After having its scheduled game at Creighton washed out on Wednesday, the 19th-ranked Nebraska softball team begins a five-game road trip this weekend with a trip to East Lansing, Mich., to face the Michigan State Spartans.
Following the three-game series with the Spartans, Nebraska will travel to Wisconsin for a Wednesday doubleheader that wraps up a stretch of five road games in two cities over a six-day span for the Huskers. Nebraska will be aiming to lock up a bye at the Big Ten Tournament with a strong road trip. The Huskers enter play this weekend in second place in the Big Ten standings with an 11-4 league record.
Nebraska also hopes to continue its success on the road, as the Huskers are 12-3 in away games this season. The 12 road wins ranked seventh nationally entering play this week and rank as the third-most road victories in school history. NU set a school record with 17 road wins in 2013.
The Huskers have also excelled at home, completing a 7-1 homestand with a three-game sweep of Ohio State last weekend. Nebraska finished the homestand with seven consecutive wins, as the Huskers take a season-best seven-game win streak into this weekend’s series. NU has outscored its opponents 66-4 during the win streak. Over the last five games - all conference games - the Huskers have outscored their opponents 57-2, posting a school-record five straight run-rule victories.
Nebraska is batting .393 as a team during the seven-game win streak, while averaging 9.4 runs per game. The Huskers have slugged 12 doubles and 13 home runs in the winning streak to post a .669 slugging percentage. Seven Huskers are hitting .400 or higher during the win streak, while junior Kylee Muir (.526) and freshman Kat Woolman (.500) are each batting .500. Senior Tatum Edwards owns five homers and 18 RBIs in the seven-game win streak, while her twin Taylor has homered four times. In the eight-game conference win streak, the Huskers boast a .407 average while totaling 83 runs.
The offense has grabbed the headlines during the win streak but the efforts of the Husker defense are not to be overlooked. In the circle, Nebraska has posted five shutouts in the last seven games, en route to posting a 0.51 ERA. While the Huskers have produced 70 hits and batted .393 during the win streak, opponents are hitting just .161 with only 23 hits in the seven games, including just four extra-base hits. Defensively, NU has committed only four errors during the win streak, fielding at a .979 clip.
Sophomore Emily Lockman is 4-0 with two shutouts and a 0.33 ERA during the win streak, while Tatum Edwards is 3-0 with one shutout, a 0.70 ERA and one save.
Scouting the Michigan State Spartans (12-30 Overall, 4-13 Big Ten)
Michigan State brings a 12-30 record into play this weekend after losing at home Wednesday to Central Michigan. The Spartans sit in a tie for 10th place in the Big Ten Conference standings with a 4-13 record in league play. MSU is coming off a series victory at Iowa last weekend, and the Spartans are 3-5 over their last eight Big Ten games, after opening the conference slate 1-8.
Offensively, Michigan State is batting .226 as a team and averaging 3.0 runs per game. In Big Ten action, MSU is hitting .237 but is averaging just 2.6 runs per game. Eight of Michigan State’s 18 home runs have come in conference play. The Spartans own the lowest batting average and slugging percentage among all Big Ten teams and have scored the second-fewest run. MSU has been hit by a league-leading 48 pitches this spring.
Sarah Gutknecht is the Spartans’ leading hitter, as she boasts a .279 average. Gutknecht also leads Michigan State with 34 hits, nine doubles, six homers and 24 RBIs. Lindsey Besson is batting .278 this spring with one triple and nine RBIs, and she leads the Spartans with a .324 average in conference play. Stephanie Sanders is hitting .261 with 17 RBIs, while Kassidy Kujawa owns a .272 average with six doubles, three homers and 16 walks. Alyssa McBride has drawn a team-high 17 walks this season, including 10 free passes in Big Ten play.
In the circle, Michigan State boasts a 4.61 ERA and is allowing an average of 5.8 runs per game. In conference play, the Spartans own a 5.75 ERA and have allowed an average of 7.0 runs per game. Opponents are hitting .314 against MSU pitching this season, while Big Ten teams are batting .350 against the Spartans. Defensively, Michigan State ranks seventh in the Big Ten with a .958 fielding percentage, but the Spartans have allowed 66 unearned runs this season, an average of 1.5 unearned runs per game.
Kelly Smith and Valerie Kaff have split the majority of the innings for Michigan State this spring. Smith has compiled a 5-13 record with a 4.67 ERA, including a 2-7 mark with a 5.81 ERA in conference play, when she has given up 11 home runs in 11 appearances. The senior right-hander is one of the Big Ten’s hottest pitchers however, as she is the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. Smith went 3-0 last week with three- and five-hit shutouts of Iowa and a no-hitter against Eastern Michigan. In addition to her three shutouts last week, Smith struck out 23 batters in 21.0 innings. Kaff is 5-14 on the season with a 4.79 ERA in 117.0 innings. She has posted a 2-5 record with a 5.66 ERA in conference play, although conference opponents are hitting .382 against her. Kristina Zalewski (2-3, 3.78 ERA in 33.1 IP) rounds out the Spartan staff.
Michigan State is led by Jacquie Joseph, who owns a 588-573-1 record in 21 seasons in charge of the Spartan program. Overall, Joseph owns a 713-674-1 record in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Husker History vs. Michigan State
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 4-0. The teams did not face each other last season and in the only meeting as conference foes, the Huskers swept a weather-shortened two-game series from the Spartans at Bowlin Stadium in 2012. Nebraska is making its first trip to Michigan State this spring, and the Huskers will be playing their first games ever in the state of Michigan this weekend. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 4-0 in her career against Michigan State, including a 4-0 record against Spartan Head Coach Jacquie Joseph.
In the most recent meetings in 2012, Nebraska rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a 5-3 victory to take game one of the series. The Huskers then completed a doubleheader sweep with a 3-0 victory in game two. Tatum Edwards fired a five-hit shutout with six strikeouts and only one walk in the nightcap, before game three was rained out. Tatum and Taylor Edwards and junior Mattie Fowler, who is out for the 2014 season with an injury, are the only players on Nebraska’s roster who saw action against Michigan State in 2012. The Edwards twins combined to go 1-for-7 at the plate with one walk and two runs scored, while Fowler was 3-for-7 with a homer and four RBIs.
Below is a look at brief team notes and statistics of interest heading into this weekend's series.
- Nebraska has won a season-best seven straight games, its longest winning streak since March of 2013 (8 games).
- NU has outscored its opponents 66-4 during the win streak, winning by an average of nearly nine runs per game.
- The Huskers have won eight consecutive conference games, their longest such streak since 2004 (12 games).
- NU has outscored its opponents 83-11 during the Big Ten win streak, winning by an average of nine runs per game.
- Nebraska is 10-2 this month, and the Huskers have outscored their opponents 98-27 (average score of 8-2).
- Nebraska has scored 133 runs since changing its lineup 16 games ago (averaging 8.3 runs per game).
- The Huskers have scored 57 runs in their last five games and 89 runs in their last 10 games.
- NU pitching owns a 15-inning scoreless streak and during that time, no opposing runner has reached third base.
- The Husker defense has not committed an error in seven of its last nine games, including three straight.
- Nebraska leads the Big Ten with 159 walks this season and is tied for the league lead with 49 home runs.
- NU leads the league in home runs (24) and doubles (32) in conference-only games.
- 62 of the 119 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored with two outs (52 percent).
- The Huskers are 27-1 this season when scoring first.
- Nebraska is 17-1 when recording 10 hits this season.
- The Huskers are 22-0 when scoring at least five runs this year, but are 0-9 when allowing five or more runs.
- Nebraska dropped one spot to No. 14 in this week’s NCAA RPI.
- NU boasts the nation’s 11th-toughest schedule overall and the No. 3 most difficult non-conference schedule.
Below is a look at brief individual notes and statistics of interest heading into this weekend's series.
- Alicia Armstrong recorded her 100th career hit last Friday against Ohio State.
- Armstrong is now 103-for-307 in her career, as her .336 career average ranks eighth in school history.
- Armstrong is hitting .444 (20-for-45) in Big Ten play with eight doubles and 14 RBIs.
- Hailey Decker leads the Big Ten with 16 doubles this season.
- Decker is tied for ninth nationally with 16 doubles entering play this week.
- Decker is batting .451 (23-for-51) with seven doubles, four homers and 17 RBIs in Big Ten play.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game 12 times in their careers, including three times this season.
- The Edwards twins have combined for more home runs in league play (13) than eight of the other 11 Big Ten teams.
- Tatum Edwards is tied for the Big Ten lead with three saves this season.
- Tatum owns 63 career wins and 42 career home runs, as she is the nation’s only player with 60 wins and 40 homers.
- Tatum also leads the league in home runs (7), RBIs (24) and total bases (43) in conference-only games.
- Tatum is hitting .380 (19-for-50) in Big Ten play.
- Taylor Edwards leads the Big Ten with 15 home runs, 102 total bases and 13 hit-by-pitches this season.
- Taylor ranks 10th nationally in home runs, 16th in on-base percentage and 18th in home runs per game.
- Taylor has walked 33 times this season, becoming the first Husker to post four 30-walk seasons.
- Taylor has driven in 32 this season, becoming only the second Husker to post four 30-RBI seasons.
- Kylee Muir is batting .375 (15-for-40) with five doubles, one homer and 13 RBIs in Big Ten play.
- Austen Urness is 2-for-5 with one double and four RBIs following a 16-game absence due to a concussion.
Below are highlights of select Huskers who are enjoying a recent stretch of strong play.
- Alicia Armstrong is 20-for-43 (.465) over her last 13 games in the batting order with eight doubles and 15 RBIs.
- Hailey Decker is 26-for-62 (.419) over her last 18 games with five homers, seven doubles, 21 runs and 22 RBIs.
- Decker has hit safely in six straight games, producing a .500 average (10-for-20) with seven RBIs in that span.
- Decker has recorded nine multi-hit efforts and seven multi-RBI performances over her last 18 games.
- Tatum Edwards has homered in four of her last six games and has nine homers in her last 20 games.
- Tatum has produced 23 hits in her last 20 games after totaling 15 hits in her first 24 games.
- Tatum owns 30 RBIs in her last 20 games after producing just nine RBIs through her first 24 games.
- Tatum is 8-for-21 (.381) during her six-game hit streak with five homers and 18 RBIs.
- Tatum has produced an RBI in six consecutive games, totaling 18 RBIs in that stretch.
- Tatum is 3-0 with one save and a 0.70 ERA over her last four appearances.
- Taylor Edwards has homered in two straight games and four of her last five games.
- Taylor has produced at least one hit, one run, one RBI and one walk or hit-by-pitch in five straight games
- MJ Knighten has produced five multi-hit efforts in her last 10 games.
- Knighten owns 14 RBIs over her last 14 games, after totaling 14 RBIs in her first 32 games.
- Knighten has produced six multi-RBI efforts in the last 14 games, after totaling four in her first 32 games.
- Emily Lockman has thrown 13.1 consecutive scoreless innings.
- Lockman is 6-0 with one save and a 0.96 ERA over her last six appearances dating back to March 30.
- Lockman is 5-0 with one save and a 0.85 ERA this month.
- Kylee Muir has produced four multi-hit efforts in her last seven games, after totaling one in her first 31 games.
- Muir is 14-for-32 (.438) this month with five doubles, one homer and 13 RBIs in 12 games.
- Kat Woolman is 13-for-29 (.448) in 12 games this month with one homer and five RBIs.
- Woolman has scored eight runs in her past five games.
What to Watch for This Week
Below is a look at some potential noteworthy accomplishments that could be reached this weekend.
- Tatum Edwards is eight strikeouts away from 500 in her career. Seven Huskers have recorded 500 strikeouts.
- Tatum Edwards is expected to player in her 200th career game Friday, including her 195th start.
- Tatum Edwards needs two doubles to move into Nebraska’s all-time top 10 in that category.
- Taylor Edwards would become only the seventh Husker to produce 40 career doubles with her next double.
- Taylor Edwards is one run away from tying for third on Nebraska’s all-time runs scored chart (168).
- Taylor Edwards (51 homers) needs two home runs to tie Ali Viola’s career record of 53 home runs.
- Taylor Edwards needs only two total bases to become the third Husker to total 400 bases in a career.
- Taylor Edwards needs two runs scored to become the ninth Husker to score 50 runs in a season.
- Taylor Edwards’ next home run would make her the first Husker to produce two seasons with more than 15 homers.
- Taylor Edwards needs one double to become only the second Husker and just the 12th player in Big Ten history to produce 40 career doubles and 40 career home runs. She currently owns 39 doubles and 51 home runs.
‘TNT’ Among Top Home Run Tandems
Senior twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards have each hit double-digit home runs this season. Each twin has produced three seasons with double-digit home runs, becoming only the third and fourth players in school history to accomplish that feat. Taylor leads the Big Ten with 15 home runs this spring, while Tatum ranks third with 10 homers. The twins are two of only four Big Ten players with 10 home runs this spring.
The Edwards twins have combined for 25 homers this season, bettering last year’s combined total of 24 home runs. As freshmen, Tatum and Taylor combined for 32 home runs, a mark the duo could challenge this season.
In their careers, Taylor ranks sixth nationally and first among Big Ten hitters with 51 career home runs. She is one of only two Huskers to hit 50 career home runs and one of only 12 Big Ten players to reach the mark. Tatum is 19th nationally and second among all Big Ten hitters with 42 career home runs. Together, the twins have combined for 93 career home runs, a total that ties for second nationally.
‘TNT’ Among Big Ten’s Most Powerful Hitters
Tatum and Taylor Edwards rank as two of the best power hitters and run producers in school history. Taylor ranks second in Husker history in home runs (51 - two shy of the school record) and RBIs (191 - 22 shy of the school record), while Tatum is fourth in homers (42) and fifth in RBIs (145). While both players rank among the top five home run and RBI producers in school history, the duo are also among the most productive active hitters in the Big Ten and nationally.
Taylor leads all current Big Ten players with 51 home runs and 191 RBIs, while Tatum is second in home runs and third in RBIs. Among all players nationally, Taylor ranks fourth in RBIs and sixth in home runs, while Tatum is 16th in home runs and 33rd in RBIs. Tatum and Taylor are two of only 26 players nationally among the more than 4,500 Division I players with more than 40 career home runs.