Lincoln - An eight-run third inning powered the 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team to a 11-2 series-clinching five-inning victory over the Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday at Bowlin Stadium.
The Huskers broke a 2-2 tie with the eight-run third inning. Nebraska sent 14 batters to the plate in the frame, producing six hits and five walks. The big inning helped NU win its 30th game, as the Huskers improved to 30-9 overall and 8-3 in Big Ten Conference play.
Four Huskers drove in more than two runs, while freshman Alicia Armstrong and senior Brooke Thomason produced multi-hit efforts. Armstrong, who hit in the leadoff spot for the first time, tied her career high with three hits, and she also drove in three runs for her first career multi-RBI game. Thomason collected both of her two hits in the eight-run third inning, producing three RBIs. Junior Taylor Edwards hit her ninth home run of the season and drove in a pair, while sophomore Mattie Fowler was 1-for-3 with two runs scored.
Nebraska also drew eight walks in the game from six different players, including freshman Hailey Decker and senior Gabby Banda, who each walked twice.
In the circle, junior right-hander Tatum Edwards (19-6) did not allow an earned run, as she worked around three hits and three Husker errors in a complete-game effort.
Cassandra Darrah (17-5) took the loss for Wisconsin, which fell to 29-8 with the loss and 7-5 in conference play. Darrah allowed six runs (five earned) on just three hits in 2.0 innings.
Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning, with help from a Husker error. The error and a double put Badgers on second and third with one out, before a two-out infield single gave Wisconsin a 1-0 lead.
Nebraska answered in the bottom of the frame, as a Wisconsin error put Banda on first base with one out before Taylor Edwards ripped a two-run homer to right center to give the Huskers a 2-1 advantage.
Another miscue nearly cost the Huskers again in the top of the second. A leadoff bunt turned into a two-base error as Fowler could not handle the throw from catcher Taylor Edwards. The Badgers then had a runner at third with one out and attempted a squeeze. Tatum Edwards made a nice attempt to get the runner at home, but her throw was not in time. However, upon appeal, the base runner was ruled to have missed home plate, negating the run. The Huskers then escaped the jam without any damage following a ground out.
The Huskers committed an error for the third straight inning in the top of the third. With a runner on first and one out, Mary Massei lined a sharp single to right field that went under the glove of Thomason and rolled all the way to the fence, allowing the tying runner to score and Massei to advance all the way to third. Tatum Edwards then worked around the error to leave the runner stranded at third with back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame.
In the bottom of the third, a leadoff infield single from Armstrong was followed by walks to Banda and Taylor Edwards that loaded the bases with no outs. Thomason then delivered a clutch two-run double to right center on a 1-2 pitch that gave Nebraska a 4-2 lead and marked the end of the day for Darrah. Meghan McIntosh came into a tough situation with runners on second and third and no outs and promptly issued a walk to load the bases.
Fowler then came through with a two-run single up the middle to make it 6-2. Another walk to Tatum Edwards loaded the bases again, before senior Courtney Breault recorded an RBI single to right field. Trailing 7-2 and with the bases still loaded, Wisconsin recorded the first out of the inning on a strikeout before Armstrong delivered her second hit of the inning, a two-run single that made it 9-2. Banda's second walk of the inning loaded the bases once more before McIntosh recorded the second out. Thomason then lined an RBI single to left field scoring freshman pinch runner Kiki Stokes with the eighth run of the inning to give NU a 10-2 advantage.
The Huskers added another run in the bottom of the fourth. Back-to-back two-out walks came back to cost Wisconsin when Armstrong delivered an RBI single to left that fell just out of the glove of a sliding Kendall Grimm.
Needing three outs to close out the run-rule victory, Tatum Edwards hit the first batter of the of the fifth inning and then walked the next hitter. The Badgers had the bases loaded with one out, when Grimm was thrown out attempting to score when a pitch got away from Taylor Edwards. A ground out then wrapped up the victory.
The Huskers continue their homestand on Tuesday with a rescheduled doubleheader with Minnesota beginning at 4 p.m.