Creighton’s coaching staff spent some time this summer studying the offensive slump that spoiled the Jays’ chance at a late-season run last spring.
Their conclusion: It wasn’t just one of those ill-timed stretches of misfortune, where the game’s breaks all seem to go against you.
CU’s opponents found a tactical advantage late in the year. And they limited the Creighton lineup as a result — the Jays hit .201 (with zero homers) and averaged just 3.1 runs in the season’s final 11 games, ultimately bounced out of the Big East tournament with 2-0 and 2-1 defeats.
“I think we need to have a better plan,” coach Ed Servais said earlier this month. “We were too easy to pitch to last year. So a lot of our early work this fall has been about just getting the guys to use the whole field and understand if I can hit the ball the other way with some authority, I become more difficult to pitch to.”
The results have been mixed, depending on the player, according to Servais.
And that’s expected. Any team-wide tweak to an approach at the plate takes countless reps to implement, he said.
That’s why they’re working through some of the kinks this fall. And hopefully the concepts will stick.
“The beauty of the baseball season is we have time to do this,” Servais said. “We get six weeks to figure out some things that we felt we needed to address. And the team has been very open-minded to it.”
The Jays had individual work for a couple of weeks in August. They started fall ball practices on Sept. 4.
They’ll get game-like reps on Friday when they travel to face Nebraska for a 5 p.m. scrimmage at Haymarket Park. They’re also scheduled to play UNO on Sept. 25.
So CU’s hitters will have some good chances to test out their revamped strategies.
“If we can find a way to put the ball in play, good things will happen,” Servais said.
A few players to watch for the Jays this fall:
Outfielder Alan Roden, the 2021 Big East freshman of the year, hit .348 with five home runs, 32 runs, 28 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 44 games in the New England Collegiate Baseball League this past summer.
Big East pitcher of the year Dylan Tebrake was deliberately limited this summer. The junior right-hander allowed one run and struck out 12 batters in 11 innings in the MLB draft prospect league.
Junior right-hander Tommy Steier had a 2.70 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 40 innings of work in the California Collegiate League this summer. He struck out 47 batters.
Among the notable offseason additions for the Jays are UNO grad transfer outfielder Chris Esposito, Notre Dame transfer infielder Kyle Hess and freshman outfielder Tate Gillen.