The 19th-ranked Nebraska softball team continues its eight-game homestand this weekend by hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes at Bowlin Stadium.
Weather has forced a change in the schedule this weekend. The Huskers and Hawkeyes will now meet in a Friday doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday's finale will also start at 4 p.m. and there will be no game Sunday.
Friday is Military Appreciation Day at Bowlin Stadium, where all active and retired military personnel will receive free admission. On Saturday, fans with a ticket to the Red-White Spring Football Game will receive a free general admission softball ticket with their spring game ticket stub. Fathers bringing their daughters to Saturday’s game will also receive a discounted admission of $1 per person. Due to the schedule change, Saturday is also Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Bowlin Stadium, and fans are encouraged to wear pink to support breast cancer awareness. Pink pom-poms will be handed out to the first 500 fans.
Tickets can be purchased 90 minutes prior to first pitch at the Bowlin Stadium ticket office, located at the main entrance to the stadium, behind home plate. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 1-800-8-BIG RED or by going online to Huskers.com. Ticket prices start at $3 for youth and senior general admission seating, $5 for adult general admission and $7 for reserved seating. General admission seating at Bowlin Stadium does include one section of chairback seats.
Fans unable to make it out to Bowlin Stadium this weekend will be able to follow all of the action online. Veteran softball announcer Nate Rohr will call a free radio broadcast of all three games for Huskers.com. Due to the schedule change, live video will only be available for Friday's second game to subscribers of the Big Ten Digital Network at btn.com.
With the Big Ten Conference schedule nearing the halfway point, both Nebraska and Iowa will look to move up the league standings this week. The Huskers enter this weekend’s series in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference with a 5-4 Big Ten record. Iowa sits one game behind the fourth-place teams, as the Hawkeyes are in seventh place with a 5-6 conference mark. The top four teams in the final conference standings earn a first-round bye at the Big Ten Tournament.
Nebraska is also looking to position itself for the postseason. The Huskers fell three spots to No. 10 in this week’s NCAA RPI ranking. With no ranked teams remaining on NU’s schedule, every win is key to helping the Huskers remain in a position to earn one of the 16 national seeds and the right to host an NCAA regional at Bowlin Stadium for the second straight season.
Scouting the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-20 overall, 5-6 Big Ten)
Iowa enters this weekend’s series with a 10-20 overall record and a 5-6 mark in Big Ten play after being swept in a home doubleheader by No. 14 Minnesota on Tuesday. The Hawkeyes sit in seventh place in the Big Ten Conference standings, one game out of a three-way tie for fourth. Iowa and Nebraska have faced three common conference opponents this season in Illinois, Minnesota and Northwestern. The Huskers posted a 5-4 record against that group with series victories at Illinois and Northwestern, while the Hawkeyes posted a 3-5 record with a series win at Illinois.
Iowa is batting .246 as a team and averaging 2.9 runs per game this season. The Hawkeyes are hitting slightly better in Big Ten play at .251, while averaging 3.5 runs per game Three of Iowa’s nine home runs and 10 of the Hawkeyes’ 18 stolen bases have come in conference play.
Megan Blank paces the offense with a .368 average that includes six doubles, three triples, one homer, 12 walks and 17 RBIs. Blank is batting .500 (17-for-34) in Big Ten play with 12 RBIs in 11 games. Brianna Luna owns a .352 average this season, including a .324 mark in conference play. Claire Fritsch is batting .282 with a team-high six stolen bases, while Kayla Massey is hitting .247 with a team-high four home runs. Three of Massey’s four homers have come in Big Ten play, while Whitney Repole is 7-for-23 (.304) in league play after going 7-for-47 (.149) in non-conference games.
In the circle, Iowa boasts a 3.26 ERA and the Hawkeyes are allowing 4.2 runs per game. The staff has been better in Big Ten play, posting a 2.86 ERA while still limiting opponents to 4.2 runs per game. Defensively, Iowa averages nearly two errors per game, posting a .942 fielding percentage that is last in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are fielding at a .950 clip in league play.
Massey is the staff ace, posting a 6-11 record with a 2.55 ERA in 20 appearances, 17 starts and 14 complete games. She has thrown nearly 60 percent of the Hawkeyes’ total innings, striking out 71 batters in 118.0 innings. Massey has started seven of Iowa’s 11 Big Ten games, throwing a complete game each start. She owns a 4-3 record with a 2.18 ERA in conference play and opponents are hitting only .229 against her. Shayla Starkenburg has seen the most action behind Massey, compiling a 3-6 record with a 4.51 ERA in 49.2 innings over 13 appearances, including nine starts. Starkenburg has started Iowa’s other four Big Ten games, posting a 1-3 record with a 4.01 ERA. Micaela Whitney is the Hawkeyes’ third pitcher, and she owns a 1-3 record with a 4.01 ERA in 29.2 innings. Whitney has thrown just 4.1 innings in Big Ten play, posting a 4.85 ERA without a decision.
Iowa is led by Marla Looper, who is in her fourth season at Iowa. Looper owns a 94-94 record at Iowa and as a collegiate head coach. She is 3-3 against Nebraska.
Husker History vs. Iowa
The all-time series between Iowa and Nebraska is tied at 11-11. The teams have split the first six meetings as Big Ten Conference foes, with Iowa winning the series in 2012 and the Huskers winning the series last season. Each of the first two Big Ten series have been played in Iowa City. Nebraska owns a 3-2 edge in Lincoln, but the Hawkeyes have won two of the last three meetings at Bowlin Stadium, with each matchup coming in an NCAA regional. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 8-8 in her career against Iowa, including a 3-3 mark against Hawkeye Head Coach Marla Looper.
Nebraska won two of the three games in Iowa City last season. The Hawkeyes scored five runs in the first two innings en route to winning the opener 6-2. Nebraska bounced back with an 11-1 run-rule victory the next day. The Huskers pounded out 17 hits and scored in each of the first four innings. Every Husker who earned an at bat produced a hit, while eight players drove in a run. In game three, Nebraska led 2-0 before Megan Blank tied the game with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Huskers then used a pair of Hawkeye errors to grab a 3-2 lead before working out of a two-on, one-out jam in the bottom of the seventh to earn the win.
The information below provides a quick look at a few brief notes heading into Nebraska’s three-game conference series with Iowa this weekend at Bowlin Stadium.
- 61 of the 115 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored with two outs (53 percent).
- Eight of the 12 teams to beat NU this season are ranked in the top 25 this week, including six top-10 teams.
- The Huskers are 23-1 this season when scoring first.
- Nebraska is 13-1 when recording 10 hits this season.
- The Huskers are 16-0 when scoring at least five runs this year, but are 0-9 when allowing five or more runs.
- Armstrong has six doubles in her last eight games after recording only one double in her first 32 games.
- Armstrong has five multi-hit efforts in the last eight games, after totaling just four in the first 32 games.
- Hailey Decker has homered in four of her last 10 games and five of her last 12 games.
- Decker owns seven multi-RBI performances in her last 17 games.
- Decker has produced nine extra-base hits in her last 11 games, including four doubles and five homers.
- Decker has recorded four multi-hit efforts in the last seven games and five such efforts in the last nine games.
- Decker owns 20 hits, 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs over her last 17 games.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game 10 times in their careers, including once this season.
- Tatum Edwards has produced 15 hits in her last 14 games after totaling 15 hits in her first 24 games.
- Tatum owns 12 RBIs in her last 14 games after producing just nine RBIs through her first 24 games.
- Taylor Edwards needs one hit to become the ninth Husker to record 200 career hits.
- Taylor is one home run from passing Jennifer Lizama for second on NU’s all-time home run chart (48).
- In her career, Taylor Edwards own 199 hits, 182 RBIs and 154 runs. She has joined Ali Viola as the only players in school history to produce 150 career hits, RBIs and runs.
- MJ Knighten owns 10 RBIs over her last 13 games, after totaling nine RBIs in her first 24 games.
- Knighten has produced five multi-RBI efforts in the last eight games, after totaling four in her first 32 games.
A Look at the Big Ten Conference Race
As the halfway point of the conference season approaches, Michigan sits atop the Big Ten standings with a perfect 9-0 record. Minnesota is second with an 8-2 mark in league play, while Purdue sits in third place with a 7-2 record. Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State are in a three-way tie for fourth place with 5-4 records, while Iowa is seventh (5-6), Wisconsin is eighth (3-5), Penn State is ninth (3-6), Indiana is 10th (3-8), Illinois is 11th (2-7) and Michigan State is 12th (2-9).
While already in a position to earn one of four byes for the Big Ten Tournament, Nebraska has a chance to move up the conference standings as the Huskers have statistically faced the toughest portion of their conference schedule. Nebraska and Illinois are the only two Big Ten teams who have faced two ranked opponents through the first three weekends of conference play, while Nebraska has played as many conference games on the road as any other team. Next weekend’s home series with Ohio State marks Nebraska’s only three games of its remaining 14 league contests against an opponent currently in the upper half of the league standings or with a winning Big Ten record. Looking at the top of the standings, Michigan avoided ranked foes Nebraska and Northwestern, while Minnesota faces No. 23 Northwestern this weekend before traveling to No. 4 Michigan next weekend. Purdue has opened its conference schedule against the bottom three teams in the league schedule, although the Boilermakers do not face Nebraska or Northwestern and play only a doubleheader against Michigan.
World’s Largest Softball Tailgate Set for Saturday, April 19
Nebraska will host its third World’s Largest Softball Tailgate on Saturday, April 19 at Bowlin Stadium. The completely free event begins at 10 a.m. and includes one free hot dog, Pepsi product and bag of chips for the first 2,000 fans and free admission to the Huskers’ 1 p.m. game with Ohio State.
The tailgate begins at 10 a.m. in the parking lot beyond the left field fence of Bowlin Stadium. In addition to the free food to the first 2,000 fans, several other fan-friendly activities are planned. Fans can watch Nebraska take batting practice on the field and watch the teams warm up before the game. Inflatable games, including a softball/baseball speed pitch, a basketball toss and an obstacle course, will be set up in the parking lot. Face painting, balloon artists and music will add to the festive atmosphere. Nate Rohr, the radio announcer for Nebraska softball, will host a pre-game show live from the tailgate.
Nebraska is attempting to break last year’s record of 1,840 fans. The Huskers are also hoping to drawn an attendance of 2,000 for the first time in program history.
Knighten Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week
Third baseman Marjani Knighten was named the Big Ten co-Freshman of the Week on Monday. The weekly accolade was the first of Knighten’s career, while she became the fourth Husker to be honored this season.
Knighten produced impressive statistics while leading Nebraska to a 3-1 record last week. Knighten hit safely in all four games to extend her career-long hitting streak to eight games. She batted .538 on the week with one double, one home runs, six RBIs and three runs scored. After going 1-for-3 in a win over Creighton, Knighten finished 6-for-10 in a three-game series at Illinois. She produced at least one hit, one run and one RBI in all three games, including a pair of multi-hit efforts and three multi-RBI performances. Knighten hit a two-run homer in the opener, tied her career high with three hits in game two and had a pair of run-scoring singles in the finale.