The 20th-ranked Nebraska softball team opens its Big Ten Conference schedule this weekend with a three-game series against the Northwestern Wildcats at Bowlin Stadium. In a change from the original schedule, the teams will play a doubleheader on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. The final game of the series will be played on either Saturday or Sunday, weather permitting, with an announcement on the date and time expected on Saturday morning.
Inclement weather is forecast throughout the weekend and could alter the schedule. Fans are encouraged to check Huskers.com and follow Nebraska Softball on twitter (www.twitter.com/huskersoftball) for any schedule changes.
Fans can purchase 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 every game online, as Nate Rohr will call all of the action for a free radio broadcast on Huskers.com, while HuskersNSide subscribers can watch every game.
Nebraska has already had a busy week, defeating UNO on Tuesday before splitting a doubleheader with North Dakota State on Wednesday. The Huskers rallied from a 2-1 deficit against UNO, as sophomore Mattie Fowler delivered a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Nebraska to its eighth straight victory.
Nebraska could not keep the winning streak going the next day, as a 10-run seventh inning powered North Dakota State to a 13-0 win in the first game of the doubleheader. A normally strong Husker defense committed six errors in the loss, leading to 11 unearned runs. The Huskers rebounded with a much better effort in game two, scoring in every inning en route to an 11-0, five-inning victory. Junior Tatum Edwards tossed a three-hit shutout in the game two victory, while adding a pair of solo home runs at the plate for her fifth career multi-homer game and second of the season.
Edwards has not allowed an earned run in her last 32.0 innings, while throwing four shutouts in her last five starts. She also leads NU offensively with seven home runs and a .717 slugging percentage.
While Nebraska has been busy this week, Northwestern has not played since March 10, when it lost to Loyola Marymount, 2-1. That loss snapped a six-game win streak for the 14-10 Wildcats.
Scouting the Northwestern Wildcats (14-10, 0-0 Big Ten)
Northwestern will play its first game in nearly two weeks on Friday, as the Wildcats were last in action on March 10, in a 2-1 loss to Loyola Marymount. That loss snapped a six-game win streak for Northwestern, as the Wildcats bring a 14-10 record into this weekend’s series. Northwestern has played one of the league’s toughest schedules, compiling a 1-6 record against ranked teams, including a 3-2 win over No. 8 Tennessee. The Huskers and Wildcats share three common opponents this season in No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Cal and No. 22 Arizona. Nebraska posted a 1-4 record against that group, while Northwestern went 0-3 against those opponents.
Offensively, Northwestern is batting .300 as a team, the fifth-best mark in the Big Ten Conference. The Wildcats are averaging 4.5 runs per game and have only been shut out once this season. Andrea DiPrima is one of seven Wildcats hitting better than .300 this spring. DiPrima leads Northwestern with a .368 average. Brianna LeBeau is hitting .357 and Kristin Scharkey is batting .342. Mari Majam is hitting .313 and leads Northwestern with six stolen bases, while Anna Edwards is hitting .304 with a team-high five doubles and three home runs. All-American Marisa Bast is batting .302 with team-high totals of seven home runs and 24 RBIs.
Defensively, Northwestern owns a 2.51 ERA, while allowing 3.5 runs per game. The Wildcat defense is averaging nearly 1.5 errors per game, which have led to 27 unearned runs in only 24 games. Amy Letourneau is the staff ace, posting an 8-6 record with a 1.70 ERA in 90.1 innings. Opponents are hitting only .170 against her and have struck out 127 times. She has also walked 59 batters and hit 21 more. Meghan Lamberth has also seen extensive action in the circle, posting a 6-3 record with a 1.71 ERA in 57.1 innings. She has thrown a team-high three shutouts while holding opposing hitters to a .239 average. Sammy Albanese (0-0, 9.69 ERA in 8.2 IP) and Kristen Wood (0-1, 12.35 ERA in 5.2 IP) round out the Northwestern staff.
Husker History vs. Northwestern
The all-time series between Nebraska and Northwestern is tied 7-7 after the Huskers swept a three-game series at Bowlin Stadium in their first-ever Big Ten series last season. Nebraska’s season sweep last year snapped a six-game losing streak to the Wildcats. The sweep also marked Head Coach Rhonda Revelle’s first career victories against Northwestern, as she had been 0-6 vs. the Wildcats. Nebraska leads the all-time series 3-0 in Lincoln and Coach Revelle is 3-2 against Northwestern Head Coach Kate Drohan.
Last year’s first meeting was a memorable one. Not only was it Nebraska’s first Big Ten Conference game, it also ended in dramatic fashion. Northwestern led by as many as four runs early, and the Wildcats led 6-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Brooke Thomason pulled Nebraska within two with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. Thomason then stepped to the plate again with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and the Huskers trailing 6-5. She came through again, blasting a 1-1 pitch to center field for a walk-off grand slam, the first by a Husker in 10 seasons.
Game two was nearly as dramatic. Both teams put up three runs in the first inning before the Huskers added two runs in both the second and third innings to take a 7-3 lead. Northwestern, which loaded the bases in each of the first four innings but only scored in the first, loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh, trailing by four. The Wildcats trimmed the lead to 7-6 before Ashley Hagemann struck out All-American Marisa Bast with the tying run on base to preserve the victory.
Tatum Edwards made her only appearance of the series in game three and stymied Northwestern’s offense in an 8-1 victory. Edwards allowed only five hits and did not surrender an earned run. Offensively, Nebraska used a six-run fourth inning to break open a one-run game.
Gabby Banda hit .545 (6-for-11) against Northwestern last season, while Brooke Thomason was 4-for-10 with a double, two homers and seven RBIs. Tatum and Taylor Edwards added three RBIs each against the Wildcats.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes as the 20th-ranked Huskers open Big Ten Conference play by hosting Northwestern for a three-game series this weekend:
- Nebraska owns an all-time record of 440-251 (.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 9-2 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 11 games with five freshmen.
- Nebraska has allowed one run or less in 16 of its 26 games this season, including 10 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 26 games this season.
- Five Huskers have started all 26 games at the same position this spring (Taylor Edwards - C, Hailey Decker - 2B, Gabby Banda, - 3B, Kiki Stokes - CF, Brooke Thomason - RF).
- Husker pitching has not allowed an extra-base hit in 12 of its 26 games this season.
- In the circle, 24 of the 61 hits Tatum Edwards has allowed this season have been infield singles (39 percent).
- Eleven of Tatum Edwards’ 13 hits this season have gone for extra bases, including four doubles and seven 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 eight 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 two doubles shy of cracking Nebraska’s all-time top 10.
- Banda is three walks from moving into Nebraska’s all-time top 10.
- Banda has started 161 consecutive games for the Huskers.
- Brooke Thomason is one extra-base hit shy of moving into Nebraska’s all-time top five.
- Taylor Edwards is one home run shy of hitting her 30th career home run, while Tatum Edwards is two home runs shy of 30. Brooke Thomason already owns 30 home runs, and a Husker lineup has never featured three players with 30 career home runs.
- 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.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game nine times in their careers, including twice in 2013 and a pair of games where Tatum homered twice and Taylor homered once.
- Dawna Tyson is batting .615 (8-for-13) with two outs this season.
Tatum Edwards Excelling Over The Last 10 Games
A two-time all-conference performer, junior Tatum Edwards is used to excelling on the softball diamond. She has again been one of Nebraska’s top players this season, but she has been on fire over the Huskers’ last 10 games. Edwards has helped the Huskers to a 9-1 record during that stretch, including a 1-0 upset at No. 1 Oklahoma, when Nebraska handed the Sooners their only loss of the year.In the circle, Edwards is 6-0 over the last 10 games with a 0.00 ERA in 32.0 innings. She has not allowed an earned run in her last 32.0 innings, with the only blemish on her stat line are a pair of unearned runs in the sixth inning against UNO on March 19. Opponents are hitting only .132 against her over the last 10 games, and she has struck out 33 and allowed only two extra-base hits, both doubles. Edwards has made five starts over the last 10 games, tossing four shutouts, including a one-hitter, a two-hitter, a three-hitter and two four-hitters.
Edwards has also been impressive at the plate over the past 10 games, although she has only been in the batting order for six of those games. Edwards has hit four homers and driven in seven runs, while batting .313 and slugging 1.063 over Nebraska’s last 10 games. Her solo home run gave Nebraska its only run in the Huskers’ upset of No. 1 Oklahoma. She then hit a walk-off, three-run homer that wrapped up Nebraska’s run-rule victory over New Mexico State on March 15, before producing her fifth career multi-homer game and second of the season against North Dakota State on March 20.
Tatum Edwards In Control in the Circle
Tatum Edwards has been one of the Big Ten’s best pitchers this season, posting a 13-4 record with a 1.66 ERA. She ranks third in the league in wins, fifth in opponent batting average and sixth in ERA while making starts against No. 1 Oklahoma (twice), No. 9 Oregon, No. 16 Arizona and No. 23 Florida State. Outside of two poor starts against the top-ranked Sooners and ninth-ranked Ducks, Edwards has been dominant this season.
In 12 appearances against non-ranked teams, Edwards is 12-0 with a 0.58 ERA in 60.0 innings. She has thrown a shutout in five of her nine starts against unranked opponents, limiting opposing hitters to a .180 batting average while striking out 53 and walking 24.
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 13-2 with a 0.61 ERA. Taking out her two worst appearances of the year, Edwards has held opposing hitters to a .175 batting average, while allowing only 48 hits in 80.0 innings. She has surrendered only six extra-base hits in those 15 appearances, while posting six shutouts and 68 strikeouts.
Fowler Continues Clutch Hitting
Mattie Fowler proved to be one of Nebraska’s top clutch hitters as a freshman in 2012, when she drove in the game-winning run in five of the Huskers’ 14 Big Ten Conference victories. She was especially clutch in Nebraska’s three extra-inning games last spring, producing the game-winning hit in two of the three victories and scoring the game-winning run in the third.
Despite battling back from ACL surgery, Fowler has been clutch again for Nebraska this season. She is batting a team-best .474 (9-for-19) with runners in scoring position, her .333 average with two outs ranks second on the team and her four two-out RBIs rank third. Fowler’s late-inning dramatics were on display again on March 19, when she delivered a clutch two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Huskers to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over UNO. She owns two game-winning RBIs this season.
Nebraska has won four games in its final at bat this season, including three times this month. Nebraska trailed Illinois-Chicago 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning in the fourth game of the season, before scoring twice in its final at bat, highlighted by Jordan Bettiol’s walk-off, RBI double. At Wichita State on March 9, the game was tied 1-1 with two outs in the top of the seventh inning before the Huskers scored twice, highlighted by Kiki Stokes’ go-ahead, inside-the-park home run. Six days later in the home opener against New Mexico State, Stokes delivered again, belting a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning that gave Nebraska a 4-1 win. Then on March 19 against UNO, Mattie Fowler delivered a walk-off, two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Nebraska to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
Nebraska leads the Big Ten Conference with 31 home runs this season, seven more than Minnesota. The Huskers have increased their home run lead thanks to a recent power surge. Nebraska has homered in nine of its last 10 games, slugging 17 home runs during that stretch, including five games with at least two home runs.
Leading the way the past 10 games is junior Tatum Edwards, who has homered four times despite being in the batting order in only six games. Her twin sister Taylor and freshman Dawna Tyson have each homered three times in the last 10 games, while freshmen Alicia Armstrong and Kiki Stokes have each homered twice. Freshman Hailey Decker, sophomore Mattie Fowler and senior Brooke Thomason have each homered once over the last 10 games.
Led by the recent power surge, Taylor Edwards has already hit more home runs this season (6) than she did last year (5), while Tatum Edwards has matched last year’s production with seven home runs.
Led by its recent power surge, Nebraska has reached both the 25- and 30-home run plateaus faster than any other team in school history. This year’s group hit 25 home runs in 21 games, eclipsing the previous mark set by the 1998 team, who hit its 25th home run in its 26th game. NU produced its 30th homer in its 26th game this year, better the previous mark of 29 games set in 2002 and 2011. 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.
Ten Huskers have homered already this season - tying the school record - with junior Tatum Edwards homering a team-high seven times and her twin sister Taylor adding six home runs. The duo has combined for 13 home runs this year, after totaling 12 combined homers in 2012. Senior Brooke Thomason has homered five times, while freshmen Hailey Decker and Dawna Tyson have each homered three times, freshmen Alicia Armstrong and Kiki Stokes have hit two home runs each and senior Courtney Breault, junior Kylee Muir and sophomore Mattie Fowler have each homered once.
Nebraska is currently on pace to hit 64 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 North Dakota State featured eight players who had homered this season. The only player without a home run in that lineup was senior Gabby Banda, who homered four times in 2012.
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 28 home runs. Thomason leads the way with 30 career home runs - fourth in school history - while Taylor ranks sixth with 29 homers and Tatum sits in a tie for seventh place with 28 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 Pushing for Starting Designated Player Role
Freshman Dawna Tyson has made a strong push to become Nebraska’s permanent starting designated player over the past three weeks. 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.
In her nine starts as the designated player this season, Tyson is 13-for-27 (.481) with three home runs, five runs scored, nine RBIs, a .517 on-base percentage and an .814 slugging percentage. Nebraska’s other designated player candidates have combined to go 11-for-48 (.229) this season with three doubles, three homers and seven RBIs. Tyson has six multi-hit games in her last seven starts.