While her high school classmates were embarking on their last semester of classes at Lincoln Southwest, Liz Dike was on the softball field, preparing to embark on her first season in what will be a storied Bluejay career.
The senior shortstop had a rare experience in her first year with Creighton after graduating from high school a semester early. She joined the team in January 2012 and played in her first game on Feb. 11 that same year. She recorded two hits and two RBIs and scored three runs in the 18-0 victory over Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
“It was a learning experience,” Dike said. “I had to pretty much learn a whole semester’s worth of softball in like a month … It was scary.”
“She had to play catch-up, and there were times that was hard for her,” coach Brent Vigness said. “She was a really gifted athlete in high school and had all kinds of success. It maybe wasn’t fair to her, even though she was athletic and gifted, as without the preparation she was competing against Division I schools right away.”
She went on to start every game during her freshman campaign for the Bluejays. Her six home runs ranked fourth on the team. She finished the year with a .212 batting average with 25 RBIs and 21 runs. However, she led the team with 56 strikeouts.
She played every inning of every game at shortstop and became the first Bluejay since 2009 to start every game at the same position.
This season, Dike is on a tear as Creighton looks to impress in the team’s second season in the Big East. The Jays are 15-9 with a 2-5 mark in the Big East.
Creighton is tied for seventh in the Big East standings.
“Liz maybe has grown as much as anybody that we’ve had in my time at Creighton,” Vigness said.
Dike is dominating nearly every offensive category for the Bluejays in 2015. Her .452 batting average is more than .150 points higher than her next highest teammate. Her three doubles, five triples, 27 RBIs, 20 runs, 10 stolen bases and .877 slugging percentage all lead the team. She also has six home runs.
Dike leads the Big East Conference in batting average and slugging percentage.
“My perspective has changed,” Dike said. “I think I took my first three years for granted, but I’m trying to cherish every moment this year.”
In Creighton’s first season in the Big East, Dike’s 101 total bases were 32 more than her next highest teammate. She hit .259 and led the team with 41 RBIs, 37 runs and .594 slugging percentage.
She has named first team All-Big East as her 16 home runs led the conference. She also led the league in runs, RBIs, home runs and total bases during conference play.
Named second team All-MVC in her sophomore season, Dike’s .348 batting percentage was second on the team. Her three triples and six stolen bases led the team, and she added seven doubles, five home runs, 12 RBIs and 24 runs.
“Liz has always had a love for the game and really does not like to lose,” junior catcher Blake Ringle said. “She always has that driving edge. Being a senior and realizing that these are her last games really drives her to make herself better and help the team.”
In her senior year at Lincoln Southwest, Dike set the Nebraska Class A record for home runs with 16. Her 53 RBIs, 76 hits and 70 runs scored were also Class A records. She hit .487 while also lettering in soccer and basketball. The Omaha World-Herald named her to its All-State team.
Dike looks to help the Bluejays get back on the winning track after the team was swept by Villanova last week.
“Obviously our trip last week wasn’t what we wanted,” Vigness said. “It was a very long trip. We were gone about a week and on top of that we had some weather issues so we didn’t play as many games, which made it even longer.”
Creighton split a doubleheader against South Dakota on Wednesday afternoon. The Bluejays fell 20-12 in eight innings in game one and won 7-6 in game two.
The Jays will meet the Seton Hall Pirates at the CU Sports Complex this weekend. The teams will begin a doubleheader at noon on Saturday and finish the series with an 11 a.m. game on Sunday. Seton Hall is 15-19 with a 4-4 record in the Big East.
Creighton lost two of three against the Pirates last season. The Bluejays took the opener in South Orange, New Jersey 12-0 in five innings before falling 5-3 and 1-0.
Dike had three RBIs in the first game before going 1-for-7 in the final games of the series.
Dike’s brother, Ian, played for the Creighton baseball team from 2007-10.