OMAHA, Neb. – After ending last season in the title game of the BIG EAST Championship, the Creighton softball team is the favorite in the 2019 BIG EAST Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the league announced on Thursday afternoon.
The Bluejays received five first-place votes and 43 overall points to claim the top spot. Villanova, St. John’s and DePaul rounded out the top four, respectively, as all three schools earned one first-place vote a piece (full poll below).
Creighton returns five position players that started at least half of last season’s games and two pitchers that started a combined 32 games, including All-BIG EAST Second Team pitcher Kiele Millerand BIG EAST All-Tournament team outfielder Ashley Cantu. Miller paced the league with a 1.42 ERA during conference play, while Cantu became the eighth player in program history to hit better than .400 (.401 – 57 hits) and ranked ninth in Division I with 1.05 runs per game.
The Bluejays wrapped up the 2018 season at 28-15, including 12-3 in league play for a second place finish in the regular-season standings. The squad went 1-1 at the BIG EAST Championship in Rosemont, Illinois for a runner-up trophy.
Creighton enters 2019 seeking its first regular-season conference title since 2013 when the Bluejays won the Missouri Valley during their final year in the league.
Creighton sits at the top of the BIG EAST preseason poll for the first time since joining the league prior to the 2014 season. The Bluejays were picked fifth each of the past four years, and second preceding its first season in the league. The last time Creighton was picked to win their conference was in 2010 when the program competed in the Missouri Valley.
Since 2000, the Bluejays have been picked to win a conference title five different times and achieved the regular-season crown twice during those years. Overall, Creighton owns seven regular-season conference titles, most recently in 2013.
St. John’s claimed the top spot in the preseason coaches’ poll each of the previous three seasons, but only ended as regular-season champions in 2017. Since Creighton joined the BIG EAST, DePaul owns three conference titles and St. John’s has two. The BIG EAST coaches have correctly picked the conference champion twice (2014, 2017) in the past five seasons.
Of the eight softball programs across the league, Villanova, St. John’s, DePaul and Providence each have new head coaches. Creighton’s Brent Vigness enters his 26th season at the helm of the Bluejays and is currently the longest tenured coach in BIG EAST softball.
Creighton opens the 2019 campaign at the New Mexico State Invitational, which will take place Feb. 8-10 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The first game of the season is scheduled for Feb. 8 against UTEP at noon central.
The Bluejays’ BIG EAST conference slate begins the weekend of March 23-24 at Georgetown.