Creighton University Softball Camps
Head Coach Brent Vigness
The winningest coach in Creighton athletics history, Brent Vigness is in his 20th season at the helm of one of the most successful programs in the Midwest and Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). A three-time MVC Coach of the Year, he has led the Bluejays to six MVC regular-season titles (1998-2000, 2007-09), six Valley tournament titles (1999, 2003-05, 2007, 2010) and seven NCAA regional appearances (1999, 2003-05, 2007-08, 2010). He claimed MVC Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and guided the MVC Coaching Staffs of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Vigness coached his 1,000th game at Creighton and recorded his 600th win at CU in 2012. He earned victory No. 600 at Creighton on April 21 in a 4-3 win against Evansville. A year prior, Vigness became the winningest coach in Creighton athletics history. The Bluejays’ 9-3 win at Iowa State on March 31, 2011 marked his 565th victory at Creighton, moving Vigness past CU Hall of Fame softball coach Mary Higgins for the most wins by any head coach in school history. His 754 career victories also rank among the top 30 for active coaches in NCAA Division I softball.
The Bluejays have captured more combined MVC regular-season and tournament titles since 1998 than any other Valley program, with 12 titles in that span. Vigness has twice guided the Bluejays to three straight regular-season titles – from 1998 to 2000 and from 2007 to 2009.
Since the beginning of the 1998 season the Bluejays have won better than 67 percent of their league games, captured six regular-season Valley titles, won six MVC tournament crowns and appeared in nine of the last 15 MVC tournament championship games. The 2008 team set a school record with 21 conference victories, while the 2005 Creighton squad became just the second team in league history to win three consecutive tournament titles.
In 2012, Creighton jumped out to its second-best start in school history by winning its first seven games before playing five contests against ranked opponents over an eight-game span. The Jays finished the MVC regular season in fifth at 15-11 and bowed out of the conference tourney quarterfinals with a final record of 28-25-1.
A potent Bluejay offense scored at least 10 runs in a game 11 times and scored a school record of 294 runs. CU led the MVC with a .292 batting average, 56 homers, 275 RBI and a .464 slugging percentage. The Jays ended the year ranked in the NCAA top-30 in scoring (No. 20), home runs per game (No. 22) and slugging percentage (No. 27).
Sophomore Alexis Cantu led the MVC with 17 homers, 46 walks, a .547 on-base percentage and a .802 slugging percentage. She set league records with 13 homers and 34 RBI in MVC action. Junior Amy Baker was third in the MVC with 46 RBI. Sophomore Ellen Homan ranked second in the MVC in hitting at .370 and also rated No. 2 in hits with 67. Sophomore right-hander Becca Changstrom went 17-13 and led the team with a 2.38 ERA, 182.1 innings pitched and 177 strikeouts.
After the loss of All-American seniors Tara Oltman and Renae Sinkler, 2011 was a rebuilding year for Creighton. The Bluejays returned just three starters and added 11 freshmen to the roster. The team finished in sixth place at 12-12 in the MVC and posted a 25-28 overall record. Baker hit a league-leading 18 homers and topped the team with 33 RBI. Homan become the first freshman to lead Creighton in hitting since 1989 with 52 hits, 15 multi-hit games, 25 runs scored and a .308 average.
The 2010 Bluejays overcame a 2-5 MVC start to finish 18-7 in league play and sweep through the MVC Tournament for their sixth Valley postseason crown under Vigness. Led by two-time MVC Player of the Year and NFCA All-American Renae Sinkler’s school and MVC record 24 home runs, the team set a school record with 66 homers. The Jays’ 1.1 homers per game ranked No. 23 nationally. Three-time Easton All-American pitcher Tara Oltman ended her record-setting career by becoming the first student-athlete in school history to earn first-team all-conference honors four times. She also set a single-season school and MVC records with 32 wins. Vigness logged career win No. 700 in a victory over Southern Illinois on May 14 during the Bluejays’ 2010 MVC tournament title run. The Jays dropped a pair of 3-2 contests to host No. 8 Missouri and DePaul at the NCAA Regional in Columbia, Mo., to end the season.
Creighton clinched its third straight regular-season title in 2009. The Bluejays finished at 35-16 overall and ranked eighth in the NCAA with a 1.46 ERA and ninth in the nation with a school-record .975 fielding percentage. Despite an impressive résumé, including CU as the first visiting team to shut out Arizona on its home field since 2005 and a no-hitter versus nationally ranked Southern Illinois, the Bluejays were left out of the NCAA Tournament after losing the MVC Championship game. Oltman became the first three-time MVC Pitcher of the Year and the first NFCA All-American under Vigness’ watch. Vigness captured his 500th Bluejay victory with a win over Bradley on April 4, 2009.
In 2008 the Bluejays posted their fourth 40-win season in a five-year span, finishing with a 43-17 overall mark and 21-3 Valley record to claim another regular-season crown. Creighton’s 19-2 home record included an unblemished 12-0 mark in league play and marked the most home wins by the Bluejays since 1989. Creighton ranked No. 17 in the NCAA in fielding percentage. After earning an at-large NCAA bid, the Jays suffered two 2-1 eight-inning losses to No. 18 Long Beach State and host Iowa at the NCAA Regional in Iowa City. Highlights from the season included a win at No. 7 and two-time defending NCAA Champion Arizona and Sinkler’s selection as USA Softball’s National Player of the Week on April 14.
The 2007 Bluejays rebounded from a disappointing 2006 campaign by tearing through the MVC for their first regular-season title since 2000. Oltman and Amanda Hess anchored a staff that ranked No. 20 in the NCAA with a 1.76 ERA. The Jays dominated the MVC Tournament, toppling nationally ranked Southern Illinois in the title game to capture their fourth postseason title and NCAA bid in a five-year span. Creighton eliminated NCAA Regional host Nebraska with a 2-1 victory in Lincoln before bowing out of the tournament.
Vigness led the Bluejays to three straight MVC Tournament titles and NCAA Regional appearances from 2003-05. He captured his first postseason NCAA victory and the Jays’ first since 1989 with a 3-1 win over Florida International at the 2003 NCAA Regional in Lincoln.
Creighton’s 2004 season was one for the record books, led by MVC Player of the Year Stacey Rybar and MVC Pitcher of the Year Tammy Nielsen – both Easton All-Americans that season. The Bluejays reeled off the second-longest winning streak in school history with 20 wins early in the season. Creighton ranked sixth in the NCAA with a team earned run average of 0.99. The Bluejays finished second in the MVC standings in 2004, but captured their second straight tournament title to earn the MVC’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The team responded by winning a school record three NCAA games, topping Florida Atlantic twice and Iowa in a 10-inning classic to finish third at the eight-team regional.
The 2005 team recorded the best start in school history, going 38-4 through its first 42 games. Vigness directed the Jays to wins over top-25 foes Alabama, Nebraska and Oregon. Creighton’s two wins over in-state rival Nebraska gave the Jays the first season series sweep of the Huskers in school history. The Jays’ hot start helped them crack both major polls, reaching as high as No. 19 in the NFCA/USA Today poll. Vigness also notched career win No. 500 during Creighton’s magical start.
The Jays opened 2005 MVC play with a 13-1 mark, the best start ever by a Creighton team in Valley play. The Jays won 19 conference games and went on to win their third straight MVC Tournament title. Creighton dropped a pair of 2-1 extra-inning affairs to nationally ranked teams from Washington and Iowa at the NCAA Regional in Lincoln. Outfielder Melanie Dorsey hit .402 to lead the MVC and earn Easton First-Team All-America honors, and current Creighton assistant coach Abby Johnson was named the MVC Player of the Year.
Vigness was tabbed the MVC Coach of the Year in 1998, after capturing the first of three straight MVC regular-season crowns with a 16-2 mark in Valley play. After claiming the 1999 MVC tournament title Vigness led Creighton to its first NCAA tournament appearance in nine seasons as CU Hall of Fame player Heidi Geier earned Easton Second Team All-America honors. The following year Vigness coached CU to a share of the 2000 regular-season title.
Creighton continues to play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the MVC in order to prepare for conference play. In the last five years, the Jays have traveled to nationally ranked Arizona, Arizona State and Oklahoma for tournaments. CU has also battled top 25 teams from Nebraska, Louisville and Northwestern over that span. In 2012 Creighton took No. 5 Arizona State to extra innings in Tempe. The Jays upset No. 15 Northwestern in 2010 after going into Tucson and knocking off nationally ranked Arizona in each of the two prior seasons. The Jays’ strong schedules have prepared them well over the years, helping Vigness’ teams finish high in the MVC and compete in NCAA postseason play.
Vigness arrived in Omaha after leading Division II Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., to a 148-71-1 (.675) mark between 1989 and 1993. Vigness left as the winningest coach in Assumption College history. He guided the Lady Hounds to three consecutive 30-win seasons. The 37 victories posted by his 1990 Assumption College squad is the second-best single-season mark in school history. In 1992, Vigness became the youngest coach in the school’s history to amass 100 wins.
He was named the Northeast 10 Conference “Coach of the Year” in both 1989 and 1991 after leading the Lady Hounds to the league regular-season title. Vigness’ 1992 Assumption squad led all Division II teams in batting average - hitting an amazing .370 for the season. In his first season at Assumption in 1989, Vigness was hired as head softball coach, assistant women’s basketball coach and women’s trainer before dropping the latter two positions to concentrate solely on softball.
From 1986 to 1988 Vigness served as a student assistant softball coach at Central College in Pella, Iowa, where he graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and recreation. Central College reached the Division III national quarterfinals in each of Vigness’ three seasons there, finishing as the national runner-up in 1986 and national champion in 1988.
A two-year letterwinner in football at Central College, Vigness lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track at Nesco High School in Zearing, Iowa. As a senior, he was the captain of both the football and basketball teams and earned all-conference honors in both football and baseball.
Vigness and his wife, Cris, have three sons: Brady, Boyd and Bryce.ea