The 16th-ranked Nebraska softball team hosts a four-game homestand at Bowlin Stadium this week to close out its regular-season home schedule. The Huskers host Creighton on Wednesday in their final non-conference game of the regular season. Nebraska then hosts ninth-ranked Michigan on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a key three-game Big Ten Conference series at Bowlin Stadium.
Fans can purchase tickets to this week’s games online at Huskers.com, over the phone by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED or on game days beginning 90 minutes prior to first pitch at the Bowlin Stadium ticket office (located at the main entrance). Fans unable to make it out to Bowlin Stadium can follow every game this season through a free radio broadcast on Huskers.com. Nate Rohr will call all of the action for Huskers.com on Wednesday, with Ben McLaughlin adding color commentary.
Looking ahead to Saturday, fans are asked to come out and help Nebraska break last year’s record for the World’s Largest Softball Tailgate. The Huskers’ inaugural event was a success in 2012, as a record 1,752 fans attended the event, eclipsing Illinois’ previous record of 1,445 fans. Saturday’s tailgate begins at 10 a.m. and promises to be fun for the whole family. Admission is free to the tailgate and the Huskers’ 1 p.m. game with Michigan. Free hot dogs, chips and Pepsi products will be given out while supplies last. In addition to receiving free admission into the battle of the Big Ten’s two best teams, fans will have plenty of fun options before the game during the tailgate celebration. Inflatables, balloon artists, face painting and a live pregame radio show are just a few of the activities planned for Saturday’s tailgate. Members of the Nebraska softball team, as well as student-athletes from other Husker teams will also be signing autographs before the game.
Getting back to Wednesday’s game, the Huskers are looking for a series sweep over Creighton, after winning 4-3 in Omaha on April 3. Nebraska has won three straight home games in the series, and the Huskers own a 22-6 record against non-conference opponents this season, with five of the six losses coming to ranked teams. Nebraska has also been successful at home, as the Huskers have won 32 of their last 36 home games dating back to 2011. NU is 11-2 at Bowlin Stadium this spring.
A successful week would help strengthen Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament resume. NU climbed five spots to No. 10 in this week’s NCAA RPI ranking, released on Monday. The Huskers went 5-1 last week, sweeping a doubleheader from No. 34 Minnesota before winning 2-of-3 games at No. 84 Purdue. NU owns the nation’s 19th-best winning percentage against the eighth-toughest schedule in the country.
Scouting the Creighton Bluejays (26-12)
Creighton brings a 26-12 overall record into Wednesday’s game, as the Bluejays have won seven of their last eight games. CU has played only nine games - posting a 7-2 record - since falling to Nebraska, 4-3, in the teams’ first meeting this season on April 3.
Offensively, Creighton is averaging 4.8 runs per game while slugging 43 home runs and batting .271 as a team. The Bluejays have been strong at the plate of late, slugging 15 home runs and averaging 5.4 runs per game over their 10 games this month. CU is led by Amy Baker, a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection. Baker leads Creighton with a .409 average this spring, and she is also the Bluejays’ leader with 16 homers, 39 RBIs, an .909 slugging percentage and a .519 on-base percentage. Baker is Creighton’s all-time leader with 57 career home runs and 164 RBIs. She also set Missouri Valley Conference all-time home run record and RBI records earlier this month. Baker ranks sixth nationally in home runs per game this season and fifth in slugging percentage. Behind Baker, Liz Dike is batting .348 with seven doubles, three triples and three home runs. Blair Lowe is the only other Bluejay hitting above .300, posting a .327 average with a team-high eight doubles. Blake Ringle and Bri Lingl have added six home runs for Creighton, while Alexis Cantu leads the Bluejays with 26 walks. Cantu has also homered six times, including one in the first meeting with Nebraska.
In the circle, Becca Changstrom is the Bluejays’ ace. Changstrom is 19-6 on the year with five shutouts and a 1.56 ERA in 161.1 innings. She has thrown more than 60 percent of Creighton’s total innings, starting 23 of CU’s 38 games and posting 22 complete games. Opponents are hitting just .195 against Changstrom and have struck out 208 times, as she boasts an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 5-to-1. Changstrom ranks 24th nationally in shutouts, 19th in strikeouts per seven innings and 26th in ERA. Cantu has seen the most action behind Changstrom, posting a 6-5 record with a 2.73 ERA in 64.0 innings. Sammy Snygg (0-0, 4.85 ERA in 4.1 IP) and Brittany Telecky (1-1, 5.25 ERA in 21.1 IP) round out the Creighton staff.
Husker History vs. Creighton
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Creighton, 80-37, after the Huskers won the first meeting this season in Omaha, 4-3, on April 3. The teams split the season series last year, with each team winning at home. The Huskers’ 80 victories against Creighton are unofficially the fifth-most victories over one opponent in NCAA Division I history. NU owns a 38-15 advantage in Lincoln, including a 10-5 record at Bowlin Stadium. CU has won four of the last seven games at Bowlin Stadium, despite Nebraska winning three straight at home. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 52-14 against the Bluejays in her career and 49-12 against 20th-year Creighton Head Coach Brent Vigness.
In the first meeting this year, Alexis Cantu gave Creighton a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first inning. Nebraska tied the game in its next at bat with back-to-back homers from Mattie Fowler and Hailey Decker. The Huskers built a 4-2 lead with a single run in the fifth and seventh innings. Creighton then pulled within one and loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, before Tatum Edwards struck out the final two hitters to win her ninth straight start. Edwards tossed a four-hitter and struck out 11 in the win. Becca Changstrom took the loss for Creighton, allowing nine hits and four runs in a complete-game effort.
Several current Huskers have enjoyed success in their career against Creighton. Alicia Armstrong is 2-for-3 against the Bluejays, while Decker is 1-for-3 with a home run. Taylor Edwards is 4-for-13 against the Bluejays with a home run, six RBIs and a .550 on-base percentage in five games. Fowler is 3-for-9 with two home runs, while Brooke Thomason is 5-for-19 against the Bluejays with eight RBIs in six games.
In the circle, Tatum Edwards is 2-0 with a 2.71 ERA in two career starts against the Bluejays. Creighton’s Becca Changstrom has started four of the Bluejays’ five games against Nebraska the past three seasons, posting a 1-3 record with a 3.23 ERA, 13 walks, 18 strikeouts and five home runs allowed in 26.0 innings.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes heading into this weekend:
- Nebraska owns an all-time record of 487-236 (.674) in the month of April. NU is 9-3 in April this season.
- NU was ranked 10th in the fifth NCAA RPI ranking released Monday. The Huskers were the second-highest ranked Big Ten team behind No. 9 Michigan, while overall the conference had five teams ranked in the top 34.
- 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 16 games with five freshmen.
- The freshmen have combined for 29 extra-base hits, the eighth-highest total by a freshman class in school history.
- Nebraska has allowed one run or less in 22 of its 44 games this season, including 13 shutouts. In 55 games last season, NU allowed one run or less just 16 times, posting 13 shutouts.
- Five Huskers have started all 44 games at the same position this spring (Taylor Edwards - C; Hailey Decker - 2B; Gabby Banda - 3B; Kiki Stokes - CF; Brooke Thomason - RF).
- Nebraska had a series of streaks broken in Sunday’s loss at Purdue. In addition to snapping the Huskers’ five-game win streak and four-game road win streak, the loss marked Nebraska first loss this season when scoring first (25-1), first loss when scoring in the first inning (15-1) and first loss when scoring five-or-more runs (19-1).
- Nebraska has won seven straight extra-inning games dating back to 2012. NU is 4-0 in extra innings this spring and 3-0 all-time in extra-inning Big Ten games.
- In the circle, 45 of the 116 hits Tatum Edwards has allowed this season have been infield singles (39 percent).
- Offensively, 16 of Tatum Edwards’ 25 hits have gone for extra bases, including seven doubles and nine homers.
- Gabby Banda is one double shy of cracking Nebraska’s all-time top 10.
- Banda has started 179 consecutive games for the Huskers.
- Banda’s 34 walks this season rank second the Big Ten and rank ninth in school history. She is six walks from tying the Nebraska record for walks in a season (40).
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game nine times in their careers, including twice in 2013.
Husker Offense Threatening School Records
Nebraska’s offense is on pace to challenge several school records this season. While that statement speaks to the success the Husker offense has enjoyed, the strong season is even more impressive considering at least three freshmen have been in the starting batting order in 41 of Nebraska’s 44 games this season.
Entering play this week, Nebraska owns the best on-base percentage in school history with a mark of .400, nine points ahead of the 2011 team’s record mark of .391. The 2011 squad also totaled a school-record .467 slugging percentage, while this year’s group is slugging .461, good for third in school history. Nebraska’s .297 batting average currently ranks fourth in school history and would mark the third straight season the Husker offense has posted a top-five team batting average.
Despite playing only 44 games and competing against some years where Nebraska played as many as 73 games, this year’s offense has also put up impressive cumulative totals that rank among the best in school history. NU’s 44 home runs rank sixth in school history and this year’s squad is only three home runs from moving into fourth place on that list. The school record is 62 set in 1998. Nebraska has also been hit by 30 pitches this spring, a total that ranks seventh in school history. The Huskers have also drawn 175 walks and are on pace to surpass last year’s school-record total of 204 walks. Finally, Nebraska has produced 112 extra-base hits through only 44 games, an average of more than 2.5 extra-base hits per game. The Huskers enter this week in a tie for 10th in school history in that category, just 12 shy of moving into the top five.
Husker Home Run Hitters
Junior Tatum Edwards hit a game-tying seventh-inning home run in game one of a doubleheader at Purdue last Saturday, marking her 30th career home run. Only six players in school history have slugged 30 career home runs, and Edwards was the third Husker to reach the mark this season, joining her twin sister Taylor and senior Brooke Thomason. Taylor ranks third in school history with 34 home runs, while Thomason is tied for fifth with 31 homers and Tatum ranks seventh with 30 home runs. This year marks the only time in school history that a Husker lineup has featured three players with 30-or-more career home runs.
Taylor Edwards Ties NU Junior-Class RBI Record
Taylor Edwards produced two RBIs last Sunday at Purdue, giving her 47 RBIs this season, a total that ranks 43rd nationally and third in the Big Ten Conference. Edwards’ 47 RBIs tie for the most ever by a Husker junior, matching the mark set last season by Brooke Thomason. Edwards, who ranks fourth in school history with 152 RBIs, is just three RBIs shy of joining three-time All-American Ali Viola as the only Huskers to produce multiple 50-RBI seasons in a career. Previously, Edwards trailed only Viola as the top run-producing freshman in school history, driving in 67 runs in 2011.
Overall, Edwards ranks 24th nationally among all active Division I players with her 152 career RBIs, a total that ranks third among all non-seniors.
Bettiol & Breault Boast B1G Weekends
Senior Courtney Breault and sophomore Jordan Bettiol both made the most of extended playing time last weekend in Nebraska’s three-game series at Purdue. Both players started all three games, with Breault starting three consecutive games for just the second time this season, and Bettiol earning three consecutive starts in the batting order for only the third time.
Bettiol hit safely in all three games, batting .667 (6-for-9) with a double, an RBI, four runs scored and two walks. She posted a .727 on-base percentage and .777 slugging percentage. Bettiol set a career high with three hits in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, while she also tied her career high in runs scored, doubles and walks in the series. Bettiol produced more hits (6-to-3), doubles (1-to-0) and walks (2-to-1) in the three-game series at Purdue than she had through her first 13 Big Ten Conference games combined, while matching her RBI total (1).
Breault has started six straight games as Nebraska’s designated player, after not starting more than one consecutive game through the season’s first 38 games. Breault went 4-for-12 (.333) last weekend at Purdue, and two of her three hits were home runs. Breault won game one of Saturday’s doubleheader with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning. Then in game two, Breault slugged a home run to open Nebraska’s five-run seventh inning. Breault finished with a season-high three RBIs in game one of the doubleheader, before tying her career high with three hits in game two. Breault, a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2012, has come on strong in conference play this spring, batting .280 with two homers and eight RBIs in league play, after hitting .111 with one home run and one RBI in non-conference action.
Armstrong Improves Throughout Outstanding Freshman Year
Alicia Armstrong has put together an impressive freshman season and one key to her great year has been her continued improvement throughout the season. Armstrong is playing her best softball this month, leading to her move up the lineup, as she has batted leadoff for the past six games.
Armstrong, who had an 11-game hitting streak snapped in her last game, has reached base safely in 19 consecutive games. During that streak, she has gone 28-for-58 (.483) at the plate with five doubles, one home run and nine RBIs. She has also drawn nine walks during the streak, posting a .552 on-base percentage to complement a .621 slugging percentage. Her hot streak has culminated with her move to the leadoff spot in the Husker lineup. In six games batting leadoff, Armstrong has posted a .600 on-base percentage with a .545 batting average. She has scored six runs and driven in five out of the leadoff spot.
A native of Beatrice, Neb., Armstrong has taken her game to the next level during Big Ten Conference play. She has hit safely in 13 of Nebraska’s 16 conference games, while posting a .480 batting average. She leads the Huskers in average, runs (15) and hits (24) during conference play. Armstrong ranks second in the Big Ten in hits in conference-only games, fifth in batting average, eighth in runs scored and ninth in on-base percentage (.559).
Finally, Armstrong has also enjoyed a terrific month of April. She is batting .512 this month with a .659 slugging percentage and .545 on-base percentage. In three fewer at bats, Armstrong has eclipsed her March totals by eight hits and two RBIs, while posting a .659 on-base percentage and a .545 on-base percentage.
High School Reunion at Bowlin Stadium
This weekend’s Big Ten Conference series between No. 16 Nebraska and No. 9 Michigan will serve as a high school reunion of sorts, with several former prep teammates facing off against each other. The most notable high reunion this weekend features Nebraska junior twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards and Michigan freshman Sierra Romero. The trio all starred at Vista Murrieta High School in Murrieta, Calif., teaming up to lead the Broncos to a runner-up finish at the 2009 CIF Southern Section playoffs.
All three players were four-time All-CIF selections, while Tatum Edwards was the California Freshman of the Year in 2007 and Taylor Edwards was the state’s Junior of the Year in 2009. Taylor Edwards (2010) and Romero (2012) were both finalists for California Ms. Softball as a senior. Statistically, Taylor Edwards tied the Inland area record with 38 career home runs in high school, a record that stood for only two years before Romero broke the mark with 45 career home runs.
Another high school reunion this weekend features Nebraska freshman pitcher Emily Lockman and Michigan junior outfielder Nicole Sappingfield, both of whom attended Norco High School in Norco, Calif. Both players were first-team ESPN High School All-Americans as a senior, and both were members of Norco’s 2009 CIF Southern Section championship team. Lockman added another Southern Section champion as a senior in 2012, when she was named California’s Ms. Softball.