The 19th-ranked Nebraska softball team wraps up a seven-game road trip with a three-game Big Ten Conference series with the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City, Iowa, this weekend. First pitch on Friday is set for 6:30 p.m., with Saturday’s game beginning at 5 p.m. and Sunday’s finale starting at 1 p.m.
Fans can follow this weekend’s series by listening to Nate Rohr call all of the action for a free, live radio broadcast of all three games on Huskers.com. The Huskers are 3-1 thus far on their road trip, winning two-of-three games at Illinois last weekend and defeating Creighton in Omaha on Wednesday.
Overall, the Huskers are 9-3 on the road this season, including 2-1 in Big Ten play. Nebraska has won eight of its last nine road games, one year after finishing 7-12 on the road in 2012, including 4-8 in conference road games. Nebraska is on the verge of winning 10 road games in a season for the first time since 2011 and for just the second time in the last nine years. Only three teams in school history have won more than 10 road games in a season, the 1984 Huskers (14), the 2001 squad (12) and the 2011 Huskers (11). This year’s group has nine road games remaining on its schedule, including this weekend.
While winning eight of their last nine road games, the Huskers have been able to pull out some close, late-inning victories despite the opponent having the final at bat. The streak of eight road wins in nine tries began with an upset of top-ranked Oklahoma, 1-0, on March 2, when the Huskers snapped the 30-2 Sooners’ season-opening 17-game win streak. One week later, Nebraska scored twice in its final at bat in the top of the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie and win at Wichita State, 3-1. Last week at Illinois, the Huskers scored five times in their final at bat in the top of the seventh inning to erase a one-run deficit and defeat the Fighting Illini, 6-2. Then on Wednesday at Creighton, Nebraska quickly fell into a 2-0 hole before scoring four straight runs. The Huskers then held onto the win when junior right-hander Tatum Edwards struck out back-to-back hitters with the bases loaded and Nebraska clinging to a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Edwards’ clutch performance helped her win her ninth straight start. A native of Murrieta, Calif., Edwards will put that streak on the line this weekend against an Iowa squad that won two of last year’s three games in Iowa City. Edwards, who ranks third in the Big Ten with a career-high 17 victories this spring, will try to help Nebraska’s pitching staff limit a Hawkeye offense that is coming off an 18-run performance on Wednesday against Drake. Iowa and Nebraska are two of the highest-ranked Big Ten teams, as the Huskers are No. 18 in the NCAA RPI rankings, while Iowa is No. 24.
Scouting the Iowa Hawkeyes (21-13 Overall, 1-5 Big Ten)
Iowa is hosting its third straight home Big Ten Conference series. The Hawkeyes, who are 21-13 overall, are off to a disappointing start in conference play at just 1-5. Iowa was swept by Minnesota at home two weeks ago, before losing two of three to Wisconsin last weekend. Iowa is the fourth-highest Big Ten team in the NCAA RPI rankings, coming in at No. 24. The Huskers and Hawkeyes share four common opponents in Drake, Maryland, Oklahoma State and UNO. Nebraska posted a 6-0 record against that group, while Iowa went 4-1. The Hawkeyes are 5-6 against ranked teams this spring.
Offensively, Iowa is batting .271 as a team while averaging 4.6 runs per game. The Hawkeyes are led by one of the Big Ten’s best hitters, sophomore Megan Blank. One of three Iowa starters hitting above .330, Blank leads the Big Ten with 40 RBIs, ranks third with 10 doubles and eighth with a .413 average. Johnnie Dowling ranks second on the team with a .362 average, and she leads the Hawkeyes with 29 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. Kayla Massey is batting .337 and has hit six of Iowa’s 17 home runs, while adding 24 RBIs.
In the circle, Iowa owns a 2.61 staff ERA while allowing 3.5 runs per game. Massey leads the way with an 11-7 record and a 1.99 ERA in 123.1 innings. Massey has thrown more than half of Iowa’s total innings, while tossing three shutouts and adding one save. Opponents are hitting just .231 against her, while she has struck out 67 and walked 54. Chelsea Lyon has also seen extensive action, compiling an 8-6 record with a 3.60 ERA in 85.2 innings. She owns as many walks as strikeouts (50) and opponents are hitting .251 against her. Micaela Whitney (2-0, 2.62 ERA in 16.0 IP) rounds out a Hawkeye staff that has allowed only seven home runs and just 39 extra-base hits in 34 games this season.
Husker History vs. Iowa
Iowa leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 10-9, after winning two of the three meetings in Iowa City last season. The Huskers are playing at Iowa for the second straight season, and they own a 4-4 all-time record in Iowa City, including a 2-4 mark in regular-season games and a 1-2 record in Big Ten Conference games. The three-game series last season marked the first time NU and Iowa had met since the 2006 NCAA Tournament in Iowa City, while each of the previous five meetings had come in NCAA Regional play. Last year’s series was the first time the programs had met in the regular season since 1999. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 6-7 in her career against Iowa, including a 1-2 mark against third-year Hawkeye Head Coach Marla Looper.
Nebraska had a chance to clinch the series on day one last year, nearly sweeping a doubleheader. The Huskers rallied from a one-run deficit by scoring six times in the fourth and fifth innings in game one, defeating the Hawkeyes, 7-4. Tatum Edwards started in the circle and allowed one run on two hits in 3.0 innings, but she did not factor into the decision. Edwards was 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI, as Nebraska got production throughout its lineup with six different players driving in a run. In game two, the Huskers again came from behind to take a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, only to see Iowa score twice and rally for the win. Brooke Thomason produced three RBIs in the loss, while Courtney Breault homered. In game three, two Husker errors led to five unearned runs as Iowa captured the series with a 6-4 win. Tatum Edwards allowed only one earned run in 4.0 innings, while Taylor Edwards drove in two runs and walked twice.
Gabby Banda led Nebraska with a .400 average (4-for-10) against Iowa last year. Breault batted .375 (3-for-8) with a home run and two RBIs, while Taylor Edwards was 2-for-7, but doubled, walked five times and produced three RBIs. Thomason had only two hits in the series, but produced a team-high four RBIs. Tatum Edwards allowed five runs (two earned) in 7.0 innings, allowing only five hits, while walking eight.
For Iowa, Megan Blank was 5-for-11 (.455) in the series with two doubles and three RBIs, while Johnnie Dowling was 4-for-9 (.444). In the circle, Kayla Massey was 1-0 with a 3.62 ERA in 9.2 innings against NU, while Chelsea Lyon was 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA in 11.1 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 479-233 (.673) in the month of April.
- NU was ranked 18th in the second NCAA RPI ranking released on Monday. The Huskers remained the highest ranked Big Ten team, while overall the conference had four teams ranked in the top 25 and six teams in the top 50.
- 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 14 games with five freshmen.
- The freshmen have combined for 23 extra-base hits, the 10th-highest total by a freshman class in school history.
- Nebraska has allowed one run or less in 19 of its 33 games this season, including 11 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 33 games this season.
- Five Huskers have started all 33 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 14 of its 33 games this season.
- Nebraska is 22-1 when out-hitting its opponent this season.
- The Huskers are 24-1 when recording at least five hits.
- NU is 19-0 when it scores first and 12-0 when it scores in the first inning.
- Nebraska is 15-0 when it scores five-or-more runs.
- NU is 20-0 when leading after four innings.
- NU is 9-3 in true road games this season, after posting a 7-12 road record in 2012.
- The Huskers are 3-0 in extra-innings this season and have won six straight extra-inning games.
- Only four Big Ten pitchers have shut out a ranked team this season, Nebraska’s Tatum Edwards and Emily Lockman, along with Wisconsin’s Cassandra Darrah and Ohio State’s Alex DiDomenico.
- In the circle, 30 of the 80 hits Tatum Edwards has allowed this season have been infield singles (38 percent).
- Offensively, 14 of Tatum Edwards’ 19 hits have gone for extra bases, including seven doubles and seven homers.
- Tatum Edwards enters this weekend with 95 career RBIs, five shy of 100.
- Taylor Edwards enters this weekend with 96 career runs scored. She needs four runs scored to become only the third player in school history to produce 100 career hits, runs and RBIs prior to her senior season.
- Gabby Banda is one double shy of cracking Nebraska’s all-time top 10.
- Banda has started 168 consecutive games for the Huskers.
- Brooke Thomason and Taylor Edwards have each hit 31 career home runs, giving Nebraska a lineup that features two players with 30 career home runs for only the second time in school history (also 1998). NU has never had a lineup with three players with 30 career homers and Tatum Edwards owns 28 career home runs.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game nine times in their careers, including twice in 2013.
Tatum Edwards Has Won Last Nine Starts
Junior right-hander Tatum Edwards has been excellent in a starting role since allowing a career-high nine earned runs in a loss at No. 1 Oklahoma on March 2. Edwards has made nine starts since the Oklahoma game, posting a 9-0 record with a 0.97 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 58.0 innings. Opponents are hitting just .146 against her, and Edwards has thrown four shutouts and has not allowed an earned run in six of her nine starts, including a streak of 33.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. In her last nine starts, Edwards has tossed a one-hitter, a pair of two-hitters, a three-hitter, four four-hitters and a five-hitter.
Edwards has also helped herself offensively during the win streak. She has been in the starting batting order in each of her last nine starts in the circle, producing eight runs, three doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in only 26 at bats. During that same stretch, Edwards has held all opposing hitters to just 12 runs, three doubles, one home runsand 12 RBIs in 199 combined at bats.