The St. John’s softball team’s season came to an end last Friday when the Johnnies fell to Creighton 8-1 in the opening round of the Big East Championship in Illinois.
The Red Storm, who finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak, could not dig themselves out of a five-run first inning deficit. Creighton retired the Johnnies in order to start the game before the offense went to work against St. John’s starter Madison Morris in the bottom of the first.
Ashley Cantu led off with a single before Sam Crowley advanced her to second on a sacrifice bunt. Kelli Finan followed with a single to drive in Cantu for the first run of the game.
After a walk by Jordyn Sturgeon, Mileah McKelvy hit a single into left field to drive in Finan from second base. Jayci McGill reached on an error when her grounder to the third baseman led to a throwing error, allowing Sturgeon to score from second. Hope Moreno drove home the fourth run of the inning when with a single up the middle before pinch-hitter Mikaela Pechar grounded into a fielder’s choice, which gave the Bluejays a 5-0 lead.
St. John’s put together a rally in the second inning following a leadoff walk by Kaitlin Mattera. The next batter, Christina Melendez, was hit by a pitch giving the Johnnies two on with nobody out. But Creighton pitcher Kiele Miller thwarted the rally with three consecutive strikeouts to keep the Bluejays’ lead in tact.
St. John’s put together another rally in the fourth inning. After retiring the first two batters, Miller lost her command on the mound, walking Savannah Warren and hitting Elyse Morris with a pitch. Another walk to pinch-hitter Marissa Rizzi loaded the bases for the Johnnies, but Miller exited the inning unscathed.
Creighton extended its lead in the bottom half of the inning with some small ball. Tash Coffiel and Cantu each singled before Finan brought a run in on a fielder’s choice. Sturgeon drove home another run with a grounder to short, giving the Bluejays a 7-0 lead.
St. John’s got on the board in the sixth. Morris started the rally without a one-out triple and came in to score on Amelia Ditolvo’s bunt single. The Lauren Zick followed with a walk, but the rally came to an end when Miller retired Krystal Puga on a pop out to second.
Creighton got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Cantu scored on a single from Crowley to make the score 8-1, which would prove to be the final.
The loss marked the end of St. John’s 2018 season. The Johnnies played to a 24-26 overall record, but went 12-7 in conference games and won 11 of 14 home games.
Puga was named Big East Player of the Year for her strong season. Her 19 home runs leading the nation to go along with 72 hits and 52 RBI during her senior season.
Gretchen Bowie was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year for her stellar play in the field.
Mattera joined Puga and Bowie on the All-Big East First Team, while Lauren Zick earned a spot on the All-Big East Second Team.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe