PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Creighton softball team started its conference schedule with a pair of shutouts during a doubleheader against Providence on Friday. The Bluejays defeated the Friars 2-0 in game one and 6-0 in the night cap.
Creighton improved to 2-0 in BIG EAST play and 6-4 overall, while Providence fell to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in league play.
Friday’s games marked the first conference contests for either team since May of 2019.
Creighton scored in the first and seventh innings and Parker Boyd recorded a three-hit shutout during the Bluejays’ first game of the league schedule.
Providence threatened in the bottom of the first with runners at the corners, but Boyd forced a pop up back to the circle to end the inning.
The Friars moved runners to second and third with two outs in the second. The inning ended with Cantu making a running catch in right field to keep Providence out of the run column.
After allowing two walks in the second, Boyd retired 11 batters in a row before a lead-off single in the sixth.
Creighton added to the final margin wih a run in the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitter Brittney Manthie led off the frame by reaching on an error after dropping down a bunt. Cayla Nielsen followed Manthie with a bunt down the third-base line and the Providence defense touched before the ball before it went foul, allowing Nielsen to reach first base without a play. Manthie and Nielsen executed a double steal as both moved into scoring position with one out. Sam Alm drove in the second Bluejay run with a bunt that landed just in front of the plate and Manthie sprinted towards home plate and avoided a tag by the Friar catcher.
Boyd tallied six strikeouts during her fourth win of the season, while Cantu led Creighton offensively with a pair of hits.
Mikayla Santa Cruz allowed only five hits and the Bluejays recorded a season-high 14 hits during game number two of the doubleheader.
The second game of the day started similar to the first with Cantu starting the game by reaching safely. The senior tallied an infield single, moved to third on an error and scored on an RBI groundout by Ryann Glenn as the Bluejays jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
The Bluejays added to their run total with one in the third. Cantu started the inning with her second infield single of the game before advancing to third on a but single and error by Manthie and scored on a fielder’s choice to second off the bat of Wilson.
Santa Cruz avoided jams in both the third and fourth innings. The sophomore stranded runners at second and third in the third before leaving the bases loaded to end the fourth.
Wilson drove in the third Bluejay run with a double in the fifth. Nielsen led off the inning with a single up the middle before reaching second on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on Wilson’s double to the gap between left and center field.
Providence put two runners on again in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of two-out singles before Santa Cruz ended the inning with a strikeout.
Creighton added one more run in the sixth. Nielsen recorded her third hit of the night cap to drive in Alm for the fourth Bluejays run.
Nielsen ended the day with four hits after entering the day with only four hits through the first eight games of the season.
Cantu led off the top of the seventh inning with her 200th career hit as a Bluejay to become the ninth player in program history to reach the 200-hit plateau. The Frisco, Texas native also finished with multiple hits in both games of the doubleheader on Friday and became the first Bluejay with five consecutive multi-hit games since Liz Dike from March 15-22, 2014.
The Bluejays gained a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. Glenn and Courtney Sandell each tallied RBIs in Creighton’s last time at-bat to push the lead to 6-0.
Providence loaded the bases in the last of the seventh before Santa Cruz ended the game with her fourth strikeout.
Alm, Cantu and Nielsen each had three hits to pace Creighton during the night cap. Cantu went a combined 5-for-8 with four runs scored and Nielsen finished 4-for-6.
The Bluejays and Friars conclude their three-game series on Saturday with a single game at 11 a.m.