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Creighton’s Baseball Analytics Team goes to the CWS

Jun 7, 2023
4 min Read
CWS Field

Tucked into the corner of the fourth floor NCAA room filled with College World Series officials sat a pair of Creighton students, each monitoring two computers whizzing as fast as the pitches they were analyzing. Their jobs: to provide advanced metrics to the NCAA, run a live Twitter feed, create graphics for each team and scout the top pitchers to better analyze their pitches.  

The students are part of the Creighton Baseball Analytics Team, a group intended for all Creighton students – not just those enrolled in the Heider College of Business – who want to work in sports after graduation. The team “is providing them with professional experience unlike any other in the sports/data world,” says Rourke Jensen, BSBA’23.  

A team effort 

CBAT is completely student-led and responsible for data collection, management, analysis and reporting for Creighton baseball’s sports performance tracking systems, Rapsodo and Trackman. Since its inception, 29 students have assisted Bluejay coaches with team analytics.  

Last summer, the NCAA enlisted CBAT’s help to assist reporting of the 2022 College World Series. The Bluejays are back in the box again this summer, lending their analytics skills to report the seminal college baseball event. 

What started out with “one guy and a notebook” at Creighton games has four years later turned into a team of 14 working the College World Series. 

CWS coverage involves multiple moving parts. Analytics team members work two-person volunteer shifts throughout the series, some taking vacation time from out-of-town internships to pitch in. Caleb Hauser is coming in from Milwaukee and Andrew Johnson from Illinois. Recent graduate Peter Rudnick, BSBA’23, is heading back to Omaha from Minnesota to help out, and Meghan Baudendistal, BSBA’23, is coming from St. Louis. Ben Morland works at Union Pacific by day, and Cam Kresko works at Elemental Scientific. Diego Dominguez is squeezing in the CWS before attending Army ROTC camp. 

The analytics team was founded in 2019 by then-Heider College of Business student Ryan Wolak, BSBA’20, and then-Creighton pitching coach Eric Wordekemper, and it grew into a new organization when Heider economics instructor, Tim Bastian, MS, approached Jensen, who was a student at the time. He quickly joined the party, and CBAT was born.  

The team is currently under the leadership of Heider students Jack Marasco, Diego Dominguez and Caleb Hauser; faculty moderators Bastian and Kate Sheehan, PhD, associate professor of economics; director emeritus Wolak; and coaching liaison Connor Gandossy, hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for the Creighton Baseball program.  

Other team members who will be fielding CWS shifts include Jensen, Marasco, Wolak, Richie Saville, Nicole Murtzel, Gillian Stanek and Trevor Ordway. 

Seeing our tweets get attention from the fans was really cool, as it signified the growing reach of our program.
— Peter Rudnick, BSBA’23

A home run on social media  

Surprisingly, until CBAT’s participation, the CWS did not track analytics. CBAT’s involvement last summer was not only a coup for Creighton but groundbreaking for the CWS. 

The NCAA social media team was not as familiar with Trackman’s complicated advanced metrics as members of the analytics team, thus giving rise to the partnership. The program’s exposure exploded. Followers on Twitter doubled within the first week of the 2022 CWS, attributable in part to students sharing interesting CWS team stats with the public.  

“Seeing our tweets get attention from the fans was really cool, as it signified the growing reach of our program,” Rudnick says. “Obviously, being in the booth for the games and spending time around people working in sports was great, but it was more rewarding to see how far our group has come.” 

“The most challenging part of the job was determining what information was really important and what was most worth sharing,” Rudnick adds. “The most rewarding part was seeing the public reaction on Twitter to the stats we found and the graphics we made. Seeing the love on the tweets made all the time spent on analytics even more worth it.” 

Preparation, as well as practice, makes perfect. In fact, CBAT leadership believes the hours of prep the students conduct prior to the series opening – creating unique graphics for each team, scouting their pitchers, scheduling games, generating interest by reaching out to connections – resulted in the success CBAT enjoyed in its inaugural year with the NCAA, and will again this year.  

Amplified engagement between CBAT and baseball fans is one of the goals this year, thanks to their mounting social media presence.  

“Our tweets feature graphics and put metrics into terms everyone can understand. The increase in people supporting us this year will enable us to keep up social media channels live during the game!” says Dominguez. 

“Last year’s CWS brought a lot of exciting opportunities to Creighton Baseball Analytics. We had more recognition in two weeks last summer than our team has ever had, and we’re honored to be a part of it!” he continues. “This year, we want to continue to push our connections in baseball operations and the sports industry. Many members who have a drive to work in sports have garnered much success by achieving internships. Our team has an outstanding opportunity to keep growing with these connections as we’ve even been able to help MLB organizations gain insights on college baseball players due to our role last season. We hope to continue this trend and give our members an opportunity to excel at the next level!”  

For Hauser, CBAT’s continued growth makes all the long hours and hard work worthwhile. “Last year, working the CWS put our team on the map, and I hope this year we reach even more people. Ultimately, the College World Series is the biggest stage, and our team gets to track, collect and analyze the data throughout it, which is a dream come true,” he says.