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Blair Lowe
Courtesy: Eric Francis

Softball Clashes with Bradley for First Place in MVC this Weekend

This Weekend:  The Creighton softball team hosts Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) foe Bradley in a battle for first place this weekend at the CU Sports Complex. The Bluejays and Braves open the series with a Saturday doubleheader at noon and close the weekend with a single game slated for noon Sunday.

The Bluejays are perched atop the Valley standings at 5-1 entering the weekend after a three-game sweep of Northern Iowa last weekend. Creighton (19-10, 5-1 MVC) is in the midst of a nine-game home stand and boasting a 3-1 record through four games of the 11-day stretch.

Bradley (19-12, 4-1 MVC) sits just one-half game behind the Jays in second place at 4-1 after a three-game sweep of Indiana State at home in Peoria last weekend. BU opened conference play by splitting a pair of games with Wichita State on March 23 in a series played at SIU Edwardsville due to inclement weather.

This weekend Creighton senior Amy Baker is seeking the outright MVC career home run record with her next round tripper. She also is chasing the Valley RBI record, matching it with three runs batted in.

Following the Jays: Live stats links for the game can be found on the softball schedule page of Fans can also keep in touch with Creighton softball on Twitter - @BluejaySoftball and Facebook -

Last Time Out: Down 4-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Creighton softball team rallied to load the bases and put pressure on visiting No. 22 Nebraska but the Cornhuskers got out of the jam to escape with the one-run victory at the CU Sports Complex Wednesday evening.

The loss snapped a four-game win streak for Creighton (19-10) as Nebraska (26-7) dealt the Bluejays their first defeat at home this year.

Creighton jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Senior Amy Baker drew a two-out walk before junior Alexis Cantu drilled a two-run homer over the left field wall to put the Bluejays up two after one inning.

Nebraska quickly answered in the top of the second inning with back-to-back solo home runs then took the lead for good in the fifth before adding an insurance run in the seventh.

Following a leadoff walk, a double from CU sophomore Bri Lingl down the right field line put runners in scoring position with no outs. A one-out RBI single from junior Blair Lowe scored a run to cut the Husker lead to 4-3 with runners on the corners. Freshman Kelsey Allender drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases with one out on the scoreboard.

But the Huskers handled the pressure to strike out the final two Bluejay batters and escape with a 4-3 victory.

Scouting Creighton (19-10): The Bluejays have won four of their last five games and eight of their last 11 heading into the weekend series with Bradley.

After a three-game sweep of Northern Iowa at home last weekend, Creighton moved into first place in the Valley standings at 5-1, one-half game ahead of the second-place Braves. The Bluejays are in the midst of a nine-game home stand with a 3-1 record through four games.

Senior Amy Baker currently is tied atop the MVC career home run list at 52 with Illinois State's Abby Olson (2008-2011).

With 154 career runs batted in, Baker needs just three RBI this week to tie the Valley career RBI record of 157 held by Heather Stella of Illinois State (1996-99).  

After drawing a walk against Nebraska, Baker also extended her reached base streak to 27 consecutive contests.

Over the last five games, three Bluejays are averaging at least one hit per contest. Sophomore Liz Dike boasts eight hits over the last five contests including a 4-for-4 effort in the finale against UNI last Saturday. Junior Blair Lowe connected on six hits during that span while classmate Ellen Homan totaled five including three doubles against UNI last weekend.

Three Creighton players have started all 29 games and are hitting .296 or better in 2013 including Baker (.398), Dike (.325) and Lowe (.296). Creighton ranks sixth in the Valley with a .256 batting average. The Jays’ 29 home runs lead the MVC.

In the circle, CU junior pitchers Becca Changstrom and Alexis Cantu rank 1-2 atop the Valley ERA standings. Changstrom leads the MVC with a 1.54 ERA while Cantu boasts a 1.77 ERA. As a staff, the Jays lead the conference with a 2.07 ERA and 196 strikeouts.

Changstrom leads the Valley in ERA (1.54), strikeouts (147), opposing batting average (.189) and wins (13).

Scouting Bradley (19-12, 4-1 MVC): Bradley enters the weekend on a three-game win streak. As a result, the Braves have won six of their last seven contests overall.

Last weekend BU swept a three-game series at home against Indiana State. Two of those contests went into extra innings. Last Friday the Braves took game one of a doubleheader 5-3 in nine innings before blanking the Sycamores 2-0 in the nightcap. BU edged Indiana State 3-2 in eight frames in the Saturday finale.

The trio of victories marked the Braves’ first three-game MVC series sweep since the end of the 2009 regular season.

BU opens an 11-game swing away from home this weekend. Bradley is 5-4 in true road games this season. Counting neutral site games, the Braves are 16-12 away from home.

One of those neutral-site wins was a 2-1 victory over then-No. 13 Arizona at the Kajiakawa Classic in BU’s second game of the year on Feb. 8.

At the plate BU is hitting .293 as a team. Four Braves have started all 31 games and are hitting .300 or better at the plate in 2013 including Baileigh Basham (.400), Alyson Clemente (.370), Brianne Joseph (.343) and Kendall Duffy (.301).

Basham, Clemente and Joseph each have 34 hits on the season. Basham provides a little more power with a team-high four homers and a slugging percentage of .647. Clemente leads the Braves with eight doubles while Joseph has tallied the most stolen bases (10) and runs scored (24) this season.

In the circle, Madeline Lynch-Crumrine leads Bradley with a 2.95 ERA while registering 76 strikeouts and an 11-6 record. Mackenzie Camp carries a 3.17 ERA with an 8-5 mark and 63 K’s this year.

Head Coach: The winningest coach in Creighton athletics history, Brent Vigness is in his 20th season at the helm of one of the most successful programs in the Midwest and Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). He carries a 625-438-3 record in 19-plus seasons at Creighton and boasts a 773-509-4 overall record that includes five years at Assumption College prior to beginning at CU.

A three-time MVC Coach of the Year, he has led the Bluejays to six MVC regular-sea­son titles (1998-2000, 2007-09), six Valley tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010) and seven NCAA regional appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010). He claimed MVC Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and guided the MVC Coaching Staffs of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Vigness coached his 1,000th game at Creighton and recorded his 600th win at CU in 2012.

Creighton-Bradley Series: Creighton is 38-16 all-time against Bradley. The Bluejays have won eight of the last 11 games between the squads.

CU won the first two contests of a three-game series in each of the last two seasons. The Jays have not swept the Braves in Omaha since 2005.

The teams first met in neutral-site contest in Macomb, Ill., on April 11, 1986 with Bradley winning 4-1. Creighton earned its first win three years later with a 4-2 victory on April 2, 1989 at the CU Invite.

Outside of those first two contests, the programs have met annually as MVC rivals beginning in 1993.

Creighton against Current NFCA Top-25 Squads: The Bluejays are 2-2 this season against teams currently ranked in the latest USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll released April 2.

This week’s No. 3 Florida squad defeated Creighton 13-3 on February 8 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.  Later that same day the Bluejays toppled Oregon State, this week’s No. 24 squad, 5-3.

Creighton also owns a 4-3 win in eight innings over this week’s No. 20 team, Tulsa, at the UTA Maverick Invitational on March 2.

On Wednesday night, No. 22 Nebraska escaped with a 4-3 victory over the Bluejays at the CU Sports Complex.

Bluejays’ NCAA Rankings this Week: Creighton ranks No. 35 in the country at 1.00 home runs per game in the latest NCAA weekly statistical rankings released March 31.

The Bluejays stand at No. 34 nationally with an earned run average of 2.00.  With 1.39 doubles per game, the team stands at No. 51 in the country. The Jays’ slugging percentage of .434 ranks No. 78 in the NCAA.

Individually, senior Amy Baker ranks among the nation’s top 20 in two categories. She ranks No. 12 in the country with a .901 slugging percentage this season and stands No. 17 nationally with a 0.39 home runs per game average.

Baker’s home run total of 11 is tied for No. 31 in the country this week.

Becca Changstrom’s five shutout victories this season ties for No. 17 nationally. The junior’s average of 8.9 strikeouts per seven innings stands at No. 25 in the NCAA rankings this week. With a 1.39 ERA, Changstrom rates No. 26 in the country.

Baker Writes Recipe for Record-Setting Success in 2013: Senior Amy Baker’s next home run will give the four-year starter the Missouri Valley Conference home run record outright with a total of 53.

Three weeks ago Baker belted career home run No. 52 to spark a come-from-behind victory at Evansville and tie the MVC career home run record held by Abby Olson of Illinois State since 2011.

MVC Career Home Runs

T1. 52 Amy Baker, CU (2010-pres.)

T1. 52 Abby Olson, ILS (2008-2011)

3. 50 Renae Sinkler, CU (2007-10)

4. 47 Amber Smith, ILS (2006-09)

Baker’s total of 11 homers this year already equals the tenth-best mark in program history for a single season.

Her career RBI total is now just three shy of the all-time MVC record of 157 held by Illinois State’s Heather Stella that has stood for over 13 seasons.

MVC Career RBI

1. 157 Heather Stella, ILS (1996-99)

2. 154 Amy Baker, CU (2010-pres.)

3. 150 Amber Smith, ILS (2006-09)

4. 146 Renae Sinkler, CU (2007-10)

5. 145 Jessica Huff, UE (1998-01)

6. 144 Abby Johnson, CU (2002-05)

In 2013, Baker has already set Creighton career marks in home runs (52) and runs batted in (154).

Baker Climbs to the Top of CU Career Record Books:  Earlier this month senior Amy Baker claimed the top spot in the all-time Creighton record books for home runs and runs batted in.

The senior’s career total of 52 homers surpassed the previous top mark of 50 set by current assistant coach Renae Sinkler in 2010. Baker has also tied the Missouri Valley Conference mark.

With 154 career runs batted in, Baker recently moved past both of her assistant coaches in the rankings Abby Johnson (144) and Sinkler (146) to claim the top spot.

Baker is also among the Creighton career top 10 for batting average, total bases and walks. The Omaha native’s .398 batting average this season would currently rank ninth all-time for a single-season mark in program history.

Baker leads the Valley in batting average, home runs (11), total bases (73) and slugging percentage (.880).

Give the Bluejays a Lead and You May Not Get it Back: Creighton is undefeated this season when leading after the third (9-0), fourth (12-0), fifth (10-0) and sixth (11-0) innings.

The Bluejays also have impressive records with an advantage at the beginning of the game. CU is 7-1 when leading after the first frame and 9-1 when up after two innings. 

Creighton's Magic Numbers:

·      Creighton is undefeated at 15-0 this season when allowing opponents fewer than three runs.

·      The Bluejays are also 15-0 when scoring four or more runs on offense in 2013.

·      CU is 16-2 when scoring first this season.

·      Creighton is 17-1 when posting more hits than its foes this year.

Walk It Off in Grand Style: Amy Baker’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning against Youngstown State on March 12 secured a 6-2 win and marked the 16th time a CU player hit a walk-off blast since 2001.

The slam also marked the third straight season with a walk-off home run. In 2012

Alexis Cantu’s three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth inning vs. Missouri State on May 6 beat the Bears, 5-4.

Cantu’s first career walk-off homer was the first by any Bluejay since Sammy Snygg posted one against 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 Amy Baker vs. Youngstown State 3/12/13

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. South Dakota State 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

Homer Cooking: After not hitting a home run in the first two games of 2013, Creighton jacked at least one ball over the fence in 10 consecutive contests before the streak was halted at UT Arlington for three games.

Since the UTA tournament in early March, Creighton has drilled a home run in 11 of its last 15 contests, including four multi-homer games. Junior Alexis Cantu drilled the Jays’ latest homer against No. 22 Nebraska on Wednesday to give CU an early 2-0 lead.

Freshman Kelsey Allender’s first career grand slam highlighted the series versus UNI on March 29. The slam was the Jays’ second of the year following Amy Baker’s walk-off grand slam against Youngstown State on March 12.

As a result, CU leads the Valley with 29 homers this season. The Bluejays rank No. 35 nationally with 1.08 home runs per game in the latest NCAA statistical rankings released March 31.

Six Bluejays have hit multiple home runs this season led by Amy Baker’s league-leading total of 11. Joining Baker with more than one homer in 2013 is sophomore Bri Lingl (6), freshman Blake Ringle (4), Cantu (3) sophomore Liz Dike (2) and Allender (2).

Allender hit her first career home run of an inside-the-park variety against Grambling State Feb. 24. Allender’s inside-the-park home run is the first since Dike scored two of them last season, the last against Wichita State on April 7, 2012.

Senior Sammy Snygg also rifled a shot over the wall versus then-No. 14 Florida in Creighton’s opening weekend.

Marching into Spring: Creighton finished the month of March with a 14-5 record this year. The Jays closed out the month on a four-game win streak and opened its home season with a three-game sweep of Northern Iowa to take over first place in the Valley.

Last season the Bluejays were finished 9-10 in the third month of 2012.

Changstrom Named MVC-Scholar Athlete: For the third time this season, Creighton softball junior Becca Changstrom claimed Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Scholar-Athlete of the Week honors after registering two complete-game wins against Northern Iowa last weekend.

This week’s award marks Changstrom’s third career MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week accolade. She previously claimed the honor on March 6 after the UTA Maverick Invitational and on March 20 after the Rebel Spring Games and MVC opening weekend.

The right-handed hurler is also a three-time recipient of MVC Pitcher of the Week honors this season.

Last weekend Changstrom remained undefeated in MVC starts at 4-0 and improved to 13 victories overall this season following two complete-game wins against UNI at the CU Sports Complex.

The Lincoln, Neb., native gave up just three earned runs on nine hits through 14 innings in the circle against the Panthers resulting in a 1.50 ERA. In addition, Changstrom notched her seventh double-digit strikeout performance this season in Friday’s opener with 11 K’s. She added five more strikeouts in the finale to total 16 on the weekend.

This season Changstrom has notched 10 K's or more on seven different occasions including four of her last five outings. The rest of the league’s pitchers own just five games total with 10 or more strikeouts. No other MVC pitcher can claim more than two such efforts in 2013.

Changstrom leads the Valley in ERA (1.54), strikeouts (147), opposing batting average (.189) and wins (13).

A chemistry major, Changstrom currently carries a 3.846 GPA.

Baker Caps Off Record-Setting Week with MVC Player of the Week Honors: Creighton senior Amy Baker collected MVC Player of the Week honors on March 18 after a record-setting week.

Baker's award is her first of the season and seventh of her career after capturing a pair of weekly honors in each of the past three seasons.

The Omaha native capped off a record-setting week by blasting career home run No. 52 to spark a come-from-behind victory at Evansville Saturday and tie the MVC career home run record.

Earlier in the week Baker set Creighton career marks in home runs (52) and runs batted in (151). One of those home runs was a walk-off grand slam against Youngstown State on March 12 to secure a 6-2 Bluejay victory in extra innings.

Her career RBI total is currently six shy of the all-time MVC record of 157 that has stood for over 13 seasons. Baker helped CU win its MVC opening series and post a 5-2 record during the week while starting each contest.

Baker hit .429 in those games with eight extra-base hits including five home runs, 10 RBI and an amazing slugging percentage of 1.286. The senior leads the Valley in home runs (11), RBI (26), total bases (71) and slugging percentage (.959). She ranks second in the league in batting average (.419), hits (31) and on-base percentage (.494).

Northern Iowa Series Recap: Creighton swept a three-game series from Northern Iowa last weekend at the CU Sports Complex. The Bluejays swept a Friday doubleheader by scores of 4-1 and 11-1, with the second game shortened to five innings. CU clinched the Saturday finale 4-2.

Sophomore Liz Dike led the Bluejay offense last weekend with five hits versus Northern Iowa. Including a 4-for-4 effort in the finale. She recorded a triple, double and pair of singles. Freshman Kelsey Allender hit the first home run at the CU Sports Complex of 2013, and her second career homer with a grand slam in game two.

Junior Becca Changstrom remained undefeated in MVC starts at 4-0 and improved to 13-4 overall this season after registering two complete-game wins. She gave up just three earned runs on nine hits through 14 innings in the circle resulting in a 1.50 ERA. Changstrom notched her seventh double-digit strikeout performance in the opener with 11 K's.

Evansville Series Recap: Creighton senior Amy Baker capped off a record-setting week by blasting career home run No. 52 to spark a come-from-behind victory at Evansville Saturday and tie the MVC career home run record.

CU junior Becca Changstrom matched her career high of 13 K's on Friday night in a conference-opening win at Evansville. She struck out 10 Purple Aces in the series finale a day later.

The Bluejays opened the MVC season at 2-1 on the road for the third consecutive season. Creighton also went 2-1 at Evansville to begin the 2011 conference slate before the Jays earned a 2-1 split at Bradley last season.

Rebel Spring Games Recap: The Bluejays went 6-2 at the 2013 Rebel Spring Games March 9-13. The wins increased Creighton’s all-time record at the tourney to 49-9 (.845) in six appearances at the Florida tourney all under current head coach Brent Vigness.

The Bluejays shut out five opponents (Saint Francis (PA), North Dakota, Butler, Fairleigh Dickinson and Army) over the four-day span. The exception was a 6-2 victory over Youngstown State in eight innings after a walk-off grand slam from senior Amy Baker.

One CU loss was a no-hit 5-0 defeat at the hands of Eastern Illinois on March 10. Three days later Creighton dropped a 3-1 decision to Robert Morris.

UTA Maverick Invitational Recap: The Bluejays went 3-2 at the UTA Maverick Invitational in Arlington, Texas, to improve to 8-6 this season. After a pair of wins over host UTA and Lamar on March 1, CU upset then No. 21 Tulsa 4-3 in extra innings on March 2 for its first win over a ranked team since February 2010.

The Bluejays' bats struggled in the final two games of the tourney resulting in losses to Lamar and the host Mavericks. The losses snapped a five-game win streak for the Jays.

Fantastic February Finishes: Creighton finished the month of February with a 5-4 record. It marks the seventh straight season that head coach Brent Vigness has directed the Bluejays to a winning record in the first month of the season.

The Bluejays are 46-24 in February spanning those seven seasons to the beginning of 2007. CU’s 5-4 mark this season is the same record the Jays had in 2010 – the year of the program’s last NCAA Tournament appearance.

Central Arkansas Tournament Recap: The Bluejays went 3-1 at the Central Arkansas Tournament in Conway, Ark., to improve to 5-4 this season. CU’s only loss was to host UCA in its first true road game this season. Creighton outscored opponents 35-16 last weekend. The Bluejays hit .353 as a team over the four games while holding opponents to a .271 average.

The Bluejays are 8-1 all-time at tournaments hosted by Central Arkansas. Creighton went undefeated in five games at the UCA Spring Clash to open the 2007 campaign. The Jays are now 2-1 all-time against UCA with two wins in the 2007 tourney.

Kajikawa Classic Recap: Creighton opened 2013 at the Kajikawa Classic Feb. 7-9 with wins over New Mexico and Oregon State, leading to a 2-3 record. The Bluejays are 5-6 all-time at the Kajikawa Classic following a 3-3 ledger at Tempe in 2010.

Déjà Vu vs. OSU: Creighton’s win over Oregon State on Feb. 8, marked the Jays’ second-straight victory over the Beavers by the same score (5-3) in the same tournament (Kajikawa Classic) at the same location (Tempe, Ariz.), three years apart. CU is now 2-2 against the Pac-12 foe and head coach Brent Vigness is 2-1 versus OSU.

Telecky on Top against Oregon State: Brittany Telecky won her first start of the season in a 5-3 victory over Oregon State. The junior pitched 6 innings against OSU allowing just three runs on eight hits. She also came in as a relief pitcher against San Diego State for two innings, allowing no hits or runs and just one walk.

Season-Opening Salvo: The Bluejays’ season-opening win over New Mexico was Creighton’s third-straight victory to begin a season following opening-day wins in 2011 and 2012.

CU’s first-game win streak matches the longest in program history when the Jays previously won three consecutive openers from 2006-08 and 1998-2000. All three streaks were under the direction of current head coach Brent Vigness.

Creighton is 19-18 overall in season-opening contests including an 11-9 record under head coach Brent Vigness.

Preseason Predictions: The Creighton softball team placed four players on the 2013 preseason all-conference team as the league's coaches picked the Bluejays to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), the league office announced Jan. 23.

The fourth-place prediction is the highest preseason ranking for the Bluejays since 2010 when they were picked to win the Valley. Creighton has finished lower than fourth in the MVC regular season standings just three times in the past 16 seasons.

Senior catcher Amy Baker earned the second All-MVC preseason selection of her career to go with a nod from 2011 during her sophomore campaign. Additionally, three juniors claimed their first preseason honors in designated player and pitcher Alexis Cantu, pitcher Becca Changstrom and outfielder Ellen Homan. All four of the CU honorees earned All-MVC accolades after last season.

The four CU player selections match Southern Illinois for the most on the 2013 preseason squad.  Additionally, the four players on the preseason all-conference team are the most for any Creighton squad dating back to 2004 when three Jays earned All-MVC preseason honors and current assistant Abby Johnson collected honorable mention recognition.

Recapping 2012:  The Bluejays return 11 players from last season's team that compiled a 28-25-1 overall record and finished fifth in the MVC at 15-11. Creighton finished last season with a school-record 294 runs.  CU led the MVC with a .292 batting average, 56 homers, 275 RBI and a .464 slugging percentage. The Jays ranked in the NCAA top-30 in scoring (No. 20), home runs per game (No. 22) and slugging percentage (No. 27) in 2012.

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