The 19th-ranked Nebraska softball team wraps up an eight-game homestand this weekend by welcoming the Ohio State Buckeyes to Bowlin Stadium for a three-game series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The teams will open the series on Friday at 6 p.m. but the highlight of the weekend is Saturday, when the Huskers host their third annual World’s Largest Softball Tailgate. The free tailgate begins at 10 a.m. in the parking lot beyond the left field fence and includes one free hot dog, one free Pepsi product and one free bag of chips to the first 2,000 fans. Tailgate activities will include balloon artists, face painters, inflatables and games. Fans will also have the chance to watch Nebraska take batting practice on the field and get autographs from the team. Not only is the tailgate a completely free event, but admission into the 1 p.m. game with Ohio State is also free. Season ticket holders will have their normal seats reserved for them but all other seating is general admission available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Nebraska is attempting to break the record of 1,752 fans who attended last year’s event. The Huskers are also hoping to draw 2,000 fans to the game with Ohio State, which would mark the largest crowd in school history. During the game, a free raffle drawing will be held every inning. Raffle tickets will be handed out to everyone attending the tailgate, but fans must be present at the game to win.
Following a fun-filled Saturday, the Huskers and Buckeyes wrap up their series at Noon on Sunday. An Easter egg hunt will take place throughout Bowlin Stadium prior to Sunday’s game. Although fans do not need to purchase a ticket for Saturday’s tailgate or game, fans will need a ticket for Friday and Sunday. 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 does include one section of chairback seats. Fans with a baseball ticket stub will receive $1 admission on Friday and Sunday.
Fans unable to make it out to Bowlin Stadium this weekend will be able to follow all of the action online. Nate Rohr will call a free radio broadcast of all three games for Huskers.com, while subscribers to the Big Ten Digital Network can watch a live video stream on Friday and Saturday.
Scouting the Ohio State Buckeyes (20-20 Overall, 6-6 Big Ten)
Like Nebraska, Ohio State has been off since last weekend, as the Buckeyes had a mid-week game with Wright State canceled due to inclement weather. OSU brings a 20-20 overall record into play this weekend, while the Buckeyes sit in a tie for sixth place in the Big Ten standings with a 6-6 league record. Nebraska and Ohio State have not faced a common conference opponent this season, but both teams lost to Fresno State in non-conference play.
The Buckeyes are 0-8 against ranked teams and have been outscored 67-6 in those games. Six of OSU’s eight games against ranked teams have come vs. top-10 opponents, including being swept in a three-game series by No. 5 Michigan two weeks ago. In game one of that series, Ohio State lost 1-0 in the only conference game the Wolverines have won by fewer than eight runs.
Ohio State boasts a solid offense that is hitting .286 as a team and averaging 4.8 runs per game. The Buckeyes are batting .326 in conference play while averaging 5.8 runs per game. That average jumps to 7.7 runs per game excluding the Michigan series, when OSU managed only one run in three games against a Wolverine staff that ranks eighth nationally in ERA. Ohio State has been an aggressive bunch at the plate, drawing only 105 walks in 40 games while striking out 169 times.
A quartet of Buckeyes are batting better than .300 this season. Evelyn Carrillo leads the way with a .368 average that includes seven doubles, four homers and a team-high 29 RBIs. Caitlin Conrad owns a .358 average with team-high totals of 12 doubles, three triples and six homers. Taylor Watkins is hitting .339 with seven doubles, two triples, four homers and team-high totals of 20 walks and five stolen bases. Cammi Prantl rounds out the .300 hitters with a .322 average that includes 11 doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs.
Defensively, Ohio State is allowing an average of 4.7 runs per game with a 3.63 ERA. The Buckeyes have been better in Big Ten play, posting a 3.56 ERA. Outside of the Michigan series, in which a Wolverine offense ranked fifth nationally in scoring totaled 20 runs, OSU is allowing 4.1 runs per game in conference play. The Buckeye defense has committed 53 errors this season. The errors have been costly as OSU has allowed 54 unearned runs.
Olivia O’Reilly is the staff ace, posting a 9-6 record with a team-low 2.51 ERA in a team-high 103.1 innings. Opponents are hitting only .220 against her. Shelby Hursh has seen the most action behind O’Reilly, compiling a 3-6 record with a 4.72 ERA in 56.1 innings. Hursh is averaging one strikeout per inning, but is also giving up an average of one walk per frame. Melanie Nichols has also seen extensive action, posting a 4-5 record with a 4.55 ERA in 47.2 innings. Alex DiDominico is 3-3 on the year with a 2.92 ERA in 36.0 innings. Audrey Plant (1-0, 9.24 ERA in 8.1 IP) and Kasie Kelly (0-0, 0.00 ERA in 2.2 IP) round out the Buckeye staff.
Ohio State is led by second-year head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly, who owns a 54-42 record at OSU and a 242-194-1 record in eight years as a collegiate head coach. Former Husker shortstop and volunteer coach Amanda Buchholz is in her second year as an Ohio State assistant coach.
Husker History vs. Ohio State
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 5-4, including a 2-1 advantage in Big Ten Conference play. The programs did not meet last year and Ohio State is making its first trip to Lincoln to face the Huskers, as Nebraska swept a doubleheader in Columbus in 2012 en route to winning the series, 2-1. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 4-1 in her career against Ohio State, but she has not faced second-year Buckeye Head Coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.
In the only meetings between the programs as conference foes in 2012, Nebraska won the first two games of the series before Ohio State won game three. In a doubleheader on day one of the series, Tatum Edwards homered twice and Taylor Edwards homered once as NU powered its way to an 11-2 victory in game one. In game two, Nebraska posted a 3-2 victory in eight innings, handing Revelle her 750th victory at Nebraska. After scoring 14 runs in the doubleheader, Nebraska was shut out in a 4-0 loss to the Buckeyes in game three.
The information below provides a quick look at a few brief notes heading into Nebraska’s three-game conference series with Ohio State this weekend at Bowlin Stadium.
- 62 of the 118 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored with two outs (53 percent).
- Nebraska has scored 103 runs since changing its lineup 13 games ago (averaging 7.9 runs per game).
- The Huskers are 25-1 this season when scoring first.
- Nebraska is 15-1 when recording 10 hits this season.
- The Huskers are 19-0 when scoring at least five runs this year, but are 0-9 when allowing five or more runs.
- Alicia Armstrong enters this weekend with 98 career hits.
- Hailey Decker is 21-for-53 (.396) over her last 15 games with five homers, six doubles, 17 runs and 18 RBIs.
- Decker has recorded eight multi-hit efforts and six multi-RBI performances over her last 15 games.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game 12 times in their careers.
- The twins have homered in the same game three times this season, including each of the past two games.
- Tatum Edwards has homered in three straight games and has eight homers in her last 17 games.
- Tatum has produced 20 hits in her last 17 games after totaling 15 hits in her first 24 games.
- Tatum owns 25 RBIs in her last 17 games after producing just nine RBIs through her first 24 games.
- Taylor Edwards needs one home run to join Ali Viola as the only Huskers to hit 50 career home runs.
- Taylor has homered in two straight games and three of her last five games.
- MJ Knighten has produced five multi-hit efforts in her last five games.
- Knighten owns 13 RBIs over her last 11 games, after totaling 14 RBIs in her first 32 games.
- Knighten has produced six multi-RBI efforts in the last 11 games, after totaling four in her first 32 games.
- Emily Lockman has allowed one earned run or less in seven of her last eight appearances dating back to March 28.
- During that time, Lockman is 5-0 with one save and a 1.15 ERA in 30.1 innings.
- Kylee Muir has produced three multi-hit efforts in her last four games, after totaling two in her first 31 games.
- Muir has hit safely in four straight games and eight of her last nine.
- Muir is batting 11-for-24 (.458) in nine games this month with four doubles, 11 runs, eight RBIs and six walks.
Husker Offense in Full Bloom This Month
Nebraska’s offense has been in full bloom the month of April, producing its best statistical month by far through the first nine games of April. The Huskers are hitting .351 as a team while averaging 7.6 runs per game this month. Compared to the first two months of the season, Nebraska is batting .077 higher, slugging .105 higher and reaching base at a clip .062 higher. Not surprisingly, the Huskers are 7-2 this month.
Several individuals have also enjoyed strong starts to April. Freshman MJ Knighten is 13-for-25 (.520) this month with eight RBIs, six walks and a .613 on-base percentage. Knighten was hitting .253 with a .349 on-base percentage over the first two months of the year. Junior Kylee Muir has seen a similar increase in production this month. After going 14-for-74 (.189) over the first two months of the season, Muir is 11-for-24 (.458) this month. Muir has also recorded four doubles and scored 11 runs in nine games this month, after totaling only one double and 10 runs over her 26 games in the first two months of the season.
Freshman Kat Woolman is hitting nearly .200 higher in April than she did in February and March. Woolman has posted a .435 average this month with 10 hits, after hitting .146 with six hits in 41 at bats over the first two months. Sophomore Dawna Tyson has bounced back from a 10-for-74 (.135) start in February and March to go 8-for-23 (.348) with three doubles this month. From a power standpoint, senior Tatum Edwards has seen her production increase, as she has homered four times and produced 16 RBIs in nine games this month after totaling five homers and 18 RBIs over her first 32 games.
Tatum Edwards Posts Big Weekend With the Bat
Senior Tatum Edwards hit four home runs in a three-game Big Ten Conference series with Iowa last weekend. She hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning of game one to power NU to a 5-2 victory. In game two, Edwards hit another three-run homer during Nebraska’s 9-2 run-rule win. In game three, Edwards produced her sixth career multi-homer game by slugging a grand slam in the second inning and a three-run homer in the fourth to help Nebraska post an 18-0 victory, its largest margin of victory in a conference game.
Edwards went 6-for-11 with four homers, six runs scored and 13 RBIs in the three games against Iowa. Fueled by the big weekend, Edwards now leads all Big Ten players in home runs (6) and RBIs (19) in conference play.
Sophomore Hailey Decker is the Big Ten leader with 15 doubles this spring. The 15 doubles are a career high and have tied Ashley Guile for the most doubles by a Husker sophomore. Overall, Decker’s 15 doubles this spring rank in a tie for fourth in school history. Decker’s next double would move her into a tie for third place on Nebraska’s single-season list, and she would become the first Husker to hit more than 15 doubles since 2003. Decker entered play this week ranked in a tie for 11th nationally with her 15 doubles.
Taylor Edwards Records 200th Hit, Nears Other Milestones
Senior Taylor Edwards went 3-for-8 last weekend in a three-game series against Iowa, hitting two home runs, producing five RBIs and scoring eight runs. She hit a grand slam in game two of an April 11 doubleheader, and the grand slam marked her 200th career hit. She is only the ninth Husker to produce 200 career hits.
Edwards is also nearing a pair of other milestones. She needs one home run to join three-time All-American Ali Viola as the only Huskers to hit 50 home runs. Edwards is also two doubles shy of totaling 40 doubles in her career, as she would join Viola as the only players in school history to produce 40 career doubles and 40 career home runs. Edwards has already joined Viola as the only Huskers to produce 150 career hits, RBIs and runs. A final milestone within Edwards’ reach is the 200-RBI mark, as she enters this weekend needing 13 RBIs to reach the mark. If she reaches 200 career RBIs, Edwards would join Viola as the only Huskers to drive in 200 runs.
On the conference level, Edwards is bidding to become only the sixth Big Ten player to total 200 career RBIs and just the 11th to hit 50 career home runs. Among all active Division I players nationally, Edwards entered this week ranked fourth with 187 career RBIs and sixth with 49 career home runs.
Urness Produces in Her Return to Action
It’s not often that a two-run single is the highlight of a 14-run inning, but that was the case last Saturday during Nebraska’s 14-run second inning against Iowa. With the Huskers leading 10-0, freshman Austen Urness came on to pinch hit with runners at second and third and delivered a two-run single. The hit was noteworthy because it marked Urness’ first return to action since suffering a concussion at Kansas on March 15. Urness had missed 16 consecutive games recovering from the injury and clearing all required medical tests before she could be cleared to play. Urness earned clearance to return to practice just five days before her pinch-hit single.
The return also marked Urness’ home debut at Bowlin Stadium. NU had yet to play a home game prior to Urness’ concussion, while a separate injury kept her out of all eight of the Huskers’ fall games at Bowlin Stadium. Urness is batting .323 this season with four doubles, one triple, one homer, 10 RBIs and a .452 on-base percentage.
Nebraska Sets School Records
Nebraska put together one of the most impressive offensive performances in school history in an 18-0 five-inning victory over Iowa last Saturday. The 18 runs were the most Nebraska has ever scored in a conference game and marked the third-most runs in any game in program history. The 18-run margin of victory was also the Huskers’ largest in a conference game and the fourth-largest overall in school history. Nebraska scored 14 of its 18 runs in the second inning, as the 14-run inning marked the highest-scoring inning in program history, according to available records.
Senior Taylor Edwards tied the school record with four runs scored in the win, while her twin sister Tatum homered twice and produced seven RBIs, one shy of the Nebraska record.
14-Run Frame Highlights 18-Run Outburst
Nebraska produced a 14-run second inning during its 18-0, five-inning victory over Iowa last Saturday. Based on available records, the 14-run inning ranks as the highest-scoring inning in school history. Nebraska has scored 14 runs in a game only 20 times in program history.
Nebraska sent 18 batters to the plate in the frame, with each of the first 11 hitters reaching base and every spot in the lineup scoring at least one run. NU totaled seven hits, three walks and two hit-by-pitches in the inning. Senior Tatum Edwards hit a grand slam for the biggest blast of the inning, while freshmen MJ Knighten and Austen Urness, sophomore Alicia Armstrong and junior Kylee Muir each produced two RBIs in the frame.
A Look at the Big Ten Conference Race
As the league enters the second half of conference play, Michigan sits atop the Big Ten standings with a perfect 12-0 record. Minnesota is second with a 10-3 mark in league play, while Purdue sits in third place with a 9-3 record. Nebraska is fourth in the league standings at 8-4, one-and-a-half games ahead of fifth-place Wisconsin (6-5). The top four seeds earn a bye for the Big Ten Tournament, May 8-11.
Nebraska faces an Ohio State squad that is tied for sixth in the conference with a 6-6 league record. The Huskers’ two remaining weekend series are against Indiana and Michigan State, which are a combined 6-22 in Big Ten play. Nebraska also travels to Wisconsin for a midweek doubleheader on April 30.
Knighten Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in Back-to-Back Weeks
Third baseman Marjani Knighten was named the Big Ten co-Freshman of the Week on April 7. The weekly accolade was the first of Knighten’s career, before she earned repeat honors on Monday.
Last week, Knighten went 6-for-12 in five games, producing four walks, three runs, two RBIs and one double. Knighten was 4-for-7 (.571) in a three-game weekend series with Iowa, posting a .700 on-base percentage and a pair of RBIs. She produced three multi-hit games last week, including two against Iowa.
Knighten hit safely in every game the week of April 1 en route to her first award. She batted .538 on the week with one double, one home run, 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 RBI singles in the finale.
Lockman Named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week For the Second Time
Sophomore Emily Lockman was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Monday, earning her second honor this year. She was also honored on Feb. 18, and Lockman was a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week in 2013.
Lockman went 3-0 last week with a 0.47 ERA. She allowed only six hits and one run in 15.0 innings, holding opposing hitters to a .118 average. Lockman opened her week with a combined shutout against Northern Iowa, before starting games two and three of the Huskers’ weekend series with Iowa. Lockman fired a one-hitter in her first start against Iowa, allowing only a solo home run. The right-hander then tossed a two-hit shutout in the series finale. She needed only 121 combined pitches to post her two complete-game victories over Iowa.
A native of Corona, Calif., Lockman won her first honor following an outstanding weekend at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic Feb. 14-16. She appeared in four of NU’s five games at the tournament, posting a 3-0 record with two shutouts and a 0.30 ERA. She allowed only one run in 23.0 innings and surrendered just eight hits, as opponents hit a paltry .103 against her. Lockman also struck out 24 batters in her 23.0 innings.
A Look at this Week’s Rankings and Big Ten Leaders
Nebraska remained at No. 19 in this week’s USA Softball/ESPN.com poll, while moving up two spots to No. 20 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches’ poll. The Huskers dropped three spots to No. 13 in the NCAA RPI.
Individually, senior Taylor Edwards leads the Big Ten in home runs (13) entering play this weekend, while sophomore Hailey Decker is the league leader in doubles (15). Taylor Edwards also leads the Big Ten in total bases (91) and hit-by-pitches (12), while Tatum Edwards is tied for the lead league in saves (4). In conference play, Nebraska leads the league with 26 doubles as a team. Tatum Edwards leads all Big Ten players with six homers, 19 RBIs in league games, while tying for the conference lead with one save.