The 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team begins a six-game homestand this weekend with a three-game series against the Wisconsin Badgers at Bowlin Stadium. The series begins on Friday at 4 p.m., with first pitch on Saturday set for 1 p.m. and Sunday’s finale slated to start at Noon.
Several fan-friendly promotions are scheduled throughout this weekend. On Friday, fans are encouraged to bring their dogs to Bowlin Stadium for the second annual “Bark in the Park” day. Saturday is “Youth Day” at Bowlin Stadium, where kids in the eighth grade and below will be admitted for free to sit in general admission seating if they are wearing their team uniform. All three games this weekend will also feature $1 general admission seating if fans present a same-day Husker baseball ticket.
Fans can purchase tickets 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, as Nate Rohr will call all of the action for a free radio broadcast of all three games on Huskers.com.
This weekend’s series will help determine the top of Big Ten standings after the first half of conference play. Nebraska enters the weekend in third place in the league standings with a 6-2 conference record, one game behind second-place Michigan State (7-1) and 2 1/2 games behind league-leading Michigan (9-0). Wisconsin is one-half game behind Nebraska and in a fourth-place tie with Minnesota with a 6-3 Big Ten record. The Badgers and Huskers rank first and third, respectively, in overall winning percentage among Big Ten teams. Wisconsin is 28-6 (.824) this spring, while Nebraska is 28-8 (.778).
Nebraska is coming off a 5-2 road trip that saw the Huskers win Big Ten series at Illinois and Iowa, in addition to a mid-week win at Creighton on April 3. NU has won 17 of its last 20 games, and the Huskers are hoping to improve on their recent success at Bowlin Stadium. Nebraska is 7-1 at home this season, and the Huskers have won 28 of their last 31 home games dating back to 2011. NU is 12-1 all-time in Big Ten Conference home games, including a 2-0 mark this season and a 10-1 record last spring. The only Big Ten team to come into Lincoln and defeat Nebraska was Wisconsin, which won the series opener last season before losing the next two games.
While Nebraska has excelled at home again this spring, the Badgers are yet to play a home game due to inclement weather. Wisconsin is heading on the road for a Big Ten series for the fourth straight weekend. UW is 9-4 in true road games this season, including a 6-3 record in Big Ten play.
Scouting the Wisconsin Badgers (28-6 Overall, 6-3 Big Ten)
Wisconsin had its Wednesday doubleheader with Northern Iowa, which was scheduled to be the Badgers’ home opener, canceled due to inclement weather. UW brings a 28-6 overall record into this weekend’s series, and the Badgers are just behind Nebraska in fourth place in the Big Ten standings with a 6-3 conference record. Wisconsin went 5-1 in back-to-back weekends at Illinois and Iowa to open conference play, while Nebraska posted a 4-2 record at Illinois and Iowa the past two weekends. The Badgers lost their first conference series of the season last weekend, dropping 2-of-3 games at Minnesota.
Wisconsin, which fell out of the national rankings this week, is one of the most complete teams in the Big Ten. The Badgers lead the league with a 1.55 ERA and 75 stolen bases, rank second with a .324 batting average, .469 slugging percentage and .396 on-base percentage and are third with a .966 fielding percentage.
Offensively, Mary Massei and Maria Van Abel are both batting better than .400. Massei ranks fourth in the league with a .445 batting average, and she has added a Big Ten-best three triples to go along with nine doubles, four home runs and 27 RBIs. Van Abel is batting .405 with eight stolen bases and eight sacrifices. Five other Badgers are hitting above .300. Kendall Grimm is batting .387, while Whitney Massey is hitting .356 with team-high totals of 14 doubles and seven home runs. Her 14 doubles lead the Big Ten. Michelle Mueller owns a .352 average and has added seven doubles, three home runs and 25 RBIs, while Shannel Blackshear is batting .323 with team-high totals of seven home runs, 18 walks and 28 RBIs. Stephanie Peace (.319) rounds out the group of .300 hitters, and she has stolen a team-high 17 bases.
In the circle, all three Wisconsin pitchers own an ERA below 1.75. Ace Cassandra Darrah is 16-4 on the year with a 1.74 ERA in 136.2 innings. She ranks fifth in the league in ERA, but Darrah is only 3-3 with a 2.19 ERA in conference play. Meghan McIntosh is 8-2 on the year with a 1.07 ERA in 58.2 innings. Opponents are hitting only .159 against her, and she has thrown two no-hitters this season, including one last weekend against Minnesota that helped McIntosh earn Big Ten Pitcher-of-the-Week honors for the second time this season. McIntosh is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in conference play, allowing only one run and just five hits in 18.0 innings. Taylor-Paige Stewart (4-0, 1.58 ERA in 35.1 IP) rounds out the Wisconsin staff.
Husker History vs. Wisconsin
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Wisconsin, 8-1. The Huskers won two of the three meetings last season in the teams’ first meeting as Big Ten Conference opponents. Wisconsin’s 3-1 win in the series opener marked the Badgers’ first victory over Nebraska, snapping the Huskers’ six-game win streak in the series. The win also snapped NU’s nation-leading 16-game home win streak, while Wisconsin became the first Big Ten team to win a regular-season game at Bowlin Stadium, which opened in 2002. Nebraska leads the series in Lincoln, 6-1, including a 4-1 mark at Bowlin Stadium. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 8-1 in her career against Wisconsin, including a 2-1 mark against third-year Badger Head Coach Yvette Healy.
Cassandra Darrah allowed only one run in a complete-game effort and Shannel Blackshear drove in two runs to lead Wisconsin to a 3-1 win in last year’s series opener. The Badgers then jumped out to a 4-0 first-inning lead in game two, before Nebraska rallied for a 6-4 win. Tatum Edwards fired a one-hitter for NU, as the Huskers out-hit the Badgers, 10-1. Brooke Thomason and Mattie Fowler each drove in a pair of runs for Nebraska. In game three, Ashley Hagemann fired a four-hitter and allowed only one run, while Thomason and Fowler added Nebraska’s lone RBIs in a 4-1 win. Darrah took the loss despite not allowing an earned run in 4.2 innings.
Thomason went 4-for-7 (.571) with two doubles and three RBIs in last year’s series, while Fowler and Gabby Banda were each 3-for-9, with Fowler adding a double and three RBIs. In the circle, Tatum Edwards was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one appearance against the Badgers last season.
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 481-234 (.673) in the month of April.
- NU was ranked 16th in the third NCAA RPI ranking released on 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 15 games with five freshmen.
- The freshmen have combined for 24 extra-base hits, the ninth-highest total by a freshman class in school history.
- Nebraska has allowed one run or less in 20 of its 36 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 36 games this season.
- Five Huskers have started all 36 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 36 games this season.
- Nebraska is 23-1 when out-hitting its opponent this season.
- The Huskers are 25-2 when recording at least five hits.
- NU is 21-0 when it scores first and 13-0 when it scores in the first inning.
- Nebraska is 16-0 when it scores five-or-more runs.
- NU is 21-0 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, 35 of the 91 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 98 career runs scored. She needs two 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 171 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.
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 different categories. She ranks 20th among all active players with 153 career RBIs, 31st with 38 doubles, 43rd with 85 walks and 49th with 192 hits. Thomason also ranks 53rd with 31 home runs.
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.
There Is No Place Like Home
Following a seven-game road trip, Nebraska returns home to open up a six-game homestand beginning with this weekend’s series with Wisconsin. The Huskers have been tough to beat at Bowlin Stadium in recent years, winning 28 of their last 31 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 7-1 at home this season.
The Huskers have been especially tough at home against Big Ten Conference opponents. Nebraska is 12-1 all-time in Big Ten Conference games at Bowlin Stadium. NU has outscored its opponents 82-31 in its first 13 Big Ten home games, winning by an average of nearly four runs per game.
The Huskers are 2-0 in conference action at Bowlin Stadium this spring, sweeping a weather-shortened two-game series from Northwestern. Nebraska posted a 10-1 Big Ten home record last season, losing only to Wisconsin, a loss which snapped the Huskers’ nation-leading 16-game home winning streak last May.
Lockman Posting Impressive Freshman Totals
Freshman right-hander Emily Lockman is 11-2 this spring with a 1.35 ERA. Lockman not only leads the Big Ten in ERA, but she leads all freshmen nationally in ERA while ranking 20th overall. Lockman’s 1.35 ERA would currently rank as the second-lowest mark by a freshman in Nebraska history, trailing only two-time All-American Lori Sippel, Lockman’s pitching coach. Lockman also ranks in a tie for 13th nationally among all freshmen pitchers with 11 wins this season, while her current .846 winning percentage would be the third-best mark by a freshman in school history.
Taylor Edwards Sets Three-Year Walk Record
Junior Taylor Edwards has walked 22 times this season, pushing her career total to 99 walks, good for fifth in school history. Edwards has already passed three-time All-American Jennifer Lizama for the most walks through a player’s first three seasons in school history. Lizama walked 92 times through her junior season. Edwards is only 26 walks from passing Lizama’s career record of 124 walks.
Edwards also needs only eight more walks to become the first player in school history to draw at least 30 walks in three different seasons. She walked 37 times in 2011 and tied the school record with 40 walks in 2012.
Nebraska has proven run producers throughout its lineup, but senior Brooke Thomason and junior Taylor Edwards have been especially good at driving in runs in their careers. Thomason owns the most career RBIs of any player in the Big Ten Conference, while Edwards is second on that list. Collectively, the duo also ranks as the nation’s sixth-most productive RBI tandem.
Thomason’s 153 RBIs not only lead the Big Ten, but her total would be enough to set the school record at Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Despite her junior status, Edwards would already own the career RBI record at Penn State and Wisconsin. Together, Thomason and Edwards have produced 294 career RBIs, 71 more than the Big Ten’s second-place tandem (Wisconsin’s Shannel Blackshear and Whitney Massey - 223 combined RBIs) and 101 more than the third-place tandem (Michigan’s Ashley Lane and Nicole Sappingfield - 193 combined RBIs). Thomason and Edwards are two of only eight current Big Ten players who have produced 100 career RBIs. Nebraska is the only school in the conference with more than one players who has driven in 100 career RBIs, and junior Tatum Edwards could make it three Huskers in the 100-RBI club, as she enters this week with 95 career RBIs.
Home Sweet Home for Tatum Edwards
Bowlin Stadium has served as a great home for Tatum Edwards, as the junior right-hander owns a 12-0 career record on her home field. She has thrown 75.1 innings in 15 career appearances at Bowlin Stadium, posting a 1.39 ERA, including five shutouts in her 10 starts. A native of Murrieta, Calif., Edwards has held opposing hitters to a .152 batting average at Bowlin Stadium, while averaging one strikeout per inning.
Edwards has not allowed an earned run in 10 of her 15 career appearances in Lincoln, while allowing more than one earned run only three times. This season, Edwards has not allowed an earned run in five of her six appearances at Bowlin Stadium.
As good as Edwards’ numbers at home have been, they’re even better when you take out her impromptu appearance against Iowa State in 2011, when starter Ashley Hagemann got sick during the game and Edwards had to fill in on short notice. Edwards allowed six earned runs in 2.1 innings against the Cyclones that day and taking out that appearance, she is 12-0 with a 0.86 ERA in her career at Bowlin Stadium.
Huskers Getting Defensive
Nebraska’s defense has been much improved this season, after struggling in 2012. The Huskers lead the Big Ten Conference in several defensive categories including the best fielding percentage (.968), the most double plays turned (24), the fewest errors (34) and the lowest opponent stolen-base percentage (59 percent).
Last year, Nebraska finished with a .954 fielding percentage, committing 67 errors. The fielding percentage was the lowest by a Husker team since 1994, while the 67 errors were the most by an NU squad since 2004. Through 36 games this season, Nebraska has already turned eight more double plays (24-to-16) than it did all of last year, while the Huskers have committed 13 fewer errors this season than at the same point last year, while posting a .020 improvement in fielding percentage.
Husker Pitching Also Improved From 2012
Led by junior right-hander Tatum Edwards and freshman right-hander Emily Lockman, Nebraska’s pitching staff has shown great improvement from last year. The Huskers’ staff ERA has been well over one full run lower after every game this season than it was last year. NU has owned a season ERA below 2.00 following 34 of its 36 games this season, including twice where the Huskers’ season ERA was below 1.00. Last year, the lowest Nebraska’s season ERA stood after any one game was 2.79. The Huskers have also allowed one run or less in 20 of their first 36 games this year, after allowing one run or fewer just 16 times in last season’s 55-game schedule.
Nebraska owns six more wins through 36 games this spring than it did a year ago, while boasting a 1.49 lower ERA. The Huskers have also posted three more shutouts this year than they had at the same point last year, while allowing 18 fewer extra-base hits and 49 fewer runs.
Individually, Edwards is 17-6 this season with a 2.04 ERA and six shutouts in 133.2 innings. Through 36 games last season, Edwards was 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA and two shutouts in 45.1 innings.