CARBONDALE, Illinois — The Creighton softball team recorded a pair of come-from-behind wins on Friday during the first day of the Saluki Invitational in Carbondale, Illinois. The Bluejays defeated UIC 10-2 in six innings to start the day and downed Saint Louis, 6-4, during the final game of the day.
Creighton improved to 2-3 with its first two wins of the 2021 season.
The Bluejays rallied from a 2-0 deficit and scored 10 unanswered runs to run-rule UIC for Creighton’s first win of the season.
After allowing a pair of runs in the top of the first, Creighton responded with two of its own without a hit in the bottom of the opening frame. Ashley Cantu led off the home half of the first by reaching on an error, advanced to second on a Madeline Vejvoda walk, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI groundout by Kailey Wilson. After consecutive walks, Sam Alm reached on a fielder’s choice and drove in Vejvoda for the game-tying run.
The Flames had an opportunity to regain the lead in the top of the second but Cantu recorded an outfield assist by throwing a dart to home plate for the third out of the frame.
The Bluejays took the lead with two runs in the second. Cayla Nielsen led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Brittney Manthie followed Nielsen with a single to the pitcher to put runners at the corners. Cantu drove in the third Creighton run with an RBI groundout to the right side of the infield to allow Nielsen to score. Wilson drove in her second run in as many innings with a single to right field to send home Manthie as the Bluejays gained a 4-2 lead.
Creighton continued to light up the scoreboard with two more runs in the third. Cantu tallied a pair of RBIs with a two-out single to center field as the Bluejays took a 6-2 lead after three innings.
Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth innings before Creighton ended the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Vejvoda led off the last of the sixth with her first career home run to extend the Bluejays’ lead to 7-2. Victoria Alvarez drove in the eighth and ninth runs of the game with a two-RBI double to right field.
Freshman Alyssa Gappa ended the game with a pinch-hit RBI single to drive in Alvarez.
Parker Boyd recorded her first win in the circle as a Bluejay. The graduate transfer allowed two runs on three hits through the first two innings before retiring 10 in a row and allowing only one base runner during her final four innings of work. Boyd struck out seven and walked one during the six-inning complete game effort.
Cantu ended the first game with three RBIs while Wilson and Alvarez each went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Creighton trailed 3-2 against Saint Louis heading to the sixth inning of Friday’s night cap, but the Bluejays scored three runs with two outs in the top of the frame before holding on for a 6-4 win.
Sam Alm gave Creighton a 4-3 lead with a bases-loaded two-RBI single to drive in Vejvoda for the tying run and Kiara Mills for the go-ahead run. Pinch-hitter Ryann Glenn extended the Bluejay advantage to 5-3 with an RBI single.
Creighton struck first against the Billikens as Wilson drove in her third run of the day with a single to center field after Cantu led off the game with an infield single.
SLU quickly countered with two runs in the bottom of the first inning and one more in the third to take a 3-1 advantage.
Mikaela Pechar launched her 11th career home run and first of the season to trim the deficit to 3-2 in the fourth.
After the Bluejays scored three runs in the top of the sixth, the Billikens countered with one run to make it 5-4 in favor of Creighton. Mikayla Santa Cruz stranded the tying run at third base and go-ahead run at first base by ending the last of the sixth with a ground out to second base.
Cantu made it to first on a dropped third strike to lead off the seventh, Vejvoda walked and Mills drove in Cantu with a single to give Creighton a two-run cushion, 6-4, heading to the bottom of the final inning.
Saint Louis loaded the bases with two outs in the home half of the seventh with a double, single and walk. The Billikens put the ball in play but Vejvoda fielded the ball from her shortstop position and stepped on second base for the final out of the game.
Alm ended the night cap 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while Cantu and Pechar each scored twice.
Santa Cruz struck out 10 during the complete-game effort for her first win of the season.
Creighton is back in action at the Saluki Invitational with a pair of games on Saturday. The Bluejays will face Northern Kentucky at 10 a.m. before squaring off against host Southern Illinois about 25 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.