NU Heads to Oklahoma to Battle Cowgirls, Sooners
The 15th-ranked Nebraska softball team continues its challenging early-season schedule with a pair of road doubleheaders this weekend. The Huskers face Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Friday, before traveling to Norman to take on No. 13 Oklahoma - the defending national champion - on Saturday.
Friday's doubleheader will start at 4 p.m. and Nebraska and Oklahoma have announced that Saturday's doubleheader will now start at Noon, instead of 2 p.m.
Nate Rohr will have the call for a free radio broadcast of all four games on Huskers.com, while both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will offer a subscription-based live video stream of each doubleheader.
Nebraska (9-5) fell to No. 15 in the rankings this week following a 2-3 performance last weekend. NU defeated No. 12 Texas A&M and unranked Boise State, while falling to No. 2 Tennessee, No. 5 UCLA and No. 9 Arizona, which have a combined 45-1 record this spring. Counting a 1-1 split with No. 9 Florida State the opening weekend, the Huskers have played six of their first 14 games against top-15 teams with every team ranked in the top 10 at one point this spring. NU has played more games against ranked teams than any other top-25 team, while facing a top-15 opponent two more times than any other ranked team. The Huskers own a 2-4 record against teams currently ranked in the top 15, while the other 11 Big Ten Conference teams own a combined 3-18 record against top-15 opponents.
The Huskers have a chance to improve upon their record against ranked teams when they face No. 13 Oklahoma twice on Saturday. That doubleheader will wrap up an eight-day period that saw NU face six top-15 teams in a nine-game stretch. NU split a doubleheader with the top-ranked Sooners last season, and despite a more difficult schedule, the Huskers are just one game off last year’s pace, when Nebraska improved throughout the season and earned a trip to the Women’s College World Series.
The Husker offense showed signs of improvement last weekend. NU managed eight runs in its four games against top-15 opponents. Nebraska became the first team in five games to score a run against No. 2 Tennessee and All-American Ellen Renfroe last Saturday, and the Huskers have scored the only two earned runs Renfroe has allowed in 45.1 innings. The next day, Nebraska put up two runs against Ally Carda and No. 8 UCLA, scoring two of the three earned runs Carda has allowed in 53.0 innings.
Senior Taylor Edwards hit safely in all five games last weekend, stretching her career-long hitting streak to 17 games. She has faced nine top-15 opponents and six All-America pitchers during her streak. Taylor’s twin sister Tatum led NU’s pitching staff last weekend, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.91 ERA. She allowed only one earned run in a nine-inning victory against No. 12 Texas A&M and tossed her first career no-hitter against Boise State to close out the weekend.
Scouting the Oklahoma State Cowgirls (10-5)
Oklahoma State is 10-5 this season with two losses to teams currently ranked in the top 25. The Cowgirls were also in Cathedral City, Calif., last weekend, where they compiled a 3-2 record at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. OSU will open its home schedule against the Huskers on Friday. The Cowgirls will also host Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a Saturday doubleheader, in what was originally scheduled as their home opener.
Offensively, OSU is owns a .301 team batting average while averaging 4.6 runs per game. Danielle Riddle is one of three Cowgirls hitting better than .400 this spring. Riddle leads the team with a .448 average and has driven in eight. Shannon Kaufman is hitting .405 and Shelby Davis is batting .404 with 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts. Tarah Ettinger has slugged two of Oklahoma State’s five home runs, while producing 11 RBIs to complement a .333 average. Ari Morrison (.327) is also hitting above .300, while Tiffany Mikkelson owns team-high totals of four doubles and 14 RBIs.
In the circle, the Cowgirls boast a 1.73 team ERA. Simone Freeman is off to a terrific start this spring, posting an 8-2 record with a 0.85 ERA in 66.0 innings. She has started 10 of Oklahoma State’s 15 games and owns four shutouts. Opponents are hitting just .138 against her and she has struck out 98, an average of 10.4 strikeouts per seven innings. Whitney Whitehorn has seen the most action behind Freeman, compiling a 2-2 record with a 1.75 ERA in 20.0 innings. Peyton Walker (0-0, 3.50 ERA in 10.0 IP) and Meagan Lively (0-1, 9.19 ERA in 5.1 IP) round out the Cowgirl staff.
While OSU’s pitching staff has excelled, its defense has struggled. Oklahoma State has committed 28 errors in its first 15 games, posting a .937 fielding percentage. The Cowgirls are allowing an average of nearly one unearned run per game.
Oklahoma State is led by eighth-year head coach Rich Wieligman, who owns a 238-173 record. He took the Cowgirls to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 2009 to 2011, including a trip to the 2011 Women’s College World Series.
Husker History vs. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State leads the all-time series with Nebraska by just one game, 47-46. A sweep on Sunday would allow NU to regain the all-time series lead for the first time since the 2007 season. Nebraska and Oklahoma State are meeting for the 32nd consecutive year, dating back to 1983. The Huskers have won four of the last five meetings, including a doubleheader sweep at Cowgirl Stadium last season. Nebraska is 11-19 all-time in Stillwater, but the Huskers snapped a five-game losing streak at Cowgirl Stadium with last season’s victories.
Nebraska outscored Oklahoma State 13-5 in last year’s doubleheader. The Huskers posted a 3-0 victory in game one behind a four-hit shutout from Tatum Edwards, who also added eight strikeouts. Hailey Decker paced the offensive effort with a 2-for-3 performance that included a two-run home run. Dawna Tyson also slugged her first career home run in the win. In game two, both teams put up five runs in the first inning. Emily Lockman earned the win, rebounding from a pair of first-inning home runs to keep the Cowgirls off the scoreboard over the final six innings, limiting OSU to just three singles during that time. Offensively, NU pounded out 12 hits in the win, including multi-hit efforts from Kiki Stokes and Tyson. Stokes produced two hits and a pair of runs, while Tyson was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, her second career home run and second straight game with a homer.
The game two victory at Oklahoma State last season marked Rhonda Revelle’s 768th victory at Nebraska, making her the Huskers’ all-time wins leader across all sports.
Scouting the Oklahoma Sooners (10-5)
Oklahoma enters a Friday doubleheader with Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a 10-5 record and a No. 13 ranking. Last season, the Sooners finished 57-4 en route to capturing their second national championship. Like Nebraska, four of Oklahoma’s five losses have come to teams ranked in the top 15 this week, while the fifth was to Cal State Fullerton. The Sooners went 4-1 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic last weekend.
The Sooners lost three All-Americans from their 2013 batting lineup, but have still put up strong numbers offensively this spring. Oklahoma is hitting .266 as a team and averaging 6.2 runs per game. Shelby Pendley, a 2013 second-team All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year, is batting .429 with eight doubles, three home runs and 18 RBIs. Destinee Martinez is hitting .340 with three doubles and six stolen bases, while Georgia Casey is hitting .327 with four homers and 12 RBIs. Two-time All-American Lauren Chamberlain - who is a threat to challenge the NCAA’s all-time career home run mark - is off to a bit of a slow start to her junior season. She is hitting just .194 with only one home run, but teams have walked her 19 times in only 15 games, as she owns a .482 on-base percentage.
In the circle, Stanford transfer Kelsey Stevens is 7-3 with a 2.40 ERA in her first year at Oklahoma. She has started nine of Oklahoma’s 15 games and appeared in all but two contests, throwing 55.1 innings. Opponents are hitting just .207 against Stevens, but have produced 17 extra-base hits, including seven home runs. Nebraska faced Stevens in last year’s NCAA Lincoln Regional, as Stevens allowed six run on seven hits in 6.0 combined innings of work over two games. Behind Stevens, Casey has seen the most action, compiling a 1-1 record with a 4.07 ERA in 22.1 innings. Taylor Dewbery (1-0, 3.62 ERA in 9.2 IP), Leslie Miller (1-0, 4.67 ERA in 6.0 IP) and Maggie Ham (0-1, 6.30 ERA in 3.1 IP) round out the Sooner staff.
Oklahoma is led by Hall of Fame Head Coach Patty Gasso. The 2013 National Coach of the Year, Gasso owns a 1,099-347-3 record in 24 seasons as a college coach, as she is looking for her 1,100th victory on Saturday. In 20 seasons at Oklahoma, Gasso has led the Sooners to a pair of national championships and eight trips to the Women’s College World Series. Gasso owns a 938-288-2 record at Oklahoma.
Husker History vs. Oklahoma
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Oklahoma by a slim 41-40 margin. The Sooners have won 11 of the last 14 meetings dating back to 2007, including winning two of three meetings last season. A sweep this weekend would give Oklahoma its first series lead since it led the series 7-6 in 1984. The Huskers and Sooners met three times last year, with Oklahoma ranked No. 1 in each meeting. OU pulled away late in winning the first two games, before Nebraska posted a 1-0 shutout in the final meeting. The teams split last year’s doubleheader at the OU Softball Complex, and the Huskers own a 13-14 all-time record in Norman.
In the first meeting last year, Tatum Edwards took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Oklahoma scored twice to earn a 2-0 victory. Edwards fired a two-hitter in the loss and struck out eight, but walked nine and hit one batter. In game one of a doubleheader in Norman the next weekend, the game was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning before OU scored seven two-out runs to claim a 10-3 victory. Edwards again walked nine in the loss and allowed a career-high 10 runs. In game two, Emily Lockman fired a seven-hit shutout to hand Oklahoma its first loss of the season. Lockman worked around the seven hits and five walks to become one of only two pitchers to shut out the national champion Sooners in 2013. Offensively, Tatum Edwards accounted for the game’s lone run with a fifth-inning solo home run.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few brief notes heading into weekend doubleheaders at Oklahoma State on Friday and No. 13 Oklahoma on Saturday.
- The Huskers are 445-252 (.638) all-time in the month of March. NU posted a 14-3 record last March.
- NU owns a 9-5 record in February and will post a winning February for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons.
- Sixteen of the 31 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored with two outs (52 percent).
- Nebraska’s five losses this season have come to teams with a combined 66-11 record.
- Four of the five teams to beat Nebraska this season are ranked in the top 10 of the USA Softball poll this week.
- Nebraska is 9-1 this season when recording at least five hits, but is 0-4 when totaling fewer than five hits.
- The Huskers are 8-0 this season when scoring first.
- NU has used 11 different batting lineups in its first 14 games this season.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game nine times in their careers.
- Tatum Edwards needs four runs scored to reach 100 runs scored in her career.
- Tatum Edwards needs two doubles to become the sixth Husker with 30 career doubles and 30 career homers.
- Taylor Edwards is one home run shy of becoming the third Husker to hit 40 career home runs.
- Taylor Edwards is one hit-by-pitch shy of becoming the second Husker with 30 career hit-by-pitches.
- Taylor Edwards made her 75th consecutive start at catcher in NU’s last game against Boise State.
- Hailey Decker made her 75th consecutive start at second base in Nebraska’s last game against Boise State.
Taylor Edwards on 17-Game Hitting Streak
Senior Taylor Edwards has hit safely in all 14 games this season, and she owns a hit in 17 consecutive games dating back to game three of last year’s NCAA Super Regional at No. 3 Oregon. Edwards’ 17-game hitting streak ties for the fourth-longest streak in school history along with Tobin Echo-Hawk, who hit safely in 17 straight games as a junior in 1995 (April 1-16). Ali Viola posted a 19-game hitting streak on two occasions, once as a freshman in 1995 (April 10-29) and again as a senior in 1998 (March 19-April 10). Anne Steffan holds the school record for longest hitting streak at 26 games, established during Steffan’s senior season in 2005 (Feb. 18-March 23).
In addition to posting the fourth-longest hitting streak in school history, Edwards has established the longest hitting streak to open a season in school history by collecting a hit in each of Nebraska’s first 14 games this spring. Edwards is hitting .467 (21-for-45) this season and overall, she owns a .448 average (26-for-58) during her 17-game hitting streak with two doubles and four home runs. Edwards has produced seven multi-hit efforts during her hitting streak, including six multi-hit games this season.
Edwards’ streak is made more impressive by the fact that NU has faced a top-15 opponent in nine of the 17 games during her hitting streak. During that time, Edwards has faced off against an All-America pitcher six times.
Tyson to Fill in at First Base This Weekend
Sophomore Dawna Tyson is expected to be Nebraska’s starting first baseman this weekend, after Mattie Fowler suffered an injury last weekend. Tyson started the final three games of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at first base, and she earned four starts as the Huskers’ designated player in the first two weekends this spring. Although she is off to a slow start offensively this season, Tyson produced a career weekend last season in Nebraska’s road doubleheaders at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
Tyson earned her final two starts at first base in 2013 during the Huskers’ doubleheader at Oklahoma, then was the starting designated player for both games of a doubleheader at Oklahoma State the next day. Tyson delivered one hit, scored one run and was hit by one pitch while going 1-for-4 against a pair of Sooner All-Americans. The next day, Tyson went 3-for-7 with a pair of homers, four RBIs and two runs scored in the doubleheader against the Cowgirls. She homered in each game of the doubleheader, marking the first home runs of her career. Overall, Tyson went 4-for-11 (.364) with two homers and four RBIs in the four games.
Huskers Continue Challenging Schedule
Nebraska continues its challenging early-season schedule this weekend with four road games against Big 12 Conference opponents Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, both of whom have made Women’s College World Series appearances in the past three seasons. The defending national champion Sooners are ranked 13th in this week’s USA Softball poll, as OU wraps up a stretch of six games vs. top-15 opponents in a nine-game span for NU.
Of the 25 teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA poll this week, Nebraska has played more fellow ranked teams than any other team in the poll. The Huskers have played six games against ranked opponents, ahead of No. 10 Arizona (5), No. 22 LSU (5), No. 6 Michigan (4), No. 12 Baylor (4), No. 17 Missouri (4) and No. 20 Oklahoma (4). Each of NU’s six games against ranked opponents have been against teams ranked in the top 15 this week. NU has played two more games against top-15 teams than any other ranked team. The only other ranked teams who have played more than two games against top-15 teams are Missouri (4), Oklahoma (4) and Arizona (3).
Two-Out Troubles Plaguing Nebraska vs. Ranked Opponents
Nebraska is 2-4 against ranked opponents this spring, with all four losses coming to teams currently ranked in the top 10. While the Huskers had hoped for better success against top competition, the good news for the Big Red is how close it has been to pulling off more victories. The difference between winning and losing has often come down to one out, as NU has struggled to get the crucial third out of an inning in its losses to ranked opponents.
In its four losses to ranked teams, Nebraska is allowing its opponents to hit .350 (14-for-40) with two outs. In those losses, the opponents are slugging .525 with two outs and reaching base at a clip of .469. As a result, 14 of the 23 runs Nebraska has allowed in its losses to ranked foes have scored with two outs, an average of 2.5 runs per game. NU is allowing an average of 5.8 runs per game in its four losses to top-25 opponents this spring, but a timely third out would lower that average to 2.3 runs per game.
Breaking down these statistics in a game-by-game fashion illustrate just how close Nebraska has been to being in a position to beat some of the best teams in the nation. In the Huskers’ 5-1 loss to No. 9 Florida State, all five Seminoles runs scored with two outs, as a well-timed third out would have ended every scoring inning for FSU before a run had crossed home plate. In a 5-3 loss to No. 2 Tennessee, four of the five runs NU allowed scored with two outs, costing the Huskers an upset. In a 6-2 loss to No. 5 UCLA, five of the six runs the Bruins scored crossed home plate with two outs, as a timely third out would have limited UCLA to just one run in the game.
In its two wins against ranked opponents, Nebraska has been much better at preventing two-out rallies, holding opponents to just one two-out run in a 4-3 victory over Florida State and a 3-2 win over No. 13 Texas A&M.
For comparison’s sake, Nebraska has been dominant with two outs against non-ranked teams. Unranked opponents are hitting just .056 (3-for-54) with two outs against the Huskers and have scored only one two-out run in eight games, while all ranked opponents are batting .288 (17-for-59) and have scored 15 two-out runs in six games.
Huskers Hoping to Be Road Warriors Again This Season
Nebraska is 2-0 in true road games this season, defeating New Mexico State 11-0 in five innings on Feb. 8 and winning at Houston, 4-1, on Feb. 14. The Huskers have won three straight road games counting the game three NCAA Super Regional victory at No. 3 Oregon last season. Nebraska posted a 17-7 road record in 2013, setting a school record for most road victories in a season (previous record was 12 in 2001). The Huskers handed Oregon its only two home losses of the season last spring, while NU was one of only two teams to beat Oklahoma at the OU Softball Complex in 2013.
Nebraska has a chance to become only the second team in school history to win its first five road games of the season. The 2001 Huskers went 11-0 in their first 11 road games en route to a final 12-1 road record. That group is the only team in school history to win their first five road games of the season. Five other teams were victorious in their first four away games before losing the fifth.