The Nebraska softball team travels to Houston this weekend for five games in three days at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. The Huskers will face Houston and Army on Friday, before taking on Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State on Saturday. NU faces Sam Houston State for a second time on Sunday.
Nate Rohr will call every game for a free radio broadcast on Huskers.com. A live video stream of Friday’s game with Houston will also be available to subscribers of Houston All-Access.
Nebraska moved up to No. 8 in the USA Softball/ESPN.com top-25 poll following a 3-1 opening weekend. The Huskers opened their 2014 season with a 7-0 shutout of UTEP, before rallying for a dramatic 4-3 victory over No. 12 Florida State. Nebraska made it three straight wins with an 11-0 run-rule victory against New Mexico State, before falling in a rematch with the Seminoles. On the weekend, the Huskers outscored their opponents 23-8 with six of the opponent’s eight runs scoring with two outs.
Leading the way for the Husker offense was senior Taylor Edwards, who batted .538 with two doubles and two RBIs last weekend. Sophomore Hailey Decker adjusted well to the cleanup spot, going 6-for-14 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs in the opening weekend. Classmate Kiki Stokes fared well in her return to the leadoff spot, producing six hits in four games with a homer, three RBIs, two walks and two stolen bases. Freshman MJ Knighten had an outstanding debut weekend, starting all four games at third base and hitting .400 with a pair of doubles. Making the first position start of her career, fifth-year junior Kylee Muir homered and produced a team-high five RBIs last weekend.
In the circle, the Huskers shut out two of their four opponents while allowing only 2.0 runs per game. Senior Tatum Edwards, the 2013 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and a second-team All-American, posted a 2-0 record with a 1.75 ERA. She tossed a four-hit shutout against New Mexico State and fired a five-hitter in a complete-game victory against No. 12 Florida State. Edwards walked only three batters last weekend and allowed just nine hits. Sophomore Emily Lockman threw a three-hit shutout in the season opener against UTEP before surrendering five two-out runs in a complete-game loss to Florida State.
After playing two games against a ranked Florida State team last weekend, the Huskers will not face a ranked foe this weekend. However, two of Nebraska’s five games this weekend will come against teams that made the 2013 NCAA Softball Tournament, as Houston and Army both advanced to the Austin (Texas) Regional last season.
Scouting the Houston Cougars (0-0)
Houston finished 41-20 in 2013 and joined fellow Friday opponent Army in the NCAA Austin (Texas) Regional. Houston must replace four starters and its 2013 ace, but plenty of talent also returns for the Cougars, who have captured a pair of NCAA Regional titles in the past six seasons.
Houston slugged 42 home runs, averaged five runs per game and batted .292 as a team last spring. The Cougars’ top hitter, Katie St. Pierre, returns after batting .376 with 15 stolen bases in 2013. All-America catcher Haley Outon, one of 50 players named to USA Softball’s 2014 Player-of-the-Year Watch List, is Houston’s top slugger. She produced 15 doubles, 16 home runs and 62 RBIs in 2013 to go along with a .351 average. Kayla Holland also returns for the Cougars after batting .313 with 13 doubles, four homers and 24 RBIs last spring. The biggest lost for the UH offense is Holly Anderson, who hit .365 with 16 doubles, 12 homers and 53 RBIs in 2013.
In the circle, ace Bailey Watts must be replaced after she appeared in more than half of the Cougars’ 61 games last season. Watts posted a 19-6 record with a 2.23 ERA in 172.1 innings last spring. Diedre Outon, Haley’s twin sister, saw plenty of action behind Watts last season. Diedre was 13-8 with a 2.76 ERA in 119.1 innings. Summer Groholski (6-4, 2.89 ERA in 72.2 IP) and Julana Shrum (3-2, 3.73 ERA in 35.2 IP) also return to the Houston staff this season.
Nebraska and Houston will meet for the fifth time on Friday, and the all-time series is tied 2-2. Nebraska posted a 2-0 victory over the Cougars at Texas A&M in 2012, but Houston has won the past two matchups in Houston, with both victories coming in 2005. NU’s lone win in Houston came in 2004 when Peaches James threw a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory.
Scouting the Army Black Knights (0-0)
Army opens its 2014 season on Friday, facing Stephen F. Austin before taking on the Huskers. Last season, Army finished with a 35-26 record and captured the Patriot League Tournament championship, earning an automatic berth to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Black Knights fell to Texas and Houston in the Austin Regional. Army’s matchup against No. 8 Nebraska will mark the first time the Black Knights will face a ranked opponent in the regular season since a 12-0 five-inning loss to seventh-ranked Georgia on Feb. 10, 2012.
Army must replace four starters and its ace from 2013. The Black Knights hit .281 a year ago, averaging 4.0 runs per game. Army also boasted speed, stealing 81 bases. Amanda Nguyen returns after batting .381 with 40 stolen bases in 44 tries last season. Kasey McGravey is also back after hitting .324 with 12 doubles, five homers and 36 RBIs. Key losses for Army include Alex Reynolds, who hit .360 with team-high totals of 15 doubles and 45 RBIs in 2013, along with Christian McKone, who batted .326 with 16 stolen bases.
In the circle, Morgan Lashley was Army’s ace last season, finishing with a 29-14 record and a 2.40 ERA in 294.2 innings. Lashley appeared in 45 of Army’s 61 games, including 42 starts. With Lashley lost to graduation, Army has added three freshmen pitchers, along with returners Jewels Steurer and Braetana Roy. Roy saw the most action behind Lashley in 2013, posting a 4-10 record with a 3.46 ERA in 115.1 innings. Steurer was 1-2 with a 3.28 ERA last spring, but only threw 21.1 innings.
Nebraska and Army will meet for the first time on Friday.
Scouting the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks (0-3)
Stephen F. Austin is the lone Husker opponent at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic who opened its 2014 season last weekend. The Ladyjacks were winless in three games in San Marcos, Texas, last weekend, falling to Texas State (4-3), Southern Illinois (7-3) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-2). Stephen F. Austin posted a 16-32 record in 2013.
SFA hit .256 as a team last weekend and slugged two home runs in three games, but averaged fewer than three runs per contest. Brittany Lewis went 5-for-9 with a pair of doubles to pace the Ladyjack offense. Katelyn Standley finished 3-for-7 with a home run while Heather Hollingsworth and Shlie Dy were each 3-for-9. Day added a double and a home run and drove in five of Stephen F. Austin’s eight runs.
In the circle, the Ladyjacks used four pitchers in their three games. The staff posted a 5.60 ERA, as opponents hit .321 against them. Carlie Thomason saw the most action, earning two starts and posting an 0-2 record with a 3.11 ERA in 9.0 innings. Hannah Welch owned a 2.80 ERA in 5.0 innings, while Bailey Buchanan pitched a scoreless 0.2 innings of relief. Brittany Lewis allowed 10 runs in just 5.1 innings, as opponents produced 14 hits - including five doubles and two home runs - in only 28 at bats.
Nebraska is a perfect 5-0 all-time against Stephen F. Austin. The Ladyjacks have never scored more than one run against NU, while being outscored 24-3 all-time. The last matchup was a 9-0 Husker victory in 2012.
Scouting the Sam Houston State Bearkats (0-0)
Nebraska will face Sam Houston State and legendary coach Bob Brock twice this weekend. Brock, an NFCA Hall of Famer, begins his 13th season at his alma mater. With 1,047 coaching victories, Brock ranks ninth among all active NCAA Division I coaches in career wins. Brock has coached five teams to the Women’s College World Series, including NCAA national championships at Texas A&M in 1983 and 1987. Under Brock’s direction, the Bearkats finished 37-24 in 2013 and was one win away from the NCAA Tournament. SHSU returns all but three starters this season and brings back its entire pitching staff.
Offensively, the Bearkats hit .321 as a team in 2013, ranking 16th nationally in that category. Sam Houston State averaged 5.2 runs per game last spring and hit 70 doubles, eight triples and 59 homers. Five .300 hitters return for the Bearkats this spring, but Tori Benavidez is gone after leading the team with a .406 batting average and producing seven doubles, five triples, six homers, 34 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 2013. Tiffany Castillo is the top returning hitter after batting .380 with nine homers and 40 RBIs last spring. She was aggressive at the plate in 2013, walking only three times in 167 plate appearances. Alyssa Coggins is also back after hitting .354 last season. Hillary Adams batted .339 in 2013 with team-high totals of 13 homers and 60 RBIs. Jessica Slater (.328) and Cecilia Castillo (.306) also return after hitting better than .300 last season. Two other key losses from the Bearkat lineup include Kim Damian, who produced 11 home runs and 42 RBIs and Ashley Isbell, who hit .293 with 12 doubles and a team-high 18 walks.
In the circle, six pitchers saw action last season and all six return this spring. The Bearkats primarily relied on the trio of Shelby Lancaster, Haley Baros and Meme Quinn. Lancaster was 5-8 with a 2.98 ERA in a team-high 176.1 innings last season, but opponents hit .289 against her and totaled 52 extra-base hits, including 19 home runs. Baros finished 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 118.1 innings last season, but she gave up 17 home runs. Quinn also posted an 11-8 record with a 3.28 ERA in 109.0 innings last spring. Rounding out the Sam Houston State staff are Amber Neal (0-0, 1.45 ERA in 9.2 IP), Cecilia Castillo (0-0, 4.20 in 1.2 IP) and Dani Allen (0-0, 15.75 ERA in 1.1 IP).
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Sam Houston State, 6-2. The teams have not met since 1995, when Nebraska earned an 8-0 run-rule victory. NU won the first five meetings in the series.
Revelle Wins 800th Game at Nebraska, Joins Elite group
Nebraska Head Coach Rhonda Revelle opened her 22nd season at Nebraska with a 7-0 victory over UTEP on Friday, Feb. 7. The win marked Revelle’s 800th victory at Nebraska, as she became the first coach in any sport to win 800 games as a Husker. The victory also put Revelle in elite company among her softball peers, as she became the 15th active coach with 800 victories at his or her current school. The other 14 coaches on that list include: Arizona’s Mike Candrea (1,346), Michigan’s Carol Hutchins (1,305), DePaul’s Eugene Lenti (1,173), Cal’s Diane Ninemire (1,158), Central Michigan’s Margo Jonker (1,103), North Carolina’s Donna Papa (1,023), Oklahoma’s Patty Gasso (931), Illinois State’s Melinda Fischer (910), Hofstra’s Bill Edwards (894), Southern Illinois-Edwardsville’s Sandy Montgomery (884), Southeast Missouri’s Lana Richmond (859), Connecticut’s Karen Mullins (849), Hawaii’s Bob Coolen (846) and Canisius’ Mike Rappl (815).
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few brief notes heading into the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic this weekend.
- The Huskers are 165-91 (.645) all-time in the month of February.
- Nebraska has posted a winning month of February in 11 of the last 12 seasons, including an 11-4 mark in 2013.
- Seventeen of NU’s 61 games last season were decided in the final at bat. One of Nebraska’s four games this season has been decided in the final at bat.
- Nebraska won 10 games in its final at bat in 2013. The Huskers have won one game in their final at bat this spring.
- The Huskers lost seven games in the opponent’s final at bat in 2013, including each of their final four losses.
- Six of the eight runs Nebraska allowed last weekend were scored with two outs.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game nine times in their careers.
- Taylor Edwards needs four runs scored to move into 10th place on Nebraska’s all-time runs chart.
Muir Already Nearing Career High in RBIs
Junior Kylee Muir produced five RBIs in the opening weekend, highlighted by a three-run homer against New Mexico State. The homer gave Muir a career-high three RBIs and her five RBIs on the year are just one shy of her career high set last season. Overall, Muir entered this season with just eight career RBIs, a total she has nearly matched through just one weekend this spring. Muir’s RBIs have been limited as she has battled injuries in her career, missing two seasons. The NCAA granted Muir a sixth year of eligibility, and Muir has moved to the outfield where she earned the first four defensive starts of her career last weekend.
Freshmen Impressive in Debut Weekend
Each of Nebraska’s five freshmen made their career debuts last weekend, and each contributed to the Huskers’ 3-1 weekend. MJ Knighten started all four games at third base and committed just one error, while batting .400 with two doubles, two walks and two runs scored. Knighten went 2-for-2 with double, walk and stolen base in her career debut, while hitting safely in each of her first three games. Austen Urness earned three starts in right field and produced two hits, including a double, while scoring two runs. Rachel Arthur started the season opener at shortstop and produced a bases-loaded walk in her first plate appearance to drive in the first run of her career.
Off the bench, Lotte Sjulin and Kat Woolman each scored runs in a pinch-running role. Sjulin scored against New Mexico State, while Woolman scored runs against Florida State and New Mexico State, including the winning run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning against the 12th-ranked Seminoles.
Edwards and Lockman Each Post SHutouts in Opening Weekend
Nebraska shut out two of its four opponents last weekend, marking the first time since 2007 and just the second time in 11 seasons that the Huskers posted multiple shutouts in their opening weekend. Senior right-hander Tatum Edwards fired a four-hit shutout against New Mexico State, while sophomore right-hander Emily Lockman tossed a three-hit shutout against UTEP. The duo, each a 2013 first-team all-region selection, became the first pair of Husker teammates to record a shutout in the opening weekend since 1995, when Angela Blackwood tossed one shutout and Stacie Stafford posted two shutouts at the Texas-Arlington Tournament.