Nebraska is the No. 2 seed in the Stanford Regional.
Photo by BreAnna Haessler/NU Media Relations

Nebraska Headed to Stanford for NCAA Regional Play

By NU Athletic Communications
The 16th-ranked Nebraska softball team travels west this weekend to make its 21st all-time NCAA Tournament appearance. The Huskers are headed to California to compete in the Stanford Regional on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium.

NU is the No. 2 seed in the Stanford Regional and will face third-seeded Fresno State on Friday at 5 p.m. (Central). The Bulldogs are making their nation-leading 30th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance after earning an at-large berth into the postseason. Host Stanford is the region’s top seed and the No. 15 national seed. The Cardinal, who also earned an at-large NCAA Tournament berth, will face Pacific, the region’s No. 4 seed, on Friday at 8 p.m. (Central). The Tigers earned an automatic NCAA Tournament berth by winning their first Big West Conference title.

Although there is no television or live video coverage planned for the Stanford Regional, Huskers.com will offer a free radio broadcast of both games, with veteran softball play-by-play announcer Nate Rohr calling all of the action. If Nebraska advances to the championship game on Sunday, that game will be offered to all Husker Sports Network affiliated radio stations.

The Huskers are competing in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st time in school history and for the 16th time in the past 17 seasons. Nebraska ranks ninth in NCAA history in NCAA Tournament appearances (21) and victories (53), and the Huskers’ seven trips to the Women’s College World Series rank eighth in NCAA history. Despite its historical success, Nebraska is looking to advance past the regional round and onto a super regional for the first time since the NCAA adopted its current postseason format beginning with the 2005 season.

Nebraska hopes a challenging schedule has prepared the Huskers for postseason play. NU finished the regular season with a 39-12 record, its best record heading into postseason play since 2006. NU’s strong record came against a tough schedule, as 24 of Nebraska’s 51 games (47 percent) have come against teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, including 10 of Nebraska’s last 14 games and 18 of its last 28. NU has also played one-third of its schedule against ranked teams.

The Huskers have been led by a powerful offense this season and the right arm of ace Ashley Hagemann. Nebraska currently owns the top slugging percentage and on-base percentage in school history and the second-highest batting average and home run total. Freshman Taylor Edwards has led the way, batting .358 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs. The 18 homers lead all freshmen nationally and the 64 RBIs are a Big 12 freshman record.
In the circle, Hagemann has totaled more wins, strikeouts and innings pitched than any junior in school history. She owns a 29-11 record this season with a 1.81 ERA and 305 strikeouts in 247.1 innings. Hagemann is also 12-11 against NCAA Tournament teams, including a relief win over Stanford on Feb. 12.

Scouting the Fresno State Bulldogs (34-17)
Fresno State enters its nation-leading 30th NCAA Tournament appearance with a 34-17 overall record. The Bulldogs finished in a tie for second in the Western Athletic Conference with a 15-6 league record. Nebraska and Fresno State share nine common opponents this season in Baylor, BYU, Hawaii, Missouri, New Mexico State, Nevada, Oklahoma State, San Jose State and Texas. The Huskers posted a 9-7 record against that group, while the Bulldogs went 12-5.

Fresno State is averaging 3.8 runs per game and has homered 31 times in 51 games. Brooke Ortiz is one of three Bulldog starters batting above .300. Ortiz leads the team with a .323 average and has added five doubles, 10 stolen bases and 11 RBIs. Andrea Ortega is batting .315 with six doubles, 23 RBIs and a team-high 17 walks. Haley Gilleland is the final Bulldog hitting better than .300, as she is batting .301 with a team-high 26 stolen bases. Michelle Moses is the top power threat, as she leads Fresno State with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs to complement a .261 average.

In the circle, Fresno State boasts a 2.53 ERA and is allowing 3.2 runs per game. Moses is 15-11 with a 2.60 ERA in a team-high 183.1 innings. She is averaging 8.0 strikeouts per seven innings and opponents are hitting only .209 against her. Mackenzie Oakes is 18-6 with a 2.40 ERA in 154.1 innings and has struck out 79, while walking 55. Nicole Angene (1-0, 1.84 ERA in 19.0 IP) is the Bulldogs’ No. 3 pitcher.

Fresno State leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 11-7, including a 3-2 edge in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs have won the last two meetings, five of the last six and 10 of the last 12. The teams last met in March of 2007, with Fresno State earning a 3-2 win in Las Vegas. The last postseason meeting came at the 1998 Women’s College World Series, with the Bulldogs defeating Nebraska 5-1 en route to capturing the national championship.

Nebraska vs. the Rest of the Stanford Regional Field
Host Stanford is the No. 15 overall seed and is ranked 11th in this week’s top-25 poll. The Cardinal are 38-15 on the season, but have lost four of their last five games while losing 2-of-3 games to No. 1 Arizona State and No. 11 Oregon the past two weekends. Stanford finished with a 10-11 record in the Pac-10 Conference. That was good for a fifth-place finish in a conference that has seven teams ranked in the top 15.

The Cardinal are solid at the plate, in the field and in the circle. Stanford owns a .308 team batting average and is averaging 5.3 runs per game. The Cardinal are allowing only 2.4 runs per game and own a 1.90 staff ERA and a .971 team fielding percentage. The offense is led by Ashley Hansen, one of 10 finalists for the USA Softball Player-of-the-Year award. Hansen is batting a nation-high .506 with 24 doubles, nine home runs and 43 RBIs. She owns a .568 on-base percentage, with 24 walks and only four strikeouts. In the circle, Teagan Gerhart is the Cardinal ace, as she is 22-11 with a 1.78 ERA and 226 strikeouts in 220.2 innings this season. Nebraska defeated Stanford, 3-2, in nine innings on Feb. 12 this season, to tie the all-time series at 4-4.

Pacific is the fourth seed in the Stanford Regional and enters the postseason with a 37-17 record. The Tigers went 16-5 to win the Big West Conference for the first time in school history and earn the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid. The Tigers are led by an offense that is averaging 5.4 runs per game and ranks 14th nationally with a .327 team batting average. Defensively, Pacific is allowing 3.8 runs per game and has committed 63 errors.

Individually, the Tigers’ top average is owned by Kelsey Rodriguez (.395), while Nicole Matson is the top power hitter with 11 doubles, 10 homers and 49 RBIs. Overall, seven starters are batting better than .300. In the circle, Nikki Armagost is the staff ace with a 19-9 record, 133 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA in 184.1 innings.

Quick Hitters
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes of interest as No. 16 Nebraska travels west to compete in the NCAA Stanford Regional this weekend:
  • The Huskers are 164-107 (.616) all-time in the month of May.
  • Nebraska is 35-2 this season when out-hitting its opponent.
  • NU is 30-3 this season when scoring first. NU is also 16-0 when scoring in the first inning.
  • The Huskers are 37-3 this season when scoring at least three runs.
  • Nebraska needs one win to post the ninth 40-win season in school history, and the first since 2006.
  • Nebraska is 8-9 against ranked teams this season, as the Huskers have played exactly one-third of their schedule against top-25 opponents (17 of 51 games).
  • The Huskers have recorded the best 10-, 20- and 30-game records in school history and matched the second-best 40-game mark and sixth-best 50-game record in program history.
  • NU’s four-game win streak heading into the NCAA Tournament is its longest entering the postseason since 2004.
  • Nebraska has won nine consecutive games against non-conference opponents, including four straight against top-25 opponents. The Huskers’ last non-conference loss came on March 18 at New Mexico State.
  • The Huskers have hit 55 home runs this season, the second-highest total in program history. The only team to hit more home runs than this year’s squad was the 1998 Huskers, who homered 62 times en route to advancing to the Women’s College World Series.
  • Heidi Foland enters postseason play with 24 career home runs, one shy of 10th place on the NU career chart.
  • Freshman twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards have hit 14 and 18 home runs this season, respectively. Prior to this year, no Husker freshman had ever hit 14 home runs in a season.
  • Brooke Thomason has 100 career hits, becoming the first sophomore to reach the mark since Nicole Trimboli (2002).
  • Ashley Hagemann has allowed only three first-inning runs all season, with all three runs coming last Saturday against then-No. 20 Oklahoma State.
  • Hagemann owns a 0.67 ERA in her three career NCAA Tournament starts.
  • The average RPI of the Stanford Regional field is 31.0, making it the toughest regional in the country.
Schedule Has Huskers Prepared for Postseason
Nebraska has faced a challenging schedule this season, which the Huskers hope bodes well for postseason play. NU posted a 39-12 record in the regular season and finished sixth in a Big 12 Conference that sent a nation-best eight teams to the NCAA Tournament. Below are a few notes about Nebraska’s challenging schedule:
  • Nebraska has played one-third of its schedule (17 of 51 games) against ranked teams this season.
  • The Huskers are 8-9 against ranked teams this season, including a 4-5 mark against top-10 opponents.
  • NU has played 47 percent of its games (24 of 51 games) against teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, including games against eight of the 16 national seeds.
  • The Huskers own a 13-11 record in their 24 games against NCAA Tournament teams, including a 4-9 mark against national seeds.
  • Ten of Nebraska’s 12 losses this season have come to teams ranked in the top 30 of the NCAA RPI.
  • NU owns a 3-5 record against the RPI top 10, a 6-9 mark against the top 20 and a 7-10 record vs. the top 30.
  • Nebraska defeated then-No. 1 Florida, 1-0, on March 12. The win marked the Huskers’ first-ever victory over a No. 1 team, while the loss is still the Gators’ lone loss to a non-SEC team this season (26-1).
  • The Huskers have played 73 percent of their games away from home (37 of 51 games). Nebraska owns an 18-2 record at neutral sites this season and an 11-6 mark in true road games.
  • NU’s 11 road wins this season are the third-highest total in school history.
Taylor Edwards Sets Big 12 Freshman RBI Mark
Freshman Taylor Edwards hit a game-tying three-run homer against Oklahoma State on May 14 to give her 64 RBIs this season, the most ever by a Big 12 freshman. Edwards’ total eclipsed the previous record of 62, set last season by All-Americans Meagan May (Texas A&M) and Jessica Shults (Oklahoma). Edwards broke the record in only 50 games, while Shults needed 59 games to set the previous mark and May needed 60 games.

Edwards has driven in at least one run in 33 of her 51 games (65 percent), including 22 multi-RBI contests. Her 64 RBIs rank third in Husker history and are the second-highest total by a freshman.

Thomason Hitting Stride Entering NCAA Tournament
Sophomore Brooke Thomason has caught fire over her last seven games, hitting safely in each contest to establish her longest hitting streak of the season. Thomason is batting .450 (9-for-20) during her seven-game hitting streak, with two home runs, six RBIs, a .750 slugging percentage and a .522 on-base percentage. The impressive totals have come against solid competition, as all seven games have been against Big 12 teams, including four games against top-20 opponents.

Taylor Edwards Among 25 Player of the Year Finalists
Freshman Taylor Edwards was named one of 25 national finalists for the 2011 USA Softball College Player-of-the-Year award, announced on April 13. Edwards was the only freshman to make the list, and is the first Husker to be named one of the 25 finalists since Peaches James in 2004.

Three Huskers Earn All-Big 12 Awards
A trio of Huskers earned All-Big 12 honors in a vote of the league’s coaches, the conference announced on May 17. Junior right-hander Ashley Hagemann was Nebraska’s lone first-team selection, while freshman twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards both garnered second-team accolades.

Hagemann’s first-team selection marked the first All-Big 12 award of her career. Her selection increased Nebraska’s Big 12-leading total to 17 all-conference pitchers in the 16-year history of the league, while Hagemann became Nebraska’s 13th first-team All-Big 12 pitcher. The Edwards twins were each honored in their freshman season, as Nebraska had a pair of freshmen earn all-Big 12 honors for only the second time in school history and the first time since 2001.

Hagemann Sets Husker Class Records, Posts 300th Strikeout
Ashley Hagemann is 29-11 this season with 305 strikeouts and 28 complete games in 247.1 innings. Her 29 wins are three more than any other junior has produced in school history, while she also owns the class record for strikeouts, complete games and innings pitched. Hagemann’s 305 strikeouts are one better than Ashley DeBuhr recorded as a junior in 2006 and rank as the third-highest overall total in school history. 

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