Two of the nation’s hottest teams square off Wednesday, when the 19th-ranked Nebraska softball team travels to Madison, Wis., for a Big Ten doubleheader with the Wisconsin Badgers.
In a change from the original schedule, the threat of inclement weather has pushed the start time for the doubleheader up to 1 p.m. Both games will still be televised live on BTN.
The Huskers bring a 36-13 record into the doubleheader thanks to a 10-game win streak. The Badgers own a 30-15 record and are riding a school-record 13-game win streak. Nebraska and Wisconsin are among seven teams nationally with a double-digit win streak, as the Badgers’ 13-game streak is the nation’s third-longest win streak, while the Huskers’ 10-game win streak ranks seventh nationally.
Nebraska has been downright dominant during its 10-game win streak, outscoring its opponents 82-4. The Huskers have posted seven shutouts in the 10 victories, while boasting an average margin of victory of nearly eight runs per game, including six run-rule wins. Only two wins during the streak have come by fewer than four runs.
UW has outscored its opponents 88-38 during its 13-game winning streak. Although the Badgers are winning by an average of five runs per game, nine of the 13 wins have been decided by three-or-fewer runs, including five one-run victories.
The win streaks have helped both Nebraska and Wisconsin climb the Big Ten standings heading into the final week of conference play. NU has won 11 consecutive Big Ten games, its longest conference win streak in a decade. The Huskers’ 11-game conference win streak ranks fifth nationally, while Wisconsin owns the nation’s eighth-longest conference win streak with nine consecutive Big Ten victories.
Nebraska was 3-4 and in sixth place in the league standings on April 5 when it began its Big Ten win streak. The 11 consecutive conference victories have vaulted the Huskers to second place in the conference. UW was 3-5 in the conference on April 6 before beginning its nine-game conference winning streak, which has boosted the Badgers from eighth place to fourth place in the Big Ten standings.
Both Nebraska and Wisconsin are looking to cap a terrific month on the final day of April. The Huskers (13-2) and Badgers (14-1) are a combined 27-3 this month, including a 19-2 record in Big Ten play.
NU has been excellent at the plate and in the circle this month. The Huskers are batting .358 in April, while averaging 7.6 runs per game. During the 10-game winning streak, those numbers balloon to a .369 average and a scoring average of 8.2 runs per game. In the circle, Nebraska has tossed five consecutive shutouts, its longest shutout streak since 2008. The Huskers bring a 35.2 scoreless innings streak into Wednesday’s doubleheader, while NU owns a 0.34 ERA during its 10-game win streak.
Scouting the Wisconsin Badgers (30-15 Overall, 12-5 Big Ten)
Wisconsin owns the nation’s third-longest winning streak, as the Badgers have won 13 straight games since losing game two of an April 6 doubleheader at No. 12 Minnesota. The 13-game win streak is the longest in school history and has helped Wisconsin post a 14-1 record this month. The Badgers have also rallied from losing their first two Big Ten series. Wisconsin has won 10 of its last 11 conference games, including nine straight. UW sits in fourth place in the Big Ten standings with a 12-5 league record.
Wisconsin is batting .281 this season, while averaging 4.7 runs per game. In conference play, the Badgers are hitting .278 and averaging 4.3 runs per game. UW has stolen 100 bases this season, a total that leads the Big Ten and ranks eighth nationally. Wisconsin has only been thrown out 22 times in 122 attempts.
The Badgers boast two of the Big Ten’s best hitters in Mary Massei and Michelle Mueller. Mueller is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week after going 5-for-7 with a homer and four RBIs in Wisconsin’s sweep of Purdue last weekend. On the season, Mueller owns a .373 average with 10 doubles, 11 homers and 49 RBIs. She is one of only two Big Ten players who have produced 10 doubles and 10 homers this season. Mueller’s 49 RBIs have tied the Wisconsin single-season record and rank second among all Big Ten players in 2014. Mueller also ranks third in the league in home runs. Massei paces the Badger offense with a .397 average that includes a team-high 14 doubles. She has also added eight homers and produced 31 RBIs. Her .397 average ranks fifth in the league. Massei is batting .414 in conference play with 13 RBIs. Maria Van Abel is the third Badger batting better than .300 this spring, as she owns a .301 average. Van Abel has also stolen a team-high 21 bases in only 22 attempts. Chloe Miller and Stephanie Peace have each slugged eight home runs this year, while Peace is batting .302 in Big Ten play. Peace (14), Ashley Van Zeeland (15) and Marissa Mersch (16) all rank among the Big Ten’s top seven base stealers this spring.
In the circle, Wisconsin owns a 2.76 ERA, and the Badgers allow an average of 3.2 runs per game. UW has been better in league play, posting a 2.62 ERA in conference-only games. Wisconsin is fielding at a .958 clip this spring, including a .971 fielding percentage in league play that ranks second in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin has relied almost exclusively on the tandem of Cassandra Darrah and Taylor-Paige Stewart. The two have thrown all but 1.2 innings for the Badgers this season, including every inning in Big Ten play. Darrah is 18-10 with a 2.81 ERA in a team-high 172.0 innings. She has struck out 113 batters, but has walked 76, hit 25 and allowed 14 home runs. Darrah is 7-4 with a 2.93 ERA in Big Ten play. Stewart is 12-5 with a 2.73 ERA in 118.0 innings. Opponents are hitting only .221 against her, and she has struck out 110 batters. Stewart is 5-1 in conference play with a 2.08 ERA. Sara Novak (0-0, 0.00 ERA in 1.2 IP) rounds out the Wisconsin staff.
Wisconsin is led by third-year head coach Yvette Healy, who owns a 138-70 record at Wisconsin and a 369-242-1 record in 10 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Husker History vs. Wisconsin
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Wisconsin 10-2, including a 4-2 edge in Big Ten Conference play, as the Huskers have won the season series, 2-1, in each of the past two years. Each of the first six matchups have been played in Lincoln, as Nebraska will play its first games ever in the state of Wisconsin on Wednesday.
Nebraska posted a 4-0 victory in game one of last year’s series and an 11-2 run-rule win in game three, but Wisconsin avoided a sweep with a four-run sixth inning to rally for a 5-2 victory in game two. Tatum Edwards earned the two victories, including one shutout. In three career starts against Wisconsin, Edwards is 3-0 with a 1.11 ERA in 19.0 innings. Wisconsin is just 7-for-66 (.106) against Edwards when she is the starting pitcher. Wisconsin’s Cassandra Darrah is 2-2 in her career against Nebraska with a 3.18 ERA in 22.0 innings.
Offensively, Alicia Armstrong was 6-for-10 against the Badgers last season with four RBIs, while Taylor Edwards was 4-for-8 with a double, a homer and four RBIs.
Below is a look at brief team notes and statistics of interest heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader.
- Nebraska is 13-2 this month, and the Huskers have outscored their opponents 114-27.
- NU has scored 149 runs since changing its lineup 19 games ago (averaging 7.8 runs per game).
- Nebraska takes a 35.2-inning scoreless streak into Wednesday’s doubleheader.
- NU has not given up a run since a one-out RBI double in the top of the first inning vs. Ohio State on April 18.
- That run marked the last time Nebraska has trailed in a game (NU has been behind only twice in its win streak).
- The Huskers have posted five consecutive shutouts and seven overall during their 10-game win streak.
- Nebraska leads the Big Ten with 166 walks this season.
- NU leads the league in doubles (40), home runs (27) and slugging percentage (.599) in conference-only games.
- 62 of the 119 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored with two outs (52 percent).
- The Huskers are 30-1 this season when scoring first.
- Nebraska is 18-1 when recording 10 hits this season.
- The Huskers are 24-0 when scoring at least five runs this year, but are 0-9 when allowing five or more runs.
- Despite its 13-2 record this month, NU has dropped from No. 7 in the March 30 NCAA RPI to No. 19 this week.
- NU boasts the nation’s 17th-toughest schedule overall and the No. 3 most difficult non-conference schedule.
Below is a look at brief individual notes and statistics of interest heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader.
- Alicia Armstrong (.407), Hailey Decker (.419) and Tatum Edwards (.414) are all hitting above .400 in Big Ten play.
- Hailey Decker leads the Big Ten with 17 doubles this season, a total that ranks eighth nationally.
- Decker is also tied for the Big Ten lead with 25 extra-base hits this spring (17 doubles, 8 home runs).
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game 12 times in their careers, including three times this season.
- The Edwards twins have combined for more home runs in league play (14) than seven of the other 11 Big Ten teams.
- Tatum owns 65 career wins and 43 career home runs, as she is the nation’s only player with 60 wins and 40 homers.
- Tatum leads the Big Ten in homers (8), RBIs (28), total bases (53) and slugging (.914) in conference-only games.
- In conference-only games, Tatum has produce the eight-most home runs and ninth-most RBIs in Big Ten history.
- Tatum recorded her 500th career strikeout in her start at Michigan State last Sunday.
- Taylor Edwards leads the Big Ten with 15 home runs, a total that ranks 18th nationally.
- Taylor ranks among the nation’s top 50 players in on-base percentage (29th), runs per game (31st) and slugging percentage (47th).
- Taylor has walked 33 times this season, becoming the first Husker to post four 30-walk seasons.
- Taylor has driven in 34 runs this season, becoming only the second Husker to post four 30-RBI seasons.
- Taylor has totaled 51 career homers and 40 career doubles. She is only the second Husker and just the 12th player in Big Ten history to become a member of the 40/40 club (40 career doubles and 40 career homers).
Below are highlights of select Huskers who are enjoying a recent stretch of strong play.
- Alicia Armstrong is 22-for-52 (.423) over her last 16 games in the batting order with nine doubles and 16 RBIs.
- Hailey Decker is 11-for-23 (.478) with four doubles, two homers, eight RBIs and 10 runs over her last eight games.
- Decker has recorded 10 multi-hit efforts and seven multi-RBI performances over her last 21 games.
- Tatum Edwards has homered in five of her last nine games and has 10 homers in her last 23 games.
- Tatum has produced 28 hits in her last 23 games after totaling 15 hits in her first 24 games.
- Tatum owns 34 RBIs in her last 23 games after producing just nine RBIs through her first 24 games.
- Tatum has produced an RBI in eight of the last nine games, totaling 22 RBIs in that stretch.
- Tatum has produced a multi-RBI effort in five of her last nine games.
- Tatum is 5-0 in her last five starts with three straight shutouts and a 0.47 ERA in 30.0 innings.
- Taylor Edwards has homered in four of her last eight games.
- MJ Knighten has produced six multi-hit efforts in her last 13 games.
- Knighten owns 16 RBIs over her last 17 games, after totaling 14 RBIs in her first 32 games.
- Knighten has produced six multi-RBI efforts in the last 17 games, after totaling four in her first 32 games.
- Emily Lockman is 6-0 in her last six starts with a 0.85 ERA in 33.0 innings.
- Lockman is 5-0 in her last five starts with a 0.25 ERA in 28.0 innings, including a streak of three straight shutouts.
- Lockman has won seven straight decisions, posting a 0.81 ERA in 43.0 innings during the streak.
- Kylee Muir has produced four multi-hit efforts in her last 10 games, after totaling one in her first 31 games.
- Austen Urness is 4-for-12 with two doubles and five RBIs following a 16-game absence due to a concussion.
What to Watch for This Week
Below is a look at some potential noteworthy accomplishments that could be reached this week.
- A win in game one Wednesday would give NU the second-longest conference win streak in school history (12).
- Hailey Decker enters Wednesday’s doubleheader with 99 career hits.
- Taylor Edwards (51 homers) needs two home runs to tie Ali Viola’s career record of 53 home runs.
- Taylor needs one run to become the ninth Husker to score 50 runs in a season.
- Taylor’s next home run would make her the first Husker to produce two seasons with more than 15 homers.
- Taylor needs seven RBIs to become the second Husker and sixth Big Ten player to produce 200 career RBIs.
Huskers Riding 10-Game Win Streak & 11-Game Conference Win Streak
Nebraska has won 10 consecutive games, its longest winning streak since 2011, and the Huskers have won 11 consecutive conference games, the program’s longest streak since 12 consecutive victories to open the 2004 Big 12 Conference schedule. During the 10-game overall win streak, Nebraska has outscored its opponents 82-4. In the 11-game conference win streak, NU has outscored its opponents 99-11.
The 10-game overall winning streak ranks as the nation’s seventh-longest active streak, while the 11-game conference win streak ranks as the fifth-longest active streak in the country. NU has posted a double-digit winning streak for the 17th time in school history. The Huskers have posted a double-digit conference winning streak for just the fourth time in program history. The current 11-game Big Ten winning streak ties for the third-longest in school history with the 1985 team, which won 11 consecutive Big Eight games. The longest conference winning streak in school history was 16 consecutive Big 12 victories in 1998, followed by 12 straight wins in 2004.
Huskers Nearly Pitch Perfect
The Husker pitching staff has been dominant during Nebraska’s 10-game winning streak, posting a microscopic 0.34 ERA during the streak. The staff has thrown five consecutive shutouts and has held the opponent scoreless seven times during the 10-game win streak. The five consecutive shutouts are a first for Nebraska since 2008, and the Huskers currently own the fourth-longest shutout streak in school history.
NU brings a 35.2-inning scoreless streak into Wednesday’s doubleheader. The scoreless innings streak stretches back six games to the first inning of the series opener against Ohio State on April 18. Since that last run allowed, opponents have had 36 turns at bat and are hitting just .153 against Husker pitching with zero extra-base hits in 118 at bats. Nebraska has allowed only four base runners to reach third base during the scoreless inning streak.
Senior right-hander Tatum Edwards is 5-0 during NU’s win streak with three shutouts and a 0.42 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .167 against her during that stretch, and she has struck out 34 batters in 33.0 innings. Edwards has tossed three consecutive shutouts, as she owns a personal scoreless streak of 22.2 innings. Opponents are just 13-for-75 (.173) against Edwards during her scoreless innings streak.
Sophomore right-hander Emily Lockman is also 5-0 during Nebraska’s 10-game winning streak. Like Edwards, Lockman has fired three consecutive shutouts, and she owns a 0.25 ERA during the Husker win streak, allowing only one earned run in 28.0 innings. Opponents are hitting just .138 against her during the winning streak, collecting only 13 hits in 94 at bats. Lockman brings a 20.1-inning scoreless streak into Wednesday’s doubleheader. Since allowing a home run to Iowa in the fourth inning of an April 11 victory, Lockman has not only not allowed another run, she has not allowed a single base runner to reach third base. Opponents are hitting a paltry .136 (9-for-66) against Lockman during her scoreless innings streak.
In addition to her contributions during Nebraska’s 10-game winning streak, Lockman owns a personal seven-game winning streak. She has not lost since her worst statistical outing this spring against No. 16 Minnesota on March 23. Her win streak began with a victory at No. 23 Northwestern on March 30 and since then, Lockman is 7-0 with a 0.81 ERA in 43.0 innings.