Pitching Highlights a Successful Fall for Huskers
Strong pitching was the highlight of the fall for the Nebraska softball team, which concluded its fall exhibition schedule with a 6-1 overall record, including a 5-1 mark against Division I opponents.
In its six games against Division I opponents, Nebraska posted a 0.77 team ERA while limiting opposing hitters to a .215 average. Husker pitchers struck out 34 and walked only 11 in 47.0 innings against Division I opponents, while limiting the opponents to 11 total runs.
Individually, senior right-hander Cassie McClure went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 18.2 innings against Division I opponents during the fall season. McClure tossed a shutout against Creighton and did not allow a run in three of her four appearances. Junior right-hander Caitlin Bartsch and junior left-hander Taylor Kadavy also posted perfect ERAs against Division I opponents, combining to toss 9.0 scoreless innings while allowing only four hits. Bartsch was 1-0 in 6.0 innings over three appearances against Division I opponents, while Kadavy tossed 3.0 scoreless innings of one-hit relief against Omaha in her lone fall appearance vs. a Division I opponent. Junior right-hander Kaylan Jablonski was 1-1 against Division I opponents with a 1.86 ERA in 19.1 innings. Jablonski struck out 15 and walked only two, and her lone loss came against Colorado State when she allowed only three earned runs in 8.1 innings.
The strong pitching helped Nebraska outscore its six Division I opponents by a 37-11 margin. Offensively, Nebraska hit .301 against Division I pitching in the fall while averaging more than six runs per game. The totals were impressive for a Husker offense that was without returning hitters Taylor Otte, Alyvia Simmons and Madi Unzicker. Otte and Simmons were held out of the fall season following offseason surgery, but both are expected to be ready for the spring season. Unzicker suffered a knee injury prior to Nebraska's first fall game and is expected to miss the 2017 season.
In addition to her excellent work in the circle, Jablonski also excelled at the plate. She was 11-for-23 against Division I pitching, posting a .478 average that included three doubles, one home run and six RBIs. Sophomore catcher Bri Cassidy also enjoyed a strong fall, posting a .385 average (5-for-13) with one double, two RBIs and five walks that helped her finish with a .556 on-base percentage. Senior All-American MJ Knighten batted .375 during the fall with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs, while junior Laura Barrow batted .357 (5-for-14) with four RBIs.
Several of Nebraska's freshmen also got their first taste of Division I pitching this fall. Lexey Kneib enjoyed the most success, posting a .375 average (6-for-16) with one double, one home run and three RBIs. Alexis Perry finished 5-for-16 (.313) against Division I pitching with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, while Bree Boruff was 2-for-4 at the plate.
Nebraska opened its fall season with a 7-6 win over Bellevue in its lone game against a non-Division I opponent. The Huskers then swept a doubleheader from South Dakota by a combined score of 13-2 before posting a 3-1 record at the Big Red Fall Classic. Nebraska opened its home tournament with a 4-0 win over Creighton, before defeating Omaha, 9-2. On the final day of the fall season, Nebraska suffered its lone loss to Colorado State (4-3) but quickly rebounded to post an 8-3 win over Omaha.
With the fall season complete, Nebraska turns its attention to the 2017 season, when the Huskers will look to make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season and for the 21st time in the last 23 seasons. Nebraska is scheduled to open its 2017 season at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Feb. 9-12. At that tournament, Nebraska is scheduled to face four 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, including defending national champion Oklahoma, national runner-up Auburn, a Washington squad that won an NCAA Regional title and a BYU team that was eliminated by Nebraska in the 2015 NCAA Columbia (Mo.) Regional.