The 21st-ranked Nebraska softball team will continue its homestand with a busy week at Bowlin Stadium. The Huskers host UNO at 3 p.m. on Tuesday before facing North Dakota State in a Wednesday doubleheader at 2 p.m. NU then wraps up its eight-game homestand by opening Big Ten Conference play this weekend with a three-game series against Northwestern on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are available for every game this week and fans can purchase single-game or season tickets online at Huskers.com, over the phone by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED, in person weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Nebraska Ticket Office (located on Stadium Drive across the street from West Memorial Stadium) or on game days beginning 90 minutes prior to first pitch at the Bowlin Stadium ticket office (located at the main entrance behind home plate). Fans unable to make it out to Bowlin Stadium can follow Tuesday and Wednesday’s games online, as Nate Rohr will call all of the action for a free radio broadcast on Huskers.com, while HuskersNSide subscribers can watch all three games.
Nebraska opened its homestand with a sweep of New Mexico State last weekend. The Huskers defeated the Aggies 4-1 in 10 innings in game one on Friday, before run-ruling NMSU 8-0 in five innings in game two. The teams were scheduled to play a third game, but that contest was canceled due to inclement weather.
The doubleheader sweep pushed Nebraska’s win streak to seven straight, its longest of the season and the longest by a Husker team since the 2011 squad won nine straight games in late February and early March. The Huskers have not lost since losing the first game of a doubleheader at top-ranked Oklahoma on March 2.
Freshman Kiki Stokes and junior Tatum Edwards helped the Husker win streak grow to seven last week. Stokes hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Nebraska to the game-one victory against New Mexico State. Edwards then threw a two-hit shutout and hit a three-run home run in game two. Nebraska has homered in each of its last seven games, homering 13 times during that stretch, including eight home runs from the Huskers’ talented freshman class.
Nebraska is 18-5 overall this season, with wins over No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 23 Florida State. All five of the Huskers’ losses have come to top-20 opponents. UNO has been similarly impressive, winning five games in a row to bring a 22-2 record into Tuesday’s game. North Dakota State is 12-12.
Scouting the UNO Mavericks (22-2)
UNO brings a 22-2 record and a five-game winning streak into Tuesday’s matchup with Nebraska. The Mavericks were scheduled to play four games last week, but their home opener with the Huskers was postponed until March 26 and a three-game Summit League weekend series with North Dakota State was canceled. UNO has not played since March 10. In addition to the five-game win streak, the Mavs have won 14 of their last 15 games, with their only loss during that stretch coming to 16th-ranked Washington. UNO is 1-1 against Big Ten Conference opponents this season, defeating Indiana, 5-0, and losing to Iowa, 2-1. The Mavs also own a 1-0, eight-inning victory over Oklahoma State.
Offensively, UNO is batting .318 as a team while averaging 6.4 runs per game. The Mavericks have not been shut out this season and have slugged 32 doubles, 12 triples and 28 home runs. Molly Negrete, one of seven Mavericks hitting above .300, leads the team with a .402 average and seven doubles. She has also produced 21 RBIs, one of three Mavs with more than 20 RBIs. Creighton transfer Allie Mathewson is batting .398 with five doubles, five triples, nine homers, 27 RBIs and eight stolen bases. Ditto Campbell is hitting .359 with seven doubles, four triples, three home runs and 15 RBIs, while Amber Lutmer leads UNO with 10 home runs, 34 RBIs and 18 walks to complement a .328 batting average. Tara Trede (.373), Sydney Hames (.333) and Lindsay Redding (.301) round out the group of seven Mavs hitting better than .300 this season.
In the circle, UNO has primarily relied on junior ace Dana Elsasser, who allowed only one earned run in 14.0 innings against Nebraska last season. Elsasser has appeared in 17 of UNO’s 24 games this spring, including 15 starts and 12 complete games. She has thrown seven shutouts and added two saves, while posting a 13-2 record with a 1.52 ERA in 97.0 innings. Elsasser boasts a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 5-to-1, striking out 71 while walking only 15. Ashton Hughes has seen the most action behind Elsasser, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.79 ERA in six appearances, four starts and 27.1 innings. Kat Barrow has also helped back up Elsasser, compiling a 4-0 record with a 1.66 ERA in four appearances, four starts and 25.1 innings. Kayla Wyatt (0-0, 1.68 ERA in 8.1 IP) rounds out a Maverick staff that has allowed only three home runs this season. UNO also plays solid defense behind its pitching staff, boasting a .970 fielding percentage.
Husker History vs. UNO
Nebraska leads the all-time series with UNO, 13-10. The teams met for the first time since 1982 last season, as the Mavericks began their transition from Division II to Division I. UNO won’t be eligible for postseason play until 2016, once they have fully transitioned to the Division I level. Despite their transitional status, UNO will count as a Division I opponent for RPI purposes.
The Huskers earned a pair of one-run victories over UNO last season to stretch their series win streak to four. Overall, the Huskers have won eight of the last nine. A win on Tuesday would give Nebraska a five-game win streak in the series, the longest for either team. NU has won four straight games in the series twice, while UNO won the first four meetings. The teams met eight times in 1977 alone, with UNO winning six of those eight games. Nebraska leads the all-time series 6-5 in Lincoln, and the Huskers hold a 6-4 series edge in Omaha. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 2-0 against UNO and 2-0 vs. Maverick Head Coach Jeanne Scarpello.
Last year, UNO ace Dana Elsasser pitched well against the Huskers, but took the loss in both games. In the first meeting, UNO took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, before the Huskers scored twice in the fourth and held on for a 2-1 win. Taylor Edwards had two hits in the victory, while Courtney Breault produced Nebraska’s lone RBI, as only one of the two runs Elsasser allowed was earned.
In game two in Omaha, the game was scoreless heading in the eighth inning, before Taylor Edwards singled home Mattie Fowler to lift Nebraska to a 1-0 victory. Edwards had two hits in the victory, as she accounted for four of NU’s 15 hits in the two games. Fowler also added two hits, while Elsasser allowed one run on seven hits.
Scouting the North Dakota State Bison (12-12)
North Dakota State will play its first games in a week on Wednesday, after its Summit League series at UNO was canceled last weekend. The Bison have won two straight and eight of their last 10. Four of their 12 losses have come to ranked teams, and they also own a 3-0 road victory at No. 23 Georgia.
Offensively, North Dakota State is batting .213 as a team while averaging 3.6 runs per game. Jenina Ortega is the only NDSU player hitting above .250, as she leads the team with a .340 average, while adding two doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBIs. Logan Moreland is hitting .250 with a team-high 18 walks, while Cheyenne Garcia is batting .230 and leads the Bison with four doubles and 14 RBIs. Alyssa Reina has slugged a team-high three home runs.
Defensively, North Dakota State boasts a 2.84 team ERA and a .974 fielding percentage. The Bison are allowing 3.4 runs per game, while limiting opponents to a .209 batting average. Whitney Johnson has thrown the majority of the innings, posting an 8-6 record with a 1.78 ERA in 94.1 innings. She has struck out 104 batters while throwing five shutouts and holding opposing hitters to a paltry .166 batting average. Krista Menke, a native of Friend, Neb., has also seen extensive action, posting a 4-6 record with a 4.49 ERA in 53.0 innings. Tabby Bayers (0-0, 4.06 ERA in 10.1 IP) rounds out the North Dakota State staff.
Husker History vs. North Dakota State
Nebraska is 15-0 all-time against North Dakota State, but the recent meetings have been close. Three of the last four meetings have been decided by one run, including a pair of extra-inning victories, while six of the last eight contests have been decided by two runs or less. The teams last met in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, with the Huskers winning an elimination matchup, 5-1, on the campus of the University of Washington. The programs last met in the regular season in 2009, when Nebraska swept a doubleheader from the Bison at Bowlin Stadium, winning 2-1 in nine innings in game one and 3-2 in 10 innings in game two.
Twelve of the 15 all-time meetings have come in Lincoln, including nine meetings at Bowlin Stadium since 2005. North Dakota State has been held to two runs or less in each of the last 12 meetings, scoring two runs three times, one run three times and being shut out six times. The Huskers are not only 15-0 all-time against North Dakota State, but also 41-0 vs. the four Division I Dakota softball programs (North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota and South Dakota State). Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 11-0 in her career against NDSU and Bison Head Coach Darren Mueller.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes as the 21st-ranked Huskers continue an eight-game homestand with mid-week matchups against UNO and North Dakota State.
- Nebraska owns an all-time record of 438-250 (.637) in the month of March. The Huskers have posted a winning month of March for 17 straight seasons dating back to 1994. NU is 7-1 in March this season.
- NU’s roster features seven freshmen, tying for the most freshmen in Coach Revelle’s 21 seasons (also 2008).
- Five freshmen started the season opener, the most in Coach Revelle’s tenure and believed to be the most ever.
- NU’s starting lineup has featured at least three freshmen in every game, including 10 games with five freshmen.
- Nebraska has allowed one run or less in 15 of its 23 games this season, including nine shutouts. In 55 games last season, NU allowed one run or less just 16 times, posting 13 shutouts.
- Nebraska’s first four hitters in the batting order (Kiki Stokes, Gabby Banda, Taylor Edwards and Brooke Thomason) have remained the same for all 23 games this season.
- Six Huskers have started all 23 games at the same position this spring (Taylor Edwards - C, Hailey Decker - 2B, Gabby Banda, - 3B, Jordan Bettiol - LF, Kiki Stokes - CF, Brooke Thomason - RF).
- Nebraska has scored at least three runs in 15 of its last 16 home games.
- Husker pitching has not allowed an extra-base hit in 11 of its 23 games this season.
- In the circle, 22 of the 54 hits Tatum Edwards has allowed this season have been infield singles (41 percent).
- Nine of Tatum Edwards’ 11 hits this season have gone for extra bases, including four doubles and five homers.
- Taylor Edwards is five walks shy of passing Jennifer Lizama (92) for the most walks through a player’s first three seasons in school history.
- Taylor Edwards is also 11 RBIs from entering Nebraska’s all-time top five.
- Gabby Banda is two hit-by-pitches from moving into Nebraska’s all-time top five.
- Banda is three doubles shy of cracking Nebraska’s all-time top 10.
- Banda is five walks from moving into Nebraska’s all-time top 10.
- Banda has started 158 consecutive games for the Huskers.
- Brooke Thomason is three extra-base hits shy of moving into Nebraska’s all-time top five.
- Tatum and Taylor Edwards, along with Brooke Thomason, each homered against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 9. That marked the third time in their careers that all three players had homered in the same game, while also marking the eighth time that the Edwards twins had homered in the same game.
Nebraska leads the Big Ten Conference with 27 home runs this season, four more than Minnesota. The Huskers have increased their home run lead thanks to a recent power surge. Nebraska has homered in seven consecutive games, slugging 13 home runs during that stretch, including four games with at least two home runs.
Leading the way the past seven games is freshman Dawna Tyson, who has slugged three home runs. Classmates Alicia Armstrong and Kiki Stokes, along with junior twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards, have homered twice during the streak. Adding one home run each during the streak are freshmen Hailey Decker and senior Brooke Thomason.
Led by its recent power surge, Nebraska hit 25 home runs in only 21 games. This year’s group hit 25 home runs faster than any other team in school history, eclipsing the previous mark set by the 1998 team, who hit its 25th home run in its 26th game. Overall, this year marks just the fourth time in Husker history that Nebraska has recorded 25 home runs prior to the 30th game of a season.
This year’s team has good company among the other three teams to produce 25 home runs in fewer than 30 games. The 1998 Huskers posted the best winning percentage in school history and finished in a tie for fifth at the Women’s College World Series. The 2011 Huskers nearly cracked the top 10 while posting the best non-conference record in school history, while the 2002 Huskers also finished in a tie for fifth at the Women’s College World Series in Nebraska’s last appearance in the event.
Nine Huskers have homered already this season - one shy of the school record - with senior Brooke Thomason and junior twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards tied for the team lead with five home runs each. Freshmen Hailey Decker and Dawna Tyson have each homered three times, while freshmen Alicia Armstrong and Kiki Stokes have hit two home runs each. Senior Courtney Breault and junior Kylee Muir have each homered.
Nebraska is currently on pace to hit 63 homers in a 54-game schedule, which would break the school record of 62 home runs in 1998. The Huskers could also field a lineup this season where all nine players in the batting order have home run, a feat that would be a first in school history. The Huskers’ starting batting order for their last game against New Mexico State featured seven players who had homered this season. The only two players without a home run in that lineup were senior Gabby Banda and sophomore Mattie Fowler. Both are more than capable of hitting home runs, as Fowler homered five times in 2012, while Banda produced four home runs.
From a career standpoint, this year’s team features three of the top 10 home run hitters in school history in Thomason and the Edwards twins, all three of whom have hit at least 26 home runs. Thomason leads the way with 30 career home runs - fourth in school history - while Taylor ranks in a tie for sixth with 28 homers and Tatum sits in a tie for 10th place with 26 home runs.
Nebraska has three players in the same lineup with 20 career home runs for only the third time in school history (also in 1998 and 2012). This year marks the first time Nebraska has ever opened a season with three players who have all homered at least 20 times in their career.
Tyson Hitting Well
Freshman Dawna Tyson is making a strong push to become Nebraska’s starting designated player this season. Four different Huskers - including Tyson - have earned starts as the designated player, but Tyson may be separating herself from the pack with some outstanding recent performances. Tyson has started nine of the last 10 games overall, including each of her six starts as the designated player during that stretch.
In her six starts as the designated player, Tyson is 9-for-18 (.500) with three home runs, five runs scored, eight RBIs, one hit-by-pitch and a 1.000 slugging percentage. While starting five of the last six games as the designated player, Tyson has gone 9-for-15 (.600) with three home runs, five runs scored, eight RBIs and a 1.200 slugging percentage. She homered in three consecutive games at one point.
Husker Pitchers Hard to Hit
Nebraska’s pitching staff has proven hard to hit through 23 games this season. The Huskers, who rank second in the Big Ten with a 1.67 ERA against one of the league’s toughest schedules, have shut out a league-high nine opponents this year while holding six more opponents to only a single run. Nebraska also leads the league in fewest hits allowed and opponent batting average.
Opponents are hitting just .201 against Husker pitching, 20 points lower than any other Big Ten team. Of the 108 hits Nebraska has allowed, only 19 have gone for extra-bases, including just seven home runs. The Huskers have allowed the fewest extra-base hits of any Big Ten team. Nebraska has also owned a season ERA below 2.00 following 21 of its 23 games this season, including twice where the Huskers’ season ERA was below 1.00. Last year, the lowest Nebraska’s season ERA stood after any one game was 2.79.
Nebraska owns seven more victories through 23 games this season than it did through 23 games last year, while allowing 48 fewer runs (2.1 fewer runs per game).
Stokes Coming Through in the Clutch
Freshman Kiki Stokes, Nebraska’s leadoff hitter and fastest player, has proven to be more than just a slapper the past two weekends. Primarily known for her speed and small-ball approach, Stokes has come through with clutch, late-inning hits that helped lead Nebraska to victory.
On March 9 in game one of a doubleheader at Wichita State, Stokes stepped to the plate in a 1-1 tie with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. The Shockers had the momentum after tying the game in the bottom of the sixth, but Stokes came through with the game-winning hit. With the outfield drawn in to guard against her slapping abilities, Stokes lined a ball between the left and center fielders that rolled all the way to the wall. She turned on her speed and made it all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run that provided the winning margin.
Six days later in the home opener against New Mexico State, Stokes stepped to the plate again in a 1-1 tie, this time with runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning. She went after the first pitch she saw and hit a towering home run to left center field for her first career walk-off home run. Stokes is batting .353 this season with runners in scoring position.
Tatum Edwards In Control in the Circle
Tatum Edwards has been one of the Big Ten’s best pitchers this season, posting an 11-4 record with a 1.92 ERA. She ranks fourth in the league in wins, fifth in opponent batting average and eighth in ERA while making starts against No. 1 Oklahoma (twice), No. 9 Oregon, No. 16 Arizona and No. 23 Florida State. Edwards has been terrific the past two weeks and against non-ranked opponents this season.
Since allowing a career-high nine earned runs in 4.2 innings at No. 1 Oklahoma on March 2, Edwards has been nearly unhittable. Since that loss, Edwards has not allowed a run over her last four appearances and three starts, a scoreless inning streak that totals 20.0 innings entering this week. Edwards is 3-0 since the loss to Oklahoma, allowing only six hits in 20.0 innings. In her three starts since the OU game, Edwards fired a four-hit shutout at Oklahoma State, a one-hit shutout at Wichita State and a two-hit shutout against New Mexico State.
In addition to her recent success, Edwards has been terrific against non-ranked foes this season. In 10 appearances against non-ranked teams, Edwards is 10-0 with a 0.73 ERA in 48.0 innings. She has thrown a shutout in four of her seven starts against unranked opponents, limiting opposing hitters to a .183 batting average while striking out 40 and walking only 15.
Edwards’ numbers remain strong when you include her first start against No. 1 Oklahoma and her starts against 16th-ranked Arizona and No. 23 Florida State. In these statistics - which include all of Edwards’ appearances this season except her second start against the Sooners and her start against Oregon - Edwards is 11-2 with a 0.72 ERA. Taking out her two worst appearances of the year, Edwards has held opposing hitters to a .177 batting average on the season, while allowing only 41 hits in 68.0 innings. She has surrendered only five extra-base hits in those 13 appearances, while posting five shutouts and 55 strikeouts.
Husker Pitchers Limiting Extra-Base Hits
Unlike previous seasons, Nebraska’s staff is not as reliant on the strikeout in 2013. Husker pitchers have struck out only 104 batters in 151.0 innings, an average of only 4.8 strikeouts per game. Pitching to contact, the key to Nebraska’s success has been keeping the ball down in the zone, creating ground balls. The Huskers have succeeded in that area. Opponents are hitting only .201 against Nebraska, and opposing hitters have managed only 19 extra-base hits and seven home runs against Husker pitching in 538 at bats. Opponents are averaging an extra-base hit only once every 30.1 at bats, including 11 games where Nebraska has not allowed a single extra-base hit.