Fresh off an eight-game road trip, the Nebraska softball team returns home this weekend for a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday against Michigan State at Bowlin Stadium. In a change from the original schedule, first pitch is set for 1 p.m. on both days, and Sunday’s finale will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network.
Kevin Kugler and former Michigan All-American Jennie Ritter will call all of the action for BTN on Sunday. Additionally, veteran Husker softball play-by-play announcer Nate Rohr will have the call for all three games this weekend on Huskers.com, and Saturday’s game will be streamed live on HuskersNSide.
For those fans in attendance this weekend, several fan-friendly promotions will be happening at Bowlin Stadium. Saturday is Bark in the Park day, when fans are invited to bring their dogs to the ballpark. All vaccinated and leashed dogs will be admitted into the game for free when accompanied by a ticket-holding human. Dogs can sit in the grass berm general admission seating areas at Bowlin Stadium. Sunday is Pepsi Pack the Park day, and fans will receive $1 general admission tickets, as well as $1 24-ounce Pepsi Products. Senior Madison Drake, a Lincoln native, will also be recognized during the game as part of a Hometown Husker promotion.
Fans can purchase tickets for this weekend’s series online at Huskers.com, over the phone at 1-800-8-BIG-RED or at the Bowlin Stadium ticket office, located at the main entrance to the stadium, beginning 90 minutes to first pitch. Fans with a ticket to the Husker baseball game on Saturday or Sunday can present their ticket stub for $1 admission into that day’s softball game.
Nebraska brings a 29-18 overall record into play this weekend. The Huskers sit in fourth place in the Big Ten Conference standings with a 10-5 record in league play. Nebraska has a great chance to move up the standings this weekend against a Michigan State squad that is 12th in the conference with an 0-15 record in Big Ten play. Nebraska is 6-0 in conference play at Bowlin Stadium this season, and the Huskers have won 14 consecutive home games overall, the longest win streak in Bowlin Stadium history.
The Huskers are two games out of first place, but only one game out of second and just one-half game out of third. If NU can stay undefeated at home and keep the Spartans winless in conference play, it figures to move up in the standings as second-place Wisconsin plays at third-place Purdue this weekend, giving Nebraska a chance to move ahead of the team that loses that key series. Overall, aside from a season-ending home series with Wisconsin, two of NU’s final three Big Ten series are against teams in the bottom half of the conference standings.
Scouting the Michigan State Spartans (11-34, 0-15 Big Ten)
Michigan State has struggled this season, as the Spartans sit in last place in the Big Ten Conference with an 11-34 overall record and an 0-15 mark in conference play. In addition to a 16-game Big Ten losing streak that dates back to last season, Michigan State enters the weekend series on an 11-game losing streak, and the Spartans have lost 18 of their last 19 games. Nebraska and Michigan State share four common opponents this season in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State and Oregon State. NU posted a 6-4 record against that group, while the Spartans posted an 0-9 record.
MSU has been outscored by an average of 3.0 runs per game this season, including an average margin of loss of 4.6 runs in conference play. Five of the Spartans’ conference losses have been by two runs or less, while eight have been by six or more runs.
The Spartans rank 10th in the Big Ten in batting average (.250) and runs scored (163). Michigan State has homered only 14 times, but the Spartans have shown plenty of speed, ranking fifth in the conference in triples (6) and stolen bases (39). In conference-only games, MSU is hitting .228 and has averaged 2.3 runs per game.
Individually, Kylene Hopkins is enjoying an outstanding year. Hopkins ranks third in the league with a .403 batting average, fifth with 52 hits and 12 doubles, sixth with two triples and seventh with a .483 on-base percentage. She also leads Michigan State with nine stolen bases, 19 walks, 20 RBIs and seven sacrifices. Behind Hopkins, Lori Padilla is batting .336 on the season. Padilla leads the team with 28 runs scored. Stephanie Sanders is the top power threat, as she leads the team with a .538 slugging percentage. She has hit four of Michigan State’s 14 home runs to complement a .277 batting average. Sarah Bowling has been MSU’s top hitter in conference games, batting .474 with two doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs in only eight starts.
Defensively, Michigan State is allowing a league-high 6.6 runs per game. The Spartans’ 6.26 ERA is the highest in the Big Ten and is the only mark above 5.00. The Spartans have also walked more batters than they have struck out (149 to 131), while giving up league-high totals of 55 doubles, 49 home runs and 53 hit batters. Opponents are hitting .353 against the Spartans. In Big Ten play, opponents are hitting .364 against Michigan State while averaging 6.9 runs per contest.
Nebraska native Carly Nielsen and Cassee Layne have thrown the majority of the innings for MSU. Nielsen is 3-15 on the season with a team-best 5.72 ERA in a team-high 35 appearances and 111.1 innings pitched. She has added 49 strikeouts and 37 walks, while tallying three saves. Opponents are hitting .350 against Nielsen and 61 of the 170 hits she has allowed (36 percent) have gone for extra bases, including 27 home runs. Layne is 5-12 on the year with a 6.89 ERA in 108.2 innings. She has started a team-high 21 games and totaled 64 strikeouts, while walking 93. Opponents are hitting .341 against her and she has hit 31 batters. In Big Ten play, Nielsen is 0-7 with a 5.89 ERA and Layne is 0-5 with an 8.55 ERA. Shelby Wise (3-5, 6.30 ERA in 36.2 IP) and Rebecca Rogers (0-1, 7.72 ERA in 22.2 IP) round out the Spartan staff.
Michigan State is led by Jacquie Joseph, who is in her 19th season in East Lansing. Joseph owns a 552-521 record at Michigan State and a 688-654-1 record in her 25 years as a head coach.
Nebraska and Michigan State have met only twice on the softball diamond, with the Huskers winning both games to lead the all-time series, 2-0. Nebraska topped the Spartans 4-3 in nine innings in 1997 and earned a 5-2 win in 1994. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 2-0 in her career against Michigan State, including a 2-0 mark against MSU Head Coach Jacquie Joseph. Saturday’s doubleheader will mark the first home games for either team in series history, as each of the first two meetings were played at a neutral site.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes heading into this weekend.
- Nebraska is 9-4 this month and owns an all-time record of 476-233 (.672) in the month of April.
- Nebraska is 11-0 at home this season, and the Huskers’ 14-game home winning streak ranks fourth nationally.
- NU has allowed 167 runs through 47 games this season, after allowing 116 runs in 55 games last season.
- The Huskers have committed 59 errors and allowed 45 unearned runs through 47 games this season. In 55 games last year, Nebraska committed 43 errors and allowed only 14 unearned runs.
- Twenty-seven percent of the runs Nebraska has allowed have been unearned (45 of 167).
- Nebraska is allowing an average of 1.0 unearned run per game.
- Nebraska is 2-1 in televised games this season, including a 1-0 mark at home and a 1-1 record on BTN.
- Thirty-five percent of the runners who have scored against Nebraska (59 of 167) reached base by a walk or HBP.
- Overall, batters who have walked or been hit by a pitch score an average of 1.3 runs per game this season.
- Fifty-five percent of the runners who have scored against Nebraska (91 of 167) reached base on a walk, HBP or error.
- Nebraska is “giving” the opponent an average of 1.9 runs per game this season when combining unearned runs and runners who have scored after reaching base on a walk or hit-by-pitch.
- Nebraska has let the opponent reach base more this season on walks, hit batters and errors (252), than the opponent has earned its way on via a hit (243).
- Between the walks, hit batters and errors, NU is “giving” the opponent an average of 5.4 base runners per game.
- In its 18 losses, Nebraska has allowed 31 unearned runs (1.7 per game), walked and hit 112 (6.2 per game) and allowed a walk or hit batter to come around and score 42 times (2.3 per game).
- Taking out any overlap from the totals above, errors and free passes are costing NU 3.6 runs per game in its losses.
- The Huskers have scored 92 runs through their first 15 conference games this season, after scoring 59 total runs through their 18-game Big 12 schedule last season.
- Ashley Hagemann has averaged 5.7 strikeouts for every walk she has allowed in her last five appearances, after averaging 2.0 strikeouts for every walk she allowed in her first 37 appearances.
- With her next victory, Hagemann will pass pitching coach Lori Sippel for fifth place on NU’s all-time wins list.
- Hagemann also needs only three strikeouts to pass Sippel for fifth place on Nebraska’s single-season strikeout chart and for second place for the most strikeouts by a Husker senior.
- Taylor Edwards has walked 25 times over her last 19 games, including nine multiple-walk games.
- Ashley Guile drew the 100th walk of her career last weekend. She is one of four Huskers to reach that mark.
- Tatum Edwards enters this weekend with 99 career starts.
Hagemann Sets Nebraska’s All-Time Strikeout Record
Ashley Hagemann struck out eight Creighton Bluejays on Wednesday night, and her third strikeout of the game
made her Nebraska’s all-time strikeout leader. Hagemann enters this weekend’s series with 951 career strikeouts, six more than All-American Peaches James’ produced in her record-setting career. In addition to setting the school record, Hagemann needs 49 strikeouts to become the 11th Big Ten pitcher to record 1,000 strikeouts.
Hagemann has struck out 283 batters this season, the sixth-highest single-season total in school history and the third-best mark by a Husker senior. Hagemann needs only 17 more strikeouts to post her second straight 300-strikeout season, after striking out 344 batters as a junior, the second-highest total in school history. Hagemann is one of only three pitchers in school history to record a 300-strikeout season, and Ashley DeBuhr is the only pitcher to strike out 300 batters in back-to-back seasons.
Home Sweet Home
Nebraska is 11-0 at home this season, and NU has won 14 straight home games dating back to last season. The Huskers’ 11-game winning streak to open their home schedule is the second-longest in the 11-year history of Bowlin Stadium, trailing only an 13-0 start in 2006. NU’s current 14-game home winning streak marks the longest overall win streak in Bowlin Stadium history, eclipsing the 13-game streak in 2006.
While Nebraska’s offense has been solid at home, the Husker pitching staff has been stellar. Nebraska has allowed only 16 runs in its 11 home games this season, an average of 1.5 runs per game. The staff has thrown five shutouts at home and combined for a 1.07 ERA. Individually, sophomore right-hander Tatum Edwards is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in three home starts this season. Edwards has thrown one shutout and held opposing hitters to a .172 average while striking out 14 and walking only five in 17.0 innings. Senior right-hander Ashley Hagemann is 8-0 at Bowlin Stadium with a 1.27 ERA. She has thrown four shutouts in nine starts has held opponents to a paltry .120 average while tossing one no-hitter, two one-hitters and a pair of two-hitters. Hagemann has struck out 79 batters in only 55.0 innings at home, an average of 10.1 per seven innings.
Offensively, the junior duo of Gabby Banda and Brooke Thomason are the only two Huskers hitting above .333 at home this season. The duo have combined to hit .413 (26-for-63) at Bowlin Stadium this season with six doubles, three home runs and 20 RBIs. Banda leads NU with a .429 average, 15 hits and four doubles, while Thomason has paced NU with three home runs, 17 RBIs and a .786 slugging percentage, while hitting .393.