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Bluejay Softball Continues BIG EAST Tournament Play Against Second Seeded UConn on Thursday Afternoon


BIG EAST Tournament Game #55: UConn Huskies (30-22, 16-8) at Creighton Bluejays (34-20, 16-8)

Thursday, May 9 • 3 p.m. CT • Providence, R.I. • Glay Field

LIVE VIDEO | LIVE STATS | CU NOTES

Up Next

Creighton (34-20, 16-8 BE) continues play at the 2024 BIG EAST Softball Championships presented by JEEP in the winner’s bracket against No. 2 seed UConn (30-22) on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT. at Glay Field in Providence, R.I.

The Bluejays begin play in the double elimination tournament on Wednesday taking down No. 6 seeded Butler, 4-2, behind a heroic and historic inside the park home run by Sydra Seville

Follow The Games

Thursday second round contest against UConn will be broadcasted live on BEDN/FloSports while live stats will be available via SidearmStats. 

Live stats and live video links for this week’s BIG EAST Tournament can be found on the Creighton Softball schedule page on GoCreighton.com. 

Scoring updates and infographics will be provided via Twitter at @BluejaySoftball.

Scouting Creighton (34-20, 16-8 BE)

Fresh off a 4-2 win over Butler in opener of the BIG EAST Tournament, Creighton gets right back to work squaring off with No. 2 seeded UConn on Thursday afternoon. 

Holding a 34-20 overall record, the Bluejays have won nine of their last 10 games and are seeking their first BIG EAST Tournament title since joining the league in 2014. 

Offensively, Creighton leads the BIG EAST in batting average (.281), hits (389) and sacrifice flies (20), while ranking second in runs scored (233), RBI (213) and doubles (72). 

Hot hitting junior Sydra Seville paces the Bluejays with a .359 batting average and carries an 11-game hitting streak into Thursday’s game after recording an inside the park home run on Wednesday. 

Fifth-year senior Madeline Vejvoda is second on the team in batting average (.356) while ranking second on the team in hits (57), doubles (12), RBI (29), walks (16) and runs scored (30). Fellow senior Cayla Nielsen follows closely behind with a .352 batting average on a team-best 64 hits (2nd in BE), including a BIG EAST-leading 16 doubles. She also ranks second on the team in RBI (30) and ranks third in runs scored (29).

Sophomore Lily West owns a .320 batting average and ranks third on the team with 55 hits. She has contributed 10 doubles and a team-high 31 runs scored, while classmate Ella Dalton holds a .331 batting average at the plate on 44 total hits, with a team-best seven stolen bases.

Senior Emma Rosonke hits at a .235 clip on 31 base hits, including three doubles and two home runs. The Omaha native also paces the team with 23 walks and ranks third with 28 RBI, while freshman slugger Sydney Potter holds a .243 batting average with a team-high nine home runs and 31 RBI. 

In the circle, the Bluejays own a 3.36 team-ERA   with 273 strikeouts in 351.2 innings of work.

Sophomore Natalia Puchino has been incredible in the circle this season, owning a BIG EAST-best 25-6 overall record. The Colo. native has thrown a league-high 186.2 innings while recording 161 strikeouts and a league-leading 1.76 ERA in the circle.

Meanwhile, junior Kenzie Schopfer has logged a respectable 4.14 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 86.1 innings pitched this season. Senior Jena Lawrence has also posted a 2-4 record with a 4.91 ERA in 31.1 innings pitched, while freshman Brooklyn Patchen holds a 8.11 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 29.1 innings of work.  

Head coach Krista Wood is in her second season with the Bluejays and holds a 564-370 career record, including a 56-51 mark at Creighton. 

Scouting No.2 Seed UConn (30-22, 16-8 BE)

Entering the BIG EAST Tournament with a three-game winnings streak, UConn matches up with No. 3 seeded Creighton on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT. 

The Huskies finished the regular season with a 30-22 overall record, claiming the No. 2 seed on a tiebreaker after sweeping Georgetown in the final week of the season. 

Offensively, UConn has fire power throughout the entire lineup, ranking second in the league in home runs (38), third in doubles (69), runs scored (217) and slugging percentage (.411). 

The 2024 BIG EAST Player of the Year Lexi Hastings paces the Huskies starting lineup with a team-best .398 batting average on a team-high 66 hits, while leading the team in runs (45) and stolen bases (30). 

Sophomore Grace Jenkins follows closely behind with a .349 average with 51 hits, including a team-high 16 doubles and 21 walks, while Rosie Garcia holds a .310 average with 40 hits and 35 RBI this season. 

In the circle, Connecticut holds a 2.86 ERA with 373 strikeouts in 352.0 innings of work. 

Graduate Meghan O’Neil and senior’s Payton Kinney and Hallie Siems have split the majority of the inning in the circle this season for the Huskies. Kinney owns a team-best 2.04 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 89.1 innings, while O’Neil holds a 2.65 ERA with 91 punchouts in 74.0 innings of work. Siems has seen the most action firing 134.2 innings while recording a 3.17 ERA with 152 total strikeouts. 

Head coach Laura Valentino is in her fifth season at the helm of the Huskies.

Series History Against Huskies

Creighton and UConn have met 13 times previously, with the Huskies holding a 10-3 edge in the all-time series.

The Bluejays won the first two meeting in the series, but had dropped then nine consecutive contests to the Huskies before the Jays claimed a 2-1 extra-innings win earlier this season in Storrs. 

Creighton has never met UConn in the postseason, but is 1-0 all-time against the Huskies in neutral site contests. 

Head coach Krista Wood is 1-5 all-time against Connecticut as a head coach. 

Potential Opponents 

Scouting No.6 Seed Butler (22-27, 11-13 BE)

After falling to Creighton in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Wednesday, Butler will battle Seton Hall in an eliminate game on Thursday morning looking to extend their postseason run.

Led offensively by Sophomore Cate Lehner, Butler  is hitting .272 as a team with 52 doubles, five triple and 37 doubles. Lehner is one of three Bulldogs hitting better than .300, owning a .345 average with a team-high 58 hits. Lehner also ranks second on the team with 33 runs scored, but does rank second in the BIG EAST with 25 stolen bases. 

junior Ella White follows right behind with a .336 batting average on 49 hits. She paces the team with 12 doubles, 42 RBI, 34 runs scored and 29 walks, while ranking second on the team in home runs with 10. 

Junior Paige Dorsett is also hitting better than .300, holding a .333 average on 52 hits, including nine doubles and five home runs. 

In the circle the Bulldog pitching staff owns a 5.29 ERA with 159 strikeouts in 342.0 innings pitched this season.

Freshman Katie Petran paces the staff with a 4.54 ERA, recording a team-high 90 strikeouts during 170.1 innings of work. Sophomore Rylyn Dyer has also provided a 5.67 ERA with 24 K’s in 60.1 innings, while graduate student Sydney Cammon has struck out 28 and owns a 7.73 ERA in 68.2 innings or work this season. 

Butler was picked to finish fifth in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll as head coach Scott Hall is in his 14th season with the Bulldogs. 

Series History Against Bulldogs

Creighton and Butler have met 28 times previously with Creighton holding a slim 15-13 lead in the overall series. 

The Bluejays have won four out of the last five meetings, which includes the Jays 4-2 win over Butler on Wednesday in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament. 

Head coach Krista Wood is 7-3 all-time against Butler as a head coach, including a 1-0 record in the BIG EAST Tournament. 

Scouting No.4 Seed Seton Hall (27-22, 14-10 BE)

Falling to St. John’s, 7-2, in the first game of the 2024 BIG EAST Softball Championships, Seton Hall fell to 27-22 on the year and will play Butler in an elimination game on Thursday at 9 a.m. CT.

Offensively, Seton Hall is second in the BIG EAST with a .278 batting average, a .420 slugging percentage and a .375 on-base percentage.  

Four of the Pirates’ regular starters are hitting .300 or better at the plate in 2024, led by freshman Katey Brennan (.324). Junior Olivia Gilbert owns a .324 batting average on 46 hits and 12 doubles, while Taylor Hill has recorded a team-best 50 hits, including a team-high 13 doubles and nine home runs for a .309 average. 

Senior Kelsey Carr has been a two-way player for the Pirates, recording a .305 batting average at the plate while also firing a team-high 144.1innings of work in the circle. Carr owns a team-best 119 strikeouts but does own a 3.35 ERA. 

Seton Hall has also seen senior Sydney Babik and sophomore Kyra Kreuscher toss significant innings in the circle for the Pirates this season. Kreuscher owns a 2.50 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 92.1 innings of work, while Babik has recorded a 4.57 ERA with 45 punchouts in 92.0 innings this season. 

As a pitching staff, the Pirates own a 3.47 ERA with 208 strikeouts in 334.2 innings pitched this season.

Seton Hall was picked to finish third in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll as head coach Angie Churchill is in her third season with the Pirates.

Series History Against Pirates

Creighton leads the all-time series against Seton Hall, 15-14.

The Pirates have taken seven of the last nine meetings with the Bluejays, including two of three in South Orange earlier this spring.  Creighton and Seton Hall have never met in the BIG EAST Tournament or on a neutral field. 

Head Coach Krista Wood is 2-5 all-time against Seton Hall. 

Scouting No. 5 Seed St. John’s (30-25, 13-11 BE)

Hot at the plate, fifth seeded St. John’s opened up postseason play with aa season-high 14 hits in a 7-2 triumph over Seton Hall in the first game of the 2024 BIG EAST Tournament. 

The Red Storm offensively is hitting .250, with 64 doubles, 30 home runs and 205 runs scored, while the pitching staff owns a BIG EAST-leading 2.84 ERA with 380 strikeouts in the circle this season.

Junior London Jarrard (.322) is the only player hitting better than .300, while also leading the team with 57 hits, 14 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 50 RBI and 34 runs scored. She is followed by sophomore Cassidy Stouffer, who owns a .278 batting average with 40 hits, including 12 doubles and 24 RBI.

In the circle, the Red Storm have turned to sophomore’s Loreley Francia (13-8) and Ana Serafinko (12-7) to handle a majority of the pitching duties this season. Serafinko paces St. John’s with a 2.27 ERA with 163 strikeouts in 135.2 innings of work, while Francia has also provided 133.0 innings and 145 strikeouts for a 2.74 ERA. 

Head coach Michelle DePolo is in her first season at the helm of St. John’s. 

Series History Against the Red Storm

Creighton and St. John’s have met 29 times in program history, with 27 meetings happening since the Bluejays joined the BIG EAST in 2014. 

St. John’s holds an 19-10 lead in the all-time series after Creighton took two of three from the Red Storm in Queens earlier this season. Additionally, the Bluejays are 2-1 all-time against  St. John’s in neutral site games, which includes an 8-1 win in the first round of the 2018 BIG EAST Tournament. 

Head coach Krista Wood owns an 4-3 record as a head coach against St. John’s. 

Milestone Watch

Cayla Nielsen owns 206 career hits and is three base hits shy of moving into fifth on Creighton’s all-time career hits list.

Cayla Nielsen is three doubles shy of tying Syacey Rybar (43) for third on Creighton’s all-time career doubles list.

Cayla Nielsen has recorded a BIG EAST-leading 16 doubles this season and is one shy of moving moving into a tie for third on Creighton’s single season doubles list.

Cayla Nielsen needs just four walks to tie Karla Hughes (69) for 10th on Creighton’s all-time career walks list.

Alyssa Gappa owns 22 career hit-by-pitches, three shy of moving into a tie with Michelle Koch and Lauren Cisneros (25) for fifth all-time for hit-by-pitches in a career. 

Alyssa Gappa needs just three more hits to record the 100th hit of her Bluejay career.  

Emma Rosonke has driven in 106 runs over the course of her Bluejays career. She is just one RBI shy of tying Lauren Cisneros (107) for 10th on Creighton’s all-time career Runs Batted In list. 

Natalia Puchino owns 274 career strikeouts as a sophomore. She is just eight strikeouts away from moving into a tie with Sydnee Eck for tenth on Creighton’s career strikeout record board.

Natalia Puchino‘s currently ranks tied for third in the NCAA this season with 25 wins. With one more wins, Puchino will move into a tie with Bluejay Hall of Famer Tara Oltman (26) for sixth on Creighton’s single season wins list. 

CU in the BIG EAST Tourney

Creighton opened their third appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament with a 4-2 win over Butler on Wednesday, advancing into the winner’s bracket for the second time in three BIG EAST Tournament appearances.

Creighton is 2-2 all-time in the BIG EAST Tournament, suffering a 9-1 loss to DePaul in 2014 and a 6-2 loss to DePaul in 2018. The Bluejays lone before Wednesday in the BIG EAST Tournament was an 8-1 win over St. John’s in the opening round of the 2018 championships. 

Complete results and Creighton BIG EAST Tournament records can be found on page 12 through 15 of the notes packet. 

Seville’s Historic and Heroic Inside the Park Home Run

Junior Sydra Seville heroically created history on Wednesday night hitting an inside the park home run in the Bluejays’ 4-2 win over Butler in the opening round of the 2024 BIG EAST Softball Championships. 

Racing around the bases, the New Lenox, Ill. native not only recorded the first home run of the collegiate career, but she also became the first Bluejay to hit a home run in a BIG EAST Tournament game. 

In fact, Seville’s inside the parker was the Bluejays first postseason home run since Alexis Cantu blasted a two-run homer in the sixth innings of a 3-2 loss to Southern Illinois during the 2012 MVC Tournament. 

Seville’s inside the park home run was also the Bluejays inside the parker since Kiara Mills’ hit a home run the non-traditional way in the series opener against Villanova on April 15, 2022. 

Although unconfirmed, Seville’s home run seems to be the first inside the park home run in the BIG EAST Tournament since at least 2005.

Seville Extends Hitting Streak to 11

Junior Sydra Seville, one of the hottest hitters in the BIG EAST, extended her hit streak to a team-leading 11 consecutive games, after collecting her ninth multi-hit game of the season on Wednesday during the Bluejays 4-2 win over Butler in the BIG EAST Tournament. 

During her 11-game hitting streak, the New Lenox, Ill. native is hitting a team-best .529 with 18 hits, six RBI, seven runs scored and three stolen bases. She has since risen her batting average to .359, which is the best mark on the team. 

Seville’s 11-game hitting streak is the teams longest hitting streak since Ashley Cantu recorded a hit in 13 straight game during the 2019 season.

Below is a list of Creighton’s top hitting streaks since 1999.

Hit Streak        Player                Year    

17        Renae Sinkler-O’Gorman    2008

17        Jamie Reiss    2007

14        Liz Dike    2015

14        Marie Gieron    2001

13        Ashley Cantu    2019

13        Jayci Foster    2018

13        Ellen Homan    2012

11        Sydra Seville    2024

Sydney Clutch Potter

Seeing action for just the second time in the last four weeks, freshman Sydney Potter came up clutch, driving in three runs on a pair of hits in the Bluejays 4-2 win over Butler in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Wednesday. 

Pinch hitting in the bottom of the fourth, the Iowa native delivered a two-out-two-run single to tied the game at 2-2. Potter then registered an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to push the Jays lead out tot 4-2. The freshmen’s single in the bottom of the fourth was her first hit since hitting a single against Villanova on April 6. 

Potter’s three RBI on Wednesday against Butler set a Creighton record for most RBI in a single BIG EAST Tournament game. 

On The Double

With two doubles on Wednesday against Butler Creighton has now hit 72 total doubles this season. That figure currently ranks second in the BIG EAST and fifth all-time on Creighton’s single-season doubles list. 

In head coach Krista Wood’s first two seasons with Creighton, the Bluejays have recorded 149 doubles, including 77, the second most in a single season in program history, last season.  

Doubles

1.    79    1993

2.    77    2023

3.    74    2001

    4.    73    1999

    5.    72    2024

6.    71    2004

    7.    65    1997

        65    1989

    9.    64    2005

10.    63    1994

50/50/50 

Seniors Cayla Nielsen (64) and Madeline Vejvoda (57) as well as sophomore Lily West (55) have each recorded 50+ hits this season. 

They are just the 12th Bluejay trio in program history and the first since 2012 to each record 50 or more hits in a single season. 

Should the trio reach at least 60 hits each, they will join Jody Ream, Sue Frederick and Karyn Rice (1989) as the only groups to collect 60 or more hits in a single season. 

All Puchino Does is Win, Win, Win 

After guiding the Bluejays pitching staff to 13 wins in the circle last season, sophomore Natalia Puchino has been red hot for the Bluejays in 2024. 

The Milliken, Colo. native is 25-6 with four saves in the circle for the Bluejays this season. She currently leads the BIG EAST with a 1.76 ERA and 161 strikeouts in a league-leading 186.2 innings of work this season. 

Puchino’s 25 victories in the circle this year are tied for the third most in the NCAA this season and are the seventh most by a Bluejay pitcher in a single season in program history.

Puchino sits just one win shy of tying Tara Oltman for sixth on the all-time single-season wins list. 

WINS

    No.    Name    W    Year

    1.    Tara Oltman    32    2010

    2.    Tara Oltman    31    2008

    3.    Tara Oltman    29    2009

    4.    Tammy Nielsen    28    2005

        Tammy Nielsen    28    2004

    6.    Tara Oltman    26    2007

    7.    Natalia Puchino    25    2024

    8.    Kelly Brookhart    23    1990

    9.    Becca Changstrom    22    2013

    10.    Marcia Jacobsen    21    1981

Puchino Surpasses 250 Career Strikeouts

Recording a pair of strikeouts in the first inning against DePaul on April 27th, sophomore Natalia Puchino became just the eighth Bluejay in the last 25 years to record at least 250 career strikeouts. 

Puchino is also the first Bluejay pitcher to record back-to-back 100 strikeout seasons since Sydnee Eck did so in the 2015-16 seasons. 

Puchino’s 274 career strikeouts are the most since Kiele Miller recorded 334 punchouts from 2018-2020. Last season, Puchino became just the fifth Bluejay to record 100 strikeouts in their freshman season. 

Career Strikeouts Since 1999

Strikeouts        Pitcher                Year    

1086    Tara Oltman    2007-10

914    Tammy Nielsen    2003-05

860    Becca Changstrom    2011-14

495    Shelli Mellegaard    1999-02

334    Kiele Miller    2018-20

282    Sydnee Eck    2015-16

278    Kristan Melton    2000-03

274    Natalia Puchino    2023-Pr.

249    Stephanie Cortese    2003-06 

243    Abby Johnson    2002-05

234    Micaela Whitney    2015-16

211    Amanda Hess    2007-08

Conference Tournament History

Creighton made their 30th postseason conference tournament appearance on Wednesday afternoon earning a 4-2 victory over Butler.

The Bluejays are a combined 61-35 in the 30 conference tournament appearances, claiming nine league tournament titles. 

Seeking the first BIG EAST Tournament Title in program history, the last time the Bluejays punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament was in 2010 when the Jays claimed their sixth Missouri Valley Conference Championship. 

Below is a breakdown of Creighton’s postseason appearances and record by conference. 

Conf.     App.    Record    Titles

HCAC    5    16-6    3

WAC    2    6-4    –

MVC    20    37-23    6

BE    3    2-2    –

The Big Dance

A storied program, Creighton has appeared in 12 NCAA Tournament in program history and is seeking it first automatic bid into the postseason tournament since 2010. 

The Bluejays appeared in the 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010 NCAA Tournament. CU played in the Women’s College World Series twice (1982 and 1986) and the AIAW World Series twice (1980 and 1981). The Bluejays are 12-24 all-time in the NCAA postseason. 

Put it in Neutral

Creighton is 10-3 (.769) this season in neutral site games. The Bluejays are hitting .278 at neutral sites this season, with 92 hits, including 15 doubles, one triple and six home runs, while averaging 4.61 runs per game. CU is also fielding at a .991 clip and owned a 3.57 ERA.

Senior Cayla Nielsen hit .384 in those 13 games, leading the team with 18 hits, three doubles and eight runs scored, while owning a .420 on-base percentage. Not far behind is Madeline Vejvoda, who is hitting .343 with 12 hits in 35 at-bats. Freshman Sydney Potter is also hitting .333 while owned a team-high three home runs and 14 RBI on nine hits.

In the circle, sophomore Natalia Puchino is 7-1 with a team-low 1.99 ERA in 45.2 innings of work. Senior Jena Lawrence also holds a 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 13.1 frames. 

Happy Anniversary

Saturday marks the 21st anniversary of two of the three longest games in NCAA history, both of which involved Creighton. On May 11, 1991, Creighton faced Utah in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Omaha.

    In an era when pitching dominated, it’s not surprising that Creighton won a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. What makes that night so special is that it took 31 innings!

    Star Creighton pitcher Kelly Brookhart, who had thrown a complete-game shutout earlier in the day, threw all 31 innings in the longest game in NCAA history. She threw the shutout despite allowing 25 hits and walking eight Utes (all intentional) while stranding an NCAA record 31. Brookhart was no slouch at the plate in that game either, going 6-for-11.

    The 31 inning game took 6:24 to complete, and finished at 12:24 a.m. on May 12th.

    Making the day even crazier was that the Bluejay win forced the “if necessary” game to be played, and that started just 21 minutes later at 12:45 a.m.

    Game two turned out to be the third-longest game in NCAA history, as Utah won a 4-3 game in 25 innings after the teams agreed to go to the international tiebreaker rule and place a runner on second base to start the 25th inning.

    Brookhart came on in relief in the nightcap and finished off the final 20.1 innings, part of her 58.1 innings of work in an 18-hour span.