Huskers Begin Busy Week With Minnesota on Tuesday
The 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team begins a busy week on Tuesday, with a rescheduled doubleheader against the Minnesota Golden Gophers beginning at 4 p.m. at Bowlin Stadium. The Huskers then host Kansas on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to close a six-game homestand.
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 online through a free radio broadcast on Huskers.com. Nate Rohr will call all of the action for Huskers.com, with Ben McLaughlin adding color commentary.
Tuesday’s doubleheader with Minnesota begins a stretch that will see the Huskers play six games in six days. Following the three mid-week games, Nebraska travels to Purdue this weekend for a three-game Big Ten series against the Boilermakers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in West Lafayette, Ind.
Nebraska brings a 30-9 overall record into the upcoming busy stretch, notching 30 wins for the fifth straight season, the 15th time in the past 16 seasons and the 17th time in Head Coach Rhonda Revelle’s 21 seasons. The Huskers and Golden Gophers are two of the Big Ten’s top teams. Minnesota is second in the conference standings with a 9-3 record, while Nebraska is one-half game behind the Golden Gophers with an 8-3 league record.
The teams have played virtually the same Big Ten schedule through the first four weeks of conference play. Nebraska has posted 2-1 series victories over Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, while sweeping a weather-shortened two-game series from Northwestern. Minnesota swept both Iowa and Illinois, won two of its three games against Wisconsin and lost two of three games at Northwestern.
The doubleheader with Minnesota marks Nebraska’s third straight conference series against one of the league’s top teams. The stretch began the first weekend of April, when the Huskers went 2-1 at Iowa, the Big Ten’s third-highest ranked team in the NCAA RPI last week, coming in at No. 24 behind Michigan (No. 15) and Nebraska (No. 16). NU then beat Wisconsin twice last weekend, and the Badgers are the fourth-highest ranked RPI team at No. 27. Minnesota is 31st in the RPI. The only other Big Ten team in the top 50 is Northwestern (No. 46), Nebraska’s conference-opening opponent.
Kansas is also a strong RPI opponent, as the Jayhawks are No. 54 in the NCAA’s ranking.
Scouting the Minnesota Golden Gophers (26-13 Overall, 9-3 Big Ten)
Minnesota is 26-13 and the Golden Gophers are just ahead of Nebraska in second place in the Big Ten standings with a 9-3 conference record. Minnesota has won four straight conference games and is looking for its third sweep of a Big Ten series.
Offensively, Minnesota features one of the league’s youngest offenses, as eight of the 11 Gophers with at least 40 at bats this season are either freshmen or sophomores. UM is batting .256 as a team while averaging 4.4 runs per game and ranking second in the Big Ten in stolen bases (78) and walks (160) and fourth in home runs (36). The Gophers are led by two of the league’s top hitters in the sophomore tandem of Kaitlyn Richardson and Tyler Walker. Richardson leads the Big Ten with a .476 batting average and also ranks among the league leaders with a .591 on-base percentage (second) and a .796 slugging percentage (third). She has also added nine doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs. Walker is batting .413 with nine doubles and eight homers of her own. Walker ranks second in the Big Ten with 18 stolen bases. No other Gopher is hitting better than .245.
Minnesota is more experienced in the circle, relying on junior ace Sara Moulton. Moulton has compiled a 22-8 record this spring in 33 total appearances, 31 starts and 186.2 innings, more than 70 percent of the team’s total. Opponents are hitting just .189 against Moulton and have struck out 210 times. Moulton, who has thrown a Big Ten-best eight shutouts this season, owns a strikeout-to-walk ratio of more than 4-to-1. Freshman Nikki Anderson and sophomore Kelsey Kimminau have split the innings behind Moulton. Anderson, a lefty, is 4-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 43.0 innings this spring, while Kimminau is 0-3 with a 5.08 ERA in 30.1 innings.
NU leads the all-time series with Minnesota, 14-7. The Gophers won last year’s series, 2-1, snapping NU’s eight-game win streak in the series. The teams split a pair of games in 1981 in the only two meetings in Lincoln.
Scouting the Kansas Jayhawks (26-11)
Kansas is 26-11 after winning a three-game series at Furman last weekend. The Jayhawks have won five of their last six games. Nebraska and Kansas share just one common opponent this season in New Mexico. The Huskers defeated the Lobos 11-0 in five innings, while the Jayhawks fell to New Mexico, 2-1.
KU is led by an offense that ranked second nationally last week in batting average and 18th in runs per game. The Jayhawks are hitting .349 while averaging 6.3 runs per game. Maggie Hull and Alex Hugo are both hitting above .400. Hull leads KU with a .472 average, 13 doubles, 17 walks and 38 RBIs. She has also added five homers. Hugo is hitting .429 and leads Kansas with nine home runs, while adding 34 RBIs. Six other starters are hitting above .300, with Maddie Stein adding 36 RBIs to complement a .331 average. Alex Jones is hitting .328 and leads KU with 11 stolen bases, while Mariah Montgomery is hitting .322 with nine doubles, three homers and 26 RBIs.
In the circle, Kansas boasts a 2.50 ERA while allowing 2.4 runs per game. Alicia Pile has thrown nearly half of KU’s total innings, compiling a 10-6 record with a 2.51 ERA in 108.2 innings. Kelsey Kessler is 7-3 with a 1.98 ERA in 74.1 innings, while Jones is 7-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 43.1 innings. Morgan Druhan (2-0, 12.16 ERA in 6.1 IP) rounds out the staff. KU also plays outstanding defense, ranking seventh nationally in fielding percentage.
Kansas leads the all-time series, 55-54. NU has won four straight in the series, but is just 5-5 against KU at Bowlin Stadium. The Huskers and Jayhawks have played 109 games against each other, as Nebraska has played more games against Kansas than any other team in program history except for Creighton.
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 483-235 (.673) in the month of April.
- NU was ranked 16th in the third NCAA RPI ranking released last Monday. The Huskers were the second-highest ranked Big Ten team behind No. 15 Michigan, while overall the conference had five teams ranked in the top 31.
- 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 25 extra-base hits, the ninth-highest total by a freshman class in school history.
- Nebraska has allowed one run or less in 21 of its 39 games this season, including 12 shutouts. In 55 games last season, NU allowed one run or less just 16 times, posting 13 shutouts.
- Five Huskers have started all 39 games at the same position this spring (Taylor Edwards - C, Hailey Decker - 2B, Gabby Banda - 3B, Kiki Stokes - CF, Brooke Thomason - RF).
- Nebraska is 25-1 when out-hitting its opponent this season.
- The Huskers are 27-3 when recording at least five hits.
- NU is 22-0 when it scores first and 14-0 when it scores in the first inning.
- Nebraska is 17-0 when it scores five-or-more runs.
- NU is 22-0 when leading after four innings.
- The Huskers are 3-0 in extra-innings this season and have won six straight extra-inning games.
- In the circle, 39 of the 99 hits Tatum Edwards has allowed this season have been infield singles (39 percent).
- Offensively, 14 of Tatum Edwards’ 19 hits have gone for extra bases, including seven doubles and seven homers.
- Tatum Edwards enters this week with 95 career RBIs, five shy of 100.
- Gabby Banda is one double shy of cracking Nebraska’s all-time top 10.
- Banda has started 174 consecutive games for the Huskers.
- Taylor Edwards has hit 32 career home runs and Brooke Thomason 31 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.
Thomason & Taylor Edwards Rank Among Nation’s Active Career Leaders
Senior Brooke Thomason and junior Taylor Edwards have put up outstanding offensive statistics in their careers, helping Thomason rank in the top 10 in school history in seven offensive categories and Edwards rank in the top 10 in Husker history in four offensive categories. The duo have not only posted totals among the best in Nebraska history, but they have also produced statistics that rank highly among all active Division I softball players.
Of the approximately 5,000 current Division I softball players, Thomason has produced statistics that rank among the top one percent (50 players) of all players in four categories. Entering last week, she ranked 20th among all active players with 153 career RBIs, 31st with 38 doubles, 43rd with 85 walks and 49th with 192 hits. Thomason also ranked 53rd with 31 homers.
Edwards has also produced numbers that rank among the top one percent of all current college softball players in two different categories, an impressive feat considering her junior status. Edwards ranks 24th among all active players with 99 career walks and 25th with 142 RBIs, while also ranking 53rd with 31 home runs. Edwards ranks second among all current players not in their senior season in walks, and she is fourth in RBIs and ninth in home runs.
Taylor Edwards Joins 100-100-100 Club
Junior Taylor Edwards went 4-for-8 with a double, a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored against Wisconsin last weekend. Her two runs scored in Sunday’s 11-2 win gave her 101 career runs scored, making her the 10th Husker to produce 100 career hits, runs scored and RBIs. Edwards joined three-time All-American Ali Viola and Crystal Carwile as the only players in school history to reach each milestone prior to their senior season.
There Is No Place Like Home
Nebraska is 2-1 on its current six-game homestand that wraps up this week. The Huskers have been tough to beat at Bowlin Stadium in recent years, winning 30 of their last 34 home games dating back to 2011. After winning the final three home games of the 2011 season, Nebraska posted a 15-1 home record in 2012. The Huskers are 9-2 at home this season.
The Huskers have been especially tough at home against Big Ten Conference opponents. Nebraska is 14-2 all-time in Big Ten Conference games at Bowlin Stadium. NU has outscored its opponents 99-38 in its first 16 Big Ten home games, winning by an average of nearly four runs per game.
The Huskers are 4-1 in conference action at Bowlin Stadium this spring, sweeping a weather-shortened two-game series from Northwestern and winning 2-of-3 games from Wisconsin. Nebraska posted a 10-1 Big Ten home record last season, losing only to Wisconsin.