OMAHA, Neb. — The Creighton softball team shut out Villanova 9-0 in six innings on Sunday afternoon at the Creighton Sports Complex to complete a weekend sweep of the Wildcats and clinch the No. 2 seed in the 2018 BIG EAST Softball Championship presented by Jeep. Senior Sam Crowley hit a three-run homer during the bottom of the sixth inning to end the game in walk-off fashion because of the eight-run mercy rule.
The Bluejays ended the regular season at 12-3 in BIG EAST play and 27-14 overall, while the Wildcats concluded their regular season at 27-23-2 overall and 10-8 in league play.
Creighton will played third-seeded St. John’s on Friday at 3 p.m. during the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament at The Ballpark at Rosemont, located in suburban Chicago. The game will take place following a matchup between top-seeded DePaul and No. 4-seed Villanova, which is slated for noon.
The Bluejays wasted no time on Sunday afternoon and gained a 1-0 lead after the first inning. Kelli Finan hit a two-out RBI double to right-center field after Ashley Cantu hit a lead-off infield single.
Creighton added to its lead with one run in the second and two in the third.
Jayci McGill hit her sixth home run of the year on a 1-1 delivery with one out during the bottom of the second frame to push the Bluejays’ early lead to two runs.
In the third, Cantu led off the inning with a single through the right-side, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored after Jordyn Sturgeon doubled into left-center field. Sturgeon laced the ball into left field, and the Villanova outfielder jumped to make a play but could not secure the ball cleanly. The Wildcats appeared to have held Cantu at third base, but an errant throw towards second allowed the Bluejays’ leading run scorer to cross home and advance Sturgeon to third base. Four pitches later, Finan produced her second RBI of the game with a ground out to short that allowed Creighton’s senior catcher to score and make it 4-0.
An RBI two-out single by Hope Moreno produced the fifth Bluejay run of the game. Finan walked and moved to second on a ground out before scoring on the base hit.
Creighton did not fall victim to an out during the bottom of the sixth inning before ending the game. Pinch-hitter Mikaela Pechar reached on an error and Tash Coffiel singled through the right side to put runners at first and second and turn the lineup over to the top. Cantu worked a 3-1 count before lifting a double into left-center field to drive in the sixth Bluejay run of the game. After a pitching change, Crowley hit her team-leading seventh home run of the season to wrap up the game at 9-0.
Freshman Kiele Miller allowed only two hits while recording her third victory of the weekend. Miller needed only 78 pitches during six innings of work and lowered her ERA during league play to a BIG EAST-best 1.42 (59.0 innings). The freshman ended the weekend a perfect 3-0 and did not allow a run during 10.1 innings of work while striking out eight and holding the opposition to a .094 batting average (three hits). She became the first Bluejay to win all three games of a weekend conference series since Tara Oltman in 2010.
Cantu finished 3-for-3 and scored three times while driving in one, Crowley drove in a team-high three RBIs with her game-ending homer and McGill went 2-for-3, including her solo home run during the second inning.
Creighton’s 12 BIG EAST wins during the 2018 regular season marked the most by the team since joining the BIG EAST (2014). The Bluejays also achieved their best winning percentage during league games (.800, 12-3) since 2008 when the team finished 21-3 (.875) in Missouri Valley Conference action.
Creighton qualified for the BIG EAST tournament for the second time since joining the conference prior to the 2014 season. The second-seeded Bluejays will face third-seeded St. John’s on Friday at 3 p.m. at The Ballpark at Rosemont in suburban Chicago.