Inside-the-park home run lifts Creighton to win
OMAHA, Neb. Â The Creighton softball team edged Wichita State 1-0 in a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) series opener on an inside-the-park home run from sophomore Liz Dike in the bottom of the sixth inning to take game one of a three-game set at the CU Sports Complex late Saturday afternoon.
Creighton (28-16, 14-6 MVC) and Wichita State (18-31, 9-14 MVC) will finish the series with a doubleheader beginning at noon on Sunday to conclude the regular season in the Valley. The victory keeps the Bluejays in control of their own destiny in the chase for the regular-season title and top overall seed in the MVC Tournament next week.
Second-place Drake and third-place Illinois State were idle Saturday with games rained out. The Bulldogs will host Northern Iowa Sunday in a doubleheader while the Redbirds finish the year on the road at Evansville.
Dike extended her career-high hitting streak to 10 consecutive games with her inside-the-park effort. It marked her third career inside-the-park home run after posting two last season Â one of those at Wichita State on April 7, 2012. The inside-the-park feat was the second by a Bluejay this season; freshman Kelsey Allender also touched all four with the ball in the park against Grambling State on Feb. 24.
Allender posted two of the Jays' hits on Saturday while junior Ellen Homan extended a four-game hit streak with a double.
In the circle, junior Becca Changstrom guided Creighton to a victory with her seventh shutout of the season. She allowed just three hits and allowed two walks on the day. Three of those base runners occurred in the top of the seventh as the Shockers loaded the bases with two outs. Changstrom then fanned her tenth batter of the game to claim the 1-0 complete-game victory. The total marked her 12th double-digit strikeout effort of the season.
Neither team scored through the first five innings as the pitchers and defense kept hitters off the base paths. Both teams left five on base during the contest.
Dike opened the bottom of the sixth with a fly to deep right field that was aided by a stiff wind and got away from the right fielder. The Shockers did get the ball to the plate for a play but Dike slid her hand over the dish before a tag could be made. Creighton later put two runners on with walks in the frame but could not bring them around.
In their final at-bat the Shockers started a threat with a one-out single. With one on and two outs, Wichita State batters drew a walk and notched a single in front of the plate to load the bases before the final Shocker went down swinging.
Changstrom improved to 21-8 with the win.
Creighton concludes the regular season at home with a Sunday doubleheader slated to begin at noon.
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