Creighton won’t ease into the softball season at the Kajikawa Classic.

Just the opposite.

“We have five games against good competition. It will be an opportunity to get tested and see where we’re at,” coach Brent Vigness said. “We open with arguably one of our tougher games of the season with Tennessee.”

The Bluejays travel to Tempe, Arizona, to play the Volunteers at 3 p.m. and Boise State at 5:45 Thursday. They’ll take on Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside on Friday and BYU on Saturday.

Four of CU’s opening opponents finished last season with an RPI of 70 or higher — Tennessee (9), Cal State Northridge (51), BYU (56), and UC Riverside (70).

Tennessee advanced to the program’s seventh Women’s College World Series last season, while Northridge and BYU were the regular-season champions in the Big West and West Coast Conferences, respectively.

“We just hope to get better each game. We are excited about the opportunity,” Vigness said. “Hopefully we at least begin to get some answers this first weekend of the season.”

The Bluejays return nine starters, including All-Big East second-team selections Allie Reinhart, who hit.396 in league play, and catcher Blake Ringle, who blasted 10 home runs. They’ll have to find run production after the graduation of shortstop Liz Dike, who batted .418 last season.

Vigness is happy to have so many experienced players back. He’s also got two returning pitchers in junior Sydnee Eck and senior Micaela Whitney. Eck started 19 games last season, earning a team-best 11 wins with a 3.17 ERA. Whitney started 21, going 9-10 in 132 innings.

Vigness expects help from freshman left-hander Michal Hylton, as well.

The Bluejays got a chance to get outside Wednesday with a two-hour practice.

“When you go from 36 degrees to 86 degrees, you’re certainly not complaining,” Vigness said. “With four games in a 24-hour period — two afternoon games and two morning games — it will be a shock to their systems, but it will be a good test.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1034, marjie.ducey@owh.com

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