Published November 20, 2014
Maybe only the most ardent Creighton fans believe the Bluejays can make it to the College World Series, which will be played a few blocks from campus at the new TD Ameritrade Park.
Imagine if they do, though.
"They won't have any problem selling tickets to that game," coach Ed Servais said Tuesday. "In fact, they may be disappointed they didn't expand the stadium if that ever comes about."
To Servais, the prospect of a true home team christening the CWS stadium is a dream right now.
Creighton is the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Corvallis Regional, and Servais said he has enough to think about with Friday's first-round game against No. 3 seed Georgia (31-30). Host Oregon State (38-17) and Arkansas-Little Rock (24-32) also are in the bracket.
Creighton (44-14) rolls into tournament after sweeping the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament championships for the first time, clinching both titles at the new ballpark. The Bluejays started playing at TD Ameritrade Park in April and are 14-4 in the 24,000-seat stadium.
"We were like 6-year-old kids walking into Yankee Stadium," outfielder Trever Adams said.
The Bluejays, built on defense and pitching, are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 with one of their best teams since 1991.
Hendry and other members of the '91 team visited last month. They gave a pep talk, reminding the players that even a team from a 6,000-student Jesuit school can play at the highest level.
"We have a poster upstairs (in the players' lounge) that shows the '91 team being there and with all the Creighton fans behind them," said Jonas Dufek, the Bluejays' No. 1 pitcher. "It's always in the back of your mind."
Creighton thrives on the underdog role and understands it must achieve on a grand scale to command the spotlight.
As the Bluejays were wrapping up the MVC regular-season title with a sweep of Missouri State two weeks ago, the talk among local sports fans was about the firing of Mike Anderson as coach of a Nebraska program that finished last in the Big 12.
This past weekend, as Creighton was winning the Valley tournament in Omaha, the emphasis was on the pending transfer of a backup quarterback at Nebraska.
The Bluejays aren't getting too much attention yet, kind of like when Valley coaches picked them fifth in the league in the preseason poll.
"I think it's one of the things that motivates us, to be honest with you," Servais said. "I always tell our players we play a lot better when we play with a chip on our shoulders. Whether we're flying under the radar, not getting the respect we deserve, we're going to use it as a way to guide these guys to play at a higher level."
The Bluejays will get plenty of attention if they can make it through this week's regional.
"We're not going to go out there and just roll it out and say, 'OK, we're done,' Adams said. "Our goal has been to get to June somehow and then keep playing."