Creighton slugged at a .507 rate and owned an on-base percentage of .390 in Valley play. Ten different women have homered at least once in league action.
• Two newcomers have helped the Jays lead the way in league play. Freshman Bri Lingl reached base safely in 24-of-26 games, while sophomore transfer Alexis Cantu has reached in 24 of CU’s last 25 Valley contests.
Lingl and Cantu combined for 58 RBI in Creighton’s 26 MVC games, good for 2.23 RBI per game. The duo owned a combined 20 homers in Valley tilts.
Slammin’ Sammy: Junior Sammy Snygg had the best offensive week of her career at Wichita State on April 6-7, hitting .357 with two homers and five RBI in six games, while also scoring six times last week. She also pitched once, throwing six innings and allowing just two earned runs (2.33 ERA).
Snygg began that week just 8-for-85 (.094) in 100 career games with one homer and two RBI. In her big series, she nearly doubled these totals, going 5-for-11 at the plate. She homered twice in game one of Friday's doubleheader. Then in the third game, Snygg went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs and three RBI, in addition to her first career stolen base.
Snygg, who owns a 3.77 GPA in Exercise Science, was named MVC/Prairie Farms Scholar-Athlete of the Week on April 11th.
Inside Job: Lincoln native Liz Dike is second among all MVC freshmen with six home runs this season, with four coming in Valley play.
Dike homered in each of the last two games of the Wichita State series. Her round-tripper on Saturday April 7th was an inside-the-park job, her second of the year. Dike also hit an inside-the-park homer on Feb. 19th at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Dike, who enrolled at Creighton in January and should still be a high school senior, has started all 52 games at shortstop this season for the Jays. She’s on pace to be the first Bluejay infielder since 2009 to start every game at the same position.
In A Pinch: Sophomore Brittnie Kreiser has developed into one of the most dangerous pinch-hitters in the country of late. She’s been called on to pinch-hit 24 times this year, and has reached base safely nine times. Kreiser owns 13 RBI as a pinch-hitter this year.
Kreiser owns an RBI in seven of her last 16 pinch-hit appearances, going 5-for-14 with a sacrifice fly and 11 RBI off the bench in that span. Kreiser’s six pinch-hits ranks second in the MVC, while teammate Blair Lowe’s five pinch-hits rank third in the league.
By comparison, Creighton owned 11 pinch-hit RBI as a team last year, including two from Kreiser.
Below is a list of Creighton’s players in pinch-hitting situations this season:
Blair Lowe .385, 5-13, 2B, 3 RBI
Brittnie Kreiser .300, 6-20, 1 HR, 13 RBI
McKenna Setlik .214, 3-14, 3 runs, 4 RBI, 2B
Emily Perry ---, 0-0, HBP
Becca Changstrom .000, 0-1, HBP, RBI
Kylie Hovinga .000, 0-1
Bri Lingl .000, 0-3
Taylor Flodman .000, 0-4
MaKenzie Michael .000, 0-10
Happy Homecoming: Creighton played its first 25 games on the road this year before opening its home schedule with a doubleheader sweep of South Dakota State on March 28th.
The Jays won 4-1 and 15-1, with the 15-run outburst serving as the highest scoring home game for the Bluejays since opening the 2000 season by scoring a school-record 20 runs against College of Saint Mary (Neb.). It was the third straight season CU swept its home-opening doubleheader.
Can’t Keep Her Off Base: Sophomore Alexis Cantu reached base safely in 29 straight games until it was snapped on April 29th in three at-bats at Illinois State. It was CU’s longest streak since at least 1999, moving ahead of a spell held by current volunteer assistant coach Renae Sinkler, who reached in 26 straight in 2008.
Changstrom Heats Up: Sophomore pitcher Becca Changstrom has regained the form she displayed as a freshman, when she was a second-team all-MVC selection. In her last 18 appearances, Changstrom has allowed just 20 earned runs in 112.2 innings of work, good for a 1.24 ERA. She’s 11-6 in those appearances, striking out 111 and allowing just 78 hits.
Baker’s Dozens: Junior Amy Baker owns 46 RBI so far this season, making her just the third player in Creighton history with multiple seasons of 40 or more RBI.
The only others in that elite category are two of her assistant coaches, Abby Johnson and Renae Sinkler.
Baker ranks third in CU history with 125 RBI. That figure is tied for 11th in MVC career history, as well.
Baker’s Climb: Junior Amy Baker is second in the MVC with 46 RBI in 52 games this spring (after leading the team with 33 RBI in 53 games last year).
With eight home runs this year, she now has 41 homers in her career, trailing only current volunteer assistant coach Renae Sinkler’s school record 50 home runs.
Baker is tied for 11th in MVC history with 125 career RBI, and is within reach to set the MVC career record of 157 RBI, currently held by Illinois State’s Heather Stella (1996-99).
Cantu Crushes Record: Sophomore Alexis Cantu hit a tape-measure shot home run against South Dakota (March 28) for her sixth home run of the year. In crushing the towering deep fly, she set a Creighton record for home runs hit by a left-handed batter in a single-season, topping the five hit by Jessica German in 2007. Cantu leads the MVC with 16 homers this season.
Walk It Off: Alexis Cantu’s 3-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning last Sunday vs. Missouri State beat the Bears, 5-4. It was Cantu’s first walk-off homer of the year, and the first by any Bluejay since Sammy Snygg had one vs. 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 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. S. Dakota St. 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
Becca’s Best Work: Sophomore Becca Changstrom is likely to get the ball when Creighton faces Evansville on Thursday to open MVC Tournament play.
Changstrom is a perfect 4-0 in four career starts vs. the Purple Aces with a 0.75 ERA. She’s thrown a shutout in three of the four starts, and yielded just 10 hits in 28 innings of work.
Go West, Young Women: Since it opened in 2003, No visiting school has owned more success at Charlotte West Stadium than Creighton.
Creighton owns an 8-7 record all-time at the facility, more wins than any other visitor. Drake owns seven wins and Illinois State and Wichita State both own six victories there all-time.
SIU is 152-49 all-time at Charlotte West Stadium, including a 98-31 mark against non-Valley foes.
Cheaper By The Dozen: Creighton has twice scored 10 or more runs in an inning this season, including a high of 12 runs in the third inning on March 31st vs. Indiana State. The 12-run inning is tied for 19th in NCAA history for runs scored in an inning. Creighton’s 17-run inning vs. College of Saint Mary’s (Neb.) on Feb. 9, 2000, is the school record, and was also done in the third inning.
Offensive Bounce Back: The Bluejays are hitting .294 as a team, a mark that would rank fifth in school history if the season ended today, and is the highest mark by a Creighton team since the 1995 team hit .298.
CU scored 184 runs in 53 games in 2011, an average of 3.5 per game. This year the Bluejays have already scored 286 runs in 52 games, an average of 5.5 runs per game (third-highest average in school history).
CU’s slugging percentage of .464 is up 96 points from last year’s .368. Creighton’s on-base percentage of .384 currently ranks as third-best in school history, just behind the 1990’s team-record .398 on-base percentage.
Walk this Way: Sophomore Alexis Cantu leads the MVC with 16 home runs, and also leads the MVC and ranks 13th in the NCAA with 43 walks this season. Cantu has walked (43) more this year than she has struck out (39) and has broken Michelle Graner’s single-season walks record of 40, set in 2010.
• Junior Amy Baker ranks second on the team with 33 walks, compared to only 24 strikeouts. Baker, a junior, has already walked 76 times in her career, fifth-most in CU history.
Doubling Up: Last year Creighton managed to hit only 25 doubles in 53 games, its lowest total since 1992. This season the Bluejays have already smacked 59 doubles in 52 games. Junior Amy Baker is second on the team with seven two-baggers after she hit just one double as a sophomore – in the 52nd of 53 games.
Tripling Up: Not only are doubles up for Creighton this year, but triples are also up. The Bluejays have eight triples this year, more than in any of its previous three full seasons. Senior outfielder Christa Ruf and freshman shortstop Liz Dike each have two triples to lead the Bluejays this year.
Hot Start: Creighton jumped out to a 7-0 start this season for its best start to a season since 1987. The 1987 team opened the year with 10 straight wins to set a school record, while the seven straight wins to open the year marked the best start to a season under head coach Brent Vigness. The Bluejays opened the year with an 18-0 win at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, setting a CU record for the largest victory margin in a game.
Random Note: Creighton Softball has not scored a run in the second inning at the State Farm MVC Tournament since a single tally on May 12, 2005 vs. Illinois State. Since then, it has played, and had a scoreless second inning in 17 straight contests in Valley Tourney action.
Record-Tying Game: In one of Creighton’s high-scoring games this season, the Bluejays tied a school record. The Jays topped Howard 19-4 on March 4 in Tempe, Ariz., tying the school record with 22 hits in the lopsided win. The 19 runs rank second in school history, just one shy of the 20 runs scored against the College of Saint Mary (Neb.) on Feb. 9, 2000.
No Tying in Softball?: Creighton played to just the third tie in program history when its April 3rd game at South Dakota State was halted after nine innings due to darkness with the score knotted at 1-1. Creighton’s previous ties came in 2004 at Kansas (darkness) and in 2007 vs. Illinois State (rain after five innings). Creighton would go on to win the MVC Tournament in both 2004 and 2007.
Call From The Hall: Creighton great Jody Schwartz Longballa was inducted into Creighton’s Athletic Hall of Fame on April 9th.
Playing under her maiden name Jody Schwartz, she was named a first-team All-American as a senior in 1988, when she hit .340 with 10 doubles, four home runs and 36 RBI to go with a .989 fielding percentage. She was also 10-5 in the circle with a 1.14 ERA and 12 complete games in 17 starts.
She twice led the team in home runs and slugging percentage, and led the team in total bases three times. She finished her years at Creighton as the Bluejays’ career leader with 36 doubles, 113 RBI and 78 walks in a school-record 222 games played, all of which still rank in the Bluejay top-10.
Creighton went 151-71 in her four seasons, including a fifth-place finish in the 1986 Women’s College World Series, and the 1988 squad began a run of three straight trips to the NCAA Regionals.
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