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Allie Mathewson
Courtesy: Eric Francis

Softball Hosts UNI This Weekend In Battle of MVC's Top Two Teams

Creighton Hosts UNI in Battle Of MVC’s Top Two Teams
    Saturday-Sunday, April 14 & 15 • Creighton Sports Complex  • Omaha, Neb. • Noon

This Weekend:  Second-place Creighton hosts first-place Northern Iowa for three games at the CU Sports Complex this weekend. The Jays have won the season series with UNI each of the last 11 years. The teams are scheduled to play a Noon doubleheader on Saturday, followed by a single game at Noon on Sunday.

In The Last Week:  Creighton’s bats were red-hot in a three-game series sweep at Wichita State, winning 9-1, 14-4 and 15-7. The Bluejays hit .359 as a team and slugged at an outstanding .717 rate. Alexis Cantu hit .600 with four homers and 11 RBI in the series, including a 4-for-4 performance with three homers and eight RBI in the second game. Sammy Snygg hit .455 and had two homers and five RBI, while Becca Changstrom went 2-0 and struck out 14 in two victories in the circle. On Wednesday, Creighton was blanked in a 3-0 loss at Nebraska, finishing with just one hit.

Scouting Creighton (20-16-1, 9-3 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 10 times this year and its 6.3 runs per game is its highest scoring average in 34 years ... CU leads the MVC with a .301 batting average, .472 slugging percentage, 37 homers, 220 RBI and 233 runs ... The Jays rank in the NCAA top-35 in scoring (9th), slugging percentage (20th), homers per game (24th) and batting average (31st) ... Junior Amy Baker leads the MVC with 41 RBI, is tied for third with six homers, and is fourth in batting average (.373). She ranks second in CU history with 39 career home runs and is fifth with 120 RBI ... Freshman Allie Mathewson is seventh in the MVC with a .352 batting average. She ranks second in the league in hits (44) and runs (35), and leads the team in stolen bases (13) ... Sophomore Ellen Homan is batting .336 this year (15th in the MVC) and her career average of .320 ranks ninth in school history ... Freshman Bri Lingl is hitting .486 in MVC play and ranks in the top-three in the MVC in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, RBI, total bases and sacrifice flies in league contests ... Senior Christa Ruf is hitting .390 (16-41) in her last 16 games ... Newcomer Alexis Cantu (.329) leads the MVC with 10 homers, 34 walks and a .718 slugging percentage, while also going 6-2 in 49.1 innings in the circle ... Sophomore right-hander Becca Changstrom is 11-9 and leads the team with a 2.76 ERA, 114.0 innings pitched and 112 strikeouts. Changstrom is 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA in her last eight outings, spanning 51.1 innings, striking out 55 and allowing 39 hits ... The Jays field at a .960 rate and own a 3.64 team ERA with four shutouts.

Scouting Northern Iowa (28-10, 12-0 MVC): Northern Iowa has opened MVC play with series sweeps of Evansville, Indiana State, Wichita State and Drake, and owns a three-game lead over Creighton and Southern Illinois in the standings ... UNI’s school-record 15-game win streak was snapped in a 3-1 loss at No. 9 Missouri on Wednesday ... The Panthers are 7-0 at home and own an 11-4 mark in true road contests ... Mackenzie Daigh leads the league with 14 doubles and 81 total bases and is second in the MVC in batting average (.409) ... Jamie Fisher leads the MVC with a 1.63 ERA and her 14-1 record makes her the league’s winningest pitcher as well ... The Panthers lead the MVC with a 2.01 team ERA and are third with a .296 batting average ... UNI owns a .956 fielding percentage this year.

Head Coach: Head coach Brent Vigness (Central College, 1988) is in his 19th season at Creighton. With a record of 598-419-3 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 746-490-3. 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-UNI Series: Creighton leads the all-time series with UNI 50-16. Creighton has won the season series vs. UNI each of the last 11 years, and has won 14-of-16, 24-of-28, 27-of-32 and 30-of-36 vs. the Panthers in recent years.
    Creighton experienced success last year against UNI’s top two returning pitchers, Jamie Fisher and Jaye Hutcheson, as seen below:
vs. Fisher
Setlik    1-1
Michael    3-7, RBI, SO
Ruf    2-5, 2 RBI, HR, BB, SO, SH
Perry    1-6, BB
Baker    1-7, 2 SO
Homan    1-8, 2B, BB, SO
Changstrom    0-3, 2 SO
vs. Hutcheson
Setlik    1-1, RBI
Ruf    2-4, HBP, SO
Baker    2-5, RBI, 2 BB
Changstrom    1-3, SO
Homan    1-4, SO
Michael    0-2, 2 SO
Kreiser    0-1
Frutos    0-0

1 vs. 2 Showdown
Creighton has won seven straight MVC games, surging up the league standings into a tie for second place at 9-3. This weekend, Creighton will host league-leading Northern Iowa in a three-game series. The Panthers are 12-0 in MVC play, the best start in league play since Illinois State opened 12-0 in 2003.
    Creighton has won the season series vs. UNI each of the last 11 years, and has won 14-of-16, 24-of-28, 27-of-32 and 30-of-36 vs. the Panthers in recent years.

Can’t Miss Kid
Alexis Cantu had one of the biggest offensive games in MVC history in last Friday’s 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 after hitting .421 in six games last week, adding four homers, seven runs and 11 RBI.
    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.

Going, Going, Gone: Creighton hit 10 home runs in a three-game series at Wichita State last weekend. The Bluejays hit four homers in both games on Friday, then hit two more on Saturday.
    Friday 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.

NCAA Stat Leaders: Creighton is ninth in runs per game (6.47), 20th in slugging percentage (.483), 24th in homers per game (1.03) and 31st in batting average (.307).
    Alexis Cantu ranks fifth nationally in walks per game (0.94), 16th in on-base percentage (.542), 43rd in homers per game (0.28) and 62nd in RBI per game (0.92).
    Amy Baker ranks 18th in RBI per game (1.14), 24th in sacrifice flies (3) and is 46th in walks per game (0.69).
    Allie Mathewson is 39th in runs per game (0.97) and Bri Lingl is 65th in RBI per game (0.91).

When Offenses Attack: This weekend matches two of the MVC’s top hitting teams. Creighton and Northern Iowa rank 1-2 (in some order) in the MVC in the following offensive categories: slugging percentage, hits, RBI, triples, home runs, total bases, hits per game, triples per game, home runs per game and at-bats.

Surpassing 10: Creighton has scored at least 10 runs in a game 10 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 last Saturday at Wichita State matched the program’s highest-scoring 3-game MVC series all last season (at Bradley).
    Creighton’s 39 runs last weekend 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.

Slammin’ Sammy: Junior Sammy Snygg had the best offensive week of her career, 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 her week just 8-for-85 (.094) in 100 career games with one homer and two RBI.
    Last weekend alone she nearly doubled these totals, going 5-for-11 at the plate. She homered twice in game one of Friday's doubleheader vs. Wichita State. 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 also owns a 3.77 GPA in Exercise Science, was named MVC/Prairie Farms Scholar-Athlete of the Week on Wednesday.

Inside Job: Lincoln native Liz Dike leads 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 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 37 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.
    Dike owns a hit in nine of CU’s last 11 games and is hitting .324 in that span, with 11 RBI in those games.

Call From The Hall: Creighton great Jody Schwartz Longballa was inducted into Creighton’s Athletic Hall of Fame on Monday.
    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.

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.

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 eight appearances, Changstrom has allowed just eight earned runs in 51.1 innings of work, good for a 1.09 ERA. She’s 6-2 in those appearances, striking out 55 and allowing just 39 hits.

Baker’s Dozens: Junior Amy Baker owns 41 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 fifth in CU history with 120 RBI, just one behind Stacey Rybar and Bailey Dawson for third place on that list.

Baker’s Climb:  Junior Amy Baker leads the MVC with 41 RBI in just 37 games this spring (after leading the team with 33 RBI in 53 games last year).  Baker now has 120 RBI to rank fifth in school history on the career RBI list.  With six home runs this year, she now has 39 homers in her career, trailing only current volunteer assistant coach Renae Sinkler’s school record 50 home runs.
    Baker can move into a tie for 20th in MVC history with one more RBI, and is within reach to set the MVC career record of 157 RBI, currently held by Illinois State’s Heather Stella (1996-99).

Offensive Explosion:  Creighton is 9-3-1 in its last 13 games thanks to a balanced offensive effort. Nine different women have homered in those 13 games, with eight of them owning multiple homers.
    As a team, Creighton owns 20 homers and 93 runs in the last 13 games, hitting .310, slugging .506 and an on-base percentage of .415. Creighton has also stolen 15-of-16 bases successfully in those games.
    Sophomore Amy Baker has hit .469 with three homers and 13 RBI in that time, while Alexis Cantu is hitting .412 with five homers and 15 RBI, in addition to 13 walks.

High in the Valley: Creighton is 9-3 through 12 MVC games this spring, as the Bluejays are hitting .339 and have scored 99 runs in their first 12 Valley games. That’s the most Creighton has ever scored in its first 12 league games. By comparison, Creighton scored 77 runs in 24 conference games last year.
• Creighton is slugging at a .578 rate and owns an on-base percentage of .424 in Valley play. The Jays own nearly the same number of walks (44) as they do strikeouts (47), and eight different women have homered at least once.
• Three newcomers have helped the Jays lead the way in league play. Freshmen Bri Lingl and Liz Dike have reacSofthed base safely in all 12 games, while sophomore transfer Alexis Cantu has reached in CU’s past 11 Valley contests.
    Creighton has four players averaging more than one RBI per game in Valley play: Alexis Cantu, Bri Lingl, Amy Baker and Liz Dike.

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 10 homers this season

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.

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 16 times this year, and has reached base safely seven times. Kreiser owns 10 RBI as a pinch-hitter this year.
    Kreiser owns an RBI in five of her last eight pinch-hit appearances, going 4-for-7 with a sacrifice fly and eight RBI off the bench.
    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:
Brittnie Kreiser    .385, 5-13, 1 HR, 10 RBI
Blair Lowe    .333, 4-12, 2B, 3 RBI
McKenna Setlik    .182, 2-11, 3 runs, 2 RBI
MaKenzie Michael    .000, 0-8
Taylor Flodman    .000, 0-4
Bri Lingl    .000, 0-3   
Emily Perry    .000, 0-1

Offensive Bounce Back: The Bluejays are hitting .301 as a team, a mark that would rank third in school history if the season ended today, and is the highest mark by a Creighton team since the 1993 team hit .315. 
    CU scored 184 runs in 53 games in 2011, an average of 3.5 per game. This year the Bluejays have already scored 233 runs in 37 games, an average of 6.3 runs per game (third-highest average in school history). 
    CU’s slugging percentage of .472 is up 104 points from last year’s .368. Creighton’s on-base percentage of .394 currently ranks as second-best in school history, just behind the 1990’s team-record .398 on-base percentage.

Homan’s Hitting: Sophomore Ellen Homan is batting .336 this spring, after leading the team with a .308 average as a freshman.  Homan is hitting .320 in her career (93-291) which ranks ninth in school history.

Walk this Way: Sophomore Alexis Cantu  leads the MVC with 10 home runs, and also leads the MVC and ranks fifth in the NCAA with 35 walks this season.  Cantu has walked (35) more this year than she has struck out (25) and is five free passes shy of tying Michelle Graner’s single-season walks record, set in 2010.
• Junior Amy Baker ranks second on the team with 26 walks, compared to only 15 strikeouts.  Baker, a junior, has already walked 69 times in her career, tied for fifth 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 44 doubles in 37 games.  Junior Amy Baker leads the team with six 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.

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.
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