OMAHA, Neb. – In a battle for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), the Creighton softball team split a pair of one-run games with Bradley to maintain a one-half game lead over the Braves atop the standings. Bradley won game one 3-2 before a dramatic walk-off double gave Creighton a 6-5 victory in eight innings at the CU Sports Complex Saturday afternoon.
In an evenly matched doubleheader both teams scored eight total runs and committed four errors on the day. Bradley (20-13, 5-2 MVC) posted 15 hits, two more than Creighton (20-11, 6-2 MVC) but the Bluejays blasted two significant home runs on the day and five-extra base hits while the Braves totaled a pair of doubles.
The first significant CU homer of the day came off the bat of senior Amy Baker as she claimed the Missouri Valley Conference career home run record outright with homer No. 53 in game one. In the process Baker moved to within two runs batted in of tying the MVC career RBI record. Baker boasts 155 career RBI, a pair shy of the conference record of 157.
Creighton junior Ellen Homan connected on the second significant homer of the day with 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 Becca Changstrom capped the dramatic day 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.
In game one, Changstrom started in the circle for Creighton. The Jays’ batters went up against Madeline Lynch-Crumrine.
The game remained scoreless through the first four innings of play as the Bluejays left six runners on base and Bradley stranded four runners.
In the bottom of the fifth, Baker’s record-setting solo home run towered high over the left field fence to give Creighton a 1-0 lead.
Bradley answered in the top of the sixth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for BU with two outs. The Braves rallied with an RBI infield single to even the game at 1-1. A catcher’s interference call against CU allowed a second Brave to score and put Bradley up 2-1. Bradley drew a bases loaded walk to push a third run across before the Bluejays got out of the inning down 3-1.
Creighton scored late in the bottom of the seventh but could not even the score. After a leadoff walk by Homan, sophomore Liz Dike reached on a fielder’s choice. Junior Alexis Cantu connected on an RBI single to close Creighton to within 3-2 but Bradley held on for the one-run victory.
Despite 10 strikeouts, Changstrom fell to 13-6 after the loss while Lynch-Crumrine improved to 12-6 on the season with the win.
Cantu opened game two as Creighton’s starter in the circle as Bradley tabbed Mackenzie Camp as its pitcher.
Bradley jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in game two. A one-out double by Lynch-Crumrine and an RBI single with two outs put BU up by one. A Creighton error allowed a second run to score before the Bluejays recorded the final out of the inning.
Creighton cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second. Junior Blair Lowe drew a one-out walk then classmate MaKenzie Michael reached on a Bradley error to put runners in scoring position. Freshman Kelsey Allender reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Freshman Blake Ringle came into the game to pinch hit and connected on a sacrifice fly to score the run from third and make the score 2-1 in favor of BU.
After a scoreless third inning, Bradley added a run in the top of the fourth. A leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt started the inning before a Creighton error allowed the run to score with two outs and give Bradley a 3-1 edge.
Creighton responded in its half of the frame. Michael drew a one-out walk before Ringle came through with her second RBI of the game via a double to right center. Michael scored to cut the BU lead to 3-2 after four.
Bradley increased its lead in the top of the sixth inning. A leadoff single and sacrifice bunt started the inning for the Braves. A double down the left field line scored a run to put Bradley up 4-2. Later a BU single up the middle with two outs led to another score for a 5-2 Bradley advantage.
The Bluejays knotted the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth. A one-out single from Allender and a walk to freshman Katie Pascuzzi put two runners on for Homan. She subsequently drilled a line-drive home run over the right field wall to tie the game at 5-5 after six innings.
Neither team scored in the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.
Changstrom came into the game to record the final out of the seventh for Creighton in relief. In the top of the eighth, Changstrom and the Bluejay defense retired the Braves in order.
Homan connected on a one-out single in the CU eighth. A sacrifice bunt from Dike moved the runner to second. A two-out intentional walk to Baker brought Changstrom to the plate. Down in the count, Changstrom hit a pitch just over the glove of the BU second baseman and the ball rolled towards the wall in right center as the CU game-winning run crossed the plate.
Changstrom’s walk-off double gave the Jays the one-run victory and earned her the win to improve to 14-6 overall. Camp suffered the loss to drop to 8-6 this season.
Creighton and Bradley conclude the three-game series in a game slated for noon on Sunday at the CU Sports Complex with the winner owning at least a share of first place in the Valley.