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Nebraska looks to win its first Big Ten road series this weekend.
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
          Release: 04/19/2012
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Huskers Head to Ohio State in Key Big Ten Series

The Nebraska softball team seeks better results on the road this weekend, when the Huskers travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a three-game series with Ohio State. The teams play a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. (Central), with Sunday’s finale set for a 1 p.m. (Central) first pitch.

Sunday’s game will be available to subscribers of BTN.com, while Saturday’s doubleheader will feature live video to Buckeye All-Access subscribers. A free live radio broadcast of all three games will also be available worldwide on Huskers.com.

This weekend’s series is big for both Nebraska and Ohio State. The Huskers enter the weekend with a 27-16 overall record and an 8-4 record in league play. Nebraska is 6-0 in Big Ten play at home and just 2-4 on the road after losing two of three games at Iowa last weekend. The Huskers are tied for third in the conference standings and a series win this weekend would be huge for the conference race, as well as for Nebraska’s resume for a potential at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes enter the weekend series also trying to bolster their conference and NCAA standings. Ohio State is 26-16 on the year and 5-6 in Big Ten play. OSU has lost five consecutive conference games, after beginning Big Ten play with a 5-1 record. The Buckeyes are 9-4 at home this season, but were swept by league-leading Michigan in their last conference series at Buckeye Field.

Nebraska has been its own worst enemy on the road this season. In six Big Ten road games, the Huskers have struggled in the field and in the circle. Nebraska has committed 11 errors in its six conference road games, while allowing 10 unearned runs. In the circle, Nebraska owns a 5.74 ERA on the road in Big Ten play, and the Huskers have combined to walk and hit 50 batters in those six games.

In Nebraska’s two road wins, the Huskers have committed only three errors, allowed just one unearned run and walked nine. In NU’s four road losses, Nebraska has averaged more than seven runs per game, but has allowed more than eight runs per contest. The Huskers have averaged more than two errors per game, more than two unearned runs per game and more than nine free passes per game, when combining walks and hit batters.

The Huskers hope they found some consistency on the road this week with a 1-0, eight-inning win at UNO on Wednesday. Nebraska’s pitching and defense keyed that victory, as the Huskers held a road opponent to fewer than two runs for the first time this season. NU’s defense was flawless in the field, while senior right-hander Ashley Hagemann tossed a four-hit shutout with a season-high 17 strikeouts.

Scouting the Ohio State Buckeyes (26-16, 5-6 Big Ten)
Ohio State swept Ohio in a home doubleheader on Wednesday, as the Buckeyes enter this weekend’s series with a 26-16 overall record. OSU is 5-6 in Big Ten Conference play, and the Buckeyes have lost five straight conference games. Ohio State lost twice at Purdue last weekend and was swept at home by Michigan two weeks ago. The Wolverines are atop the league standings, while Purdue sits in second place. Ohio State and Nebraska do not share a common conference opponent yet this season, but the teams did face three common non-conference opponents in Colorado State, Idaho State and Oregon State. Both Nebraska and Ohio State posted a 2-1 record against that group, defeating CSU and ISU and losing to the Beavers.

Nebraska and Ohio State look very similar on paper. The Huskers rank second in the Big Ten with a .299 average and Ohio State is close behind with a .295 mark. The Huskers average 5.9 runs per game and the Buckeyes average 5.5 runs per contest. Defensively, Ohio State owns a .953 fielding percentage and a 3.07 ERA, while Nebraska boasts a .950 fielding percentage and a 2.98 ERA. Both teams are allowing 3.7 runs per game, and Nebraska’s .628 winning percentage is one-half game better than Ohio State’s .619 mark.

Offensively, Ohio State is led by Alicia Herron, one of the Big Ten’s best hitters. Herron leads the league with a .418 batting average, an .845 slugging percentage and a .576 on-base percentage. She is also bidding to win the Big Ten triple crown, as in addition to her league-leading average, Herron is tied for the Big Ten lead with 44 RBIs and 11 home runs. Herron is also tied for the Big Ten lead with 34 walks and four triples, and she has added six doubles and nine stolen bases in only 10 attempts. She has struggled defensively, committing 19 errors and fielding at an .897 clip. Behind Herron, Taylor Watkins is batting .377 with five doubles, one home run and 21 RBIs. Evelyn Carrillo is also enjoying an outstanding season, as she is batting .328 with six doubles, five home runs and 38 RBIs. She has walked just five times and struck out only eight times in 137 plate appearances this season. Vanessa Spears (.314), Katie Simonton (.313) and Danielle LeBeau (.301) round out the six Buckeyes who are hitting above .300 this season.

In the circle, Ohio State has utilized a five-pitcher staff this season, although the Buckeyes have primarily relied on Mikayla Endicott and Melanie Nichols. Endicott is 16-10 this season and she has started 23 of Ohio State’s 43 games and thrown nearly 60 percent of OSU’s total innings. She has added three saves and a 2.53 ERA in 163.0 innings. Opponents are hitting only .230 against Endicott, and she owns a nearly 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Nichols is 9-6 on the year with a 3.57 ERA in 84.1 innings. Opponents are hitting .314 against Nichols. Olivia O’Reilly (1-0, 2.03 ERA in 20.1 IP), Alex DiDomenico (0-0, 8.40 ERA in 5.0 IP) and Kasie Kelly (0-0, 16.33 ERA in 3.0 IP) round out the Buckeye staff.

Ohio State is coached by Linda Kalafatis, who is in her 16th season in Columbus. Kalafatis owns a 533-351 record heading into this weekend’s series, making her the winningest coach in Ohio State history by both winning percentage and total victories. The Buckeyes’ associate head coach is Ali Viola, a former Husker. Viola is in her seventh season at OSU. She was a three-time All-American at Nebraska from 1995 to 1998, and the Husker program announced it has plans to retire her No. 2 jersey in the near future.

Series History
The all-time series between Nebraska and Ohio State is tied, 3-3. The Huskers have won two straight in the series, including a 10-0, five-inning victory at last season’s Cathedral City Classic. Before that meeting, the programs hadn’t met since a 6-2 Husker victory in 1996. Five of the six all-time meetings have been at a neutral site, with the lone exception being a 3-2, eight-inning Ohio State victory in Columbus in 1982. Two of Ohio State’s three victories have come in extra innings. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 2-0 in her career against Ohio State, including a 1-0 record against Ohio State Head Coach Linda Kalafatis. Revelle was a junior first baseman and pitcher for the Huskers in 1982, when Nebraska made its lone trip to Columbus.

Quick Hitters
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes heading into this weekend.
  • Nebraska is 7-2 this month and owns an all-time record of 474-231 (.672) in the month of April.
  • The Huskers are 5-7 on the road this season, including 2-4 in Big Ten play. 
  • NU has allowed 157 runs through 43 games this season, after allowing 116 runs in 55 games last season.
  • The Huskers have committed 55 errors and allowed 41 unearned runs through 43 games this season. In 55 games last year, Nebraska committed 43 errors and allowed only 14 unearned runs. 
  • Twenty-six percent of the runs Nebraska has allowed have been unearned (41 of 157).
  • Nebraska is allowing an average of 1.0 unearned run per game.
  • Thirty-seven percent of the runners who have scored against Nebraska (58 of 157) 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 (87 of 157) reached base on a walk, HBP or error.
  • Nebraska is “giving” the opponent an average of 2.1 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 (241), than the opponent has earned its way on via a hit (222).
  • Between the walks, hit batters and errors, NU is “giving” the opponent an average of 5.6 base runners per game.
  • In its 16 losses, Nebraska has allowed 28 unearned runs (1.8 per game), walked and hit 105 (6.6 per game) and allowed a walk or hit batter to come around and score 41 times (2.6 per game).
  • Taking out any overlap from the totals above, errors and free passes are costing NU 3.8 runs per game in its losses.
  • The Huskers have scored 78 runs through their first 12 conference games this season, after scoring 59 total runs through their 18-game Big 12 schedule last season. 
  • Ashley Guile owns 99 career walks. Only three players in school history have walked 100 times.
  • Rhonda Revelle enters this weekend with 748 wins at Nebraska.
Hagemann Nears Nebraska’s All-Time Strikeout Record
Senior Ashley Hagemann enters this weekend with 928 strikeouts, good for third place in Husker history. Hagemann needs only nine strikeouts to pass Ashley DeBuhr for second place on that list, and she is just 18 strikeouts from passing Peaches James as Nebraska’s all-time strikeout leader. Hagemann has averaged more than 16 strikeouts per weekend in conference play, putting her within reach of the school record this weekend.

Hagemann has struck out 260 batters this season, the eighth-highest single-season total in school history. She is only 26 strikeouts away from moving into the top five, and Hagemann needs 40 more strikeouts to reach 300 strikeouts. Nebraska has had a pitcher strike out 300 batters in a season only four times in school history, including Hagemann’s 344 strikeouts last season, the second-highest total in school history. Hagemann is also looking to join DeBuhr as the only Huskers in school history with more than one 300-strikeout season.

A native of Elkhorn, Neb., Hagemann owns 11 double-digit strikeouts games this season and 26 in her career. She currently leads the Big Ten in strikeouts and ranks fourth nationally. Last season, Hagemann ranked eighth nationally in strikeouts. In addition to chasing the school record, Hagemann needs 72 strikeouts to become only the 11th Big Ten pitcher to record 1,000 strikeouts.

Huskers Hitting Well in Conference Play
Through four weekends of Big Ten play, the Husker hitters have put up impressive numbers. Although Nebraska is batting only .271 as a team in conference play, the Huskers rank second in the league with 78 runs scored, 70 RBIs and 59 walks, fifth with nine home runs and a .418 slugging percentage. Through 12 games, NU has already surpassed its totals from last season’s entire 18-game Big 12 schedule in several categories.

The Huskers scored 59 runs in 18 Big 12 games in 2011, and this year Nebraska has scored 78 runs through its first 12 Big Ten games. The Huskers have also doubled 17 times this season after totaling 12 doubles during last year’s conference slate. Nebraska’s 70 RBIs are also 12 more than last season’s conference total. The Huskers are hitting .059 points better in conference play this season than last, while improving their slugging percentage .053 points and their on-base percentage .011. Most importantly, Nebraska is averaging 6.5 runs per game in conference-only games this season, after averaging 3.3 runs per game in Big 12 play last season. The Huskers have scored at least five runs in 10 of their first 12 Big Ten games this season, after scoring five runs only four times in 18 Big 12 games a season ago.

Individually, several Huskers have eclipsed team highs from last year’s Big 12 schedule. No Husker had more than two doubles in Big 12 play in 2011, but this season, junior Gabby Banda (6) and sophomore twins Tatum (4) and Taylor (3) Edwards have eclipsed that total through the first 12 Big Ten Conference games. Taylor Edwards led Nebraska with 12 RBIs in conference play last season, but junior Brooke Thomason has already driven in 19 runs in conference play this spring and classmate Courtney Breault has 11 RBIs. Taylor Edwards also walked a team-leading 14 times in Big 12 games last season, and she has passed that total with 18 walks in 12 Big Ten games this year. Nebraska also failed to record a triple in any of its 18 Big 12 games last season, but seniors Madison Drake and Nikki Haget have each recorded a triple in a Big Ten game this season.
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