Big Ten Race Tightens as Huskers Head to Indiana
The Nebraska softball team hits the road for the final time in the regular season, traveling to Indiana for a crucial three-game series on Saturday and Sunday. The Huskers are in the hunt for a Big Ten title with only six games remaining in the conference season.
Nebraska enters play this weekend tied for second in the Big Ten standings with a 31-18 overall record and a 12-5 mark in conference play. Both NU and Purdue sit one-half game behind league-leading Michigan, who is atop the standings with a 13-5 record since Nebraska (Michigan State) and Purdue (Ohio State) both lost a game to weather this season. In fourth place are Wisconsin and Iowa with 12-6 league records, just one game out of first. With five teams within one game of the conference lead, the final two weekends of Big Ten action will decide the league champion.
The Huskers’ path starts with the series at sixth-place Indiana this weekend, then wraps up next weekend when Nebraska hosts fourth-place Wisconsin at Bowlin Stadium. For Michigan, the Wolverines are at fourth-place Wisconsin this weekend, then host second-place Purdue the final weekend. Purdue travels to 11th-place Minnesota and league-leading Michigan the next two weekends, while Wisconsin hosts first-place Michigan and travels to second-place Nebraska. With four of the top five teams in the standings set to face each other in the final weekend, Iowa could move up the standings if it can win on the road at 10th-place Ohio State this weekend and at 11th-place Minnesota the following weekend.
A key to the conference race will be the ability of road teams to win conference series. Among the top five teams contending for the conference title, Iowa and Purdue have only road games remaining, while Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin each have one road series and one home series left. Michigan (7-3) and Wisconsin (5-4) are the only Big Ten teams with a winning road record in conference play this season, and they are the only two teams to win more than one road series. A road team has swept its home opponent only three times in 36 series and two of those sweeps have come against a Michigan State team that is winless in the league. Nebraska is 4-5 in Big Ten road games this season, and the Huskers’ four road wins rank in a tie for third in the league.
Fans can stay up to date on the conference race and follow all of the action from Indiana this weekend by listening to Nate Rohr call the games for free on Huskers.com. A live video feed of all three games will also be available to those who purchase an all-access subscription at IUHoosiers.com. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. (Central) on Saturday and Noon on Sunday.
Scouting the Indiana Hoosiers (24-25, 8-10 Big Ten)
Indiana enters this weekend’s series with a 24-25 overall record, and the Hoosiers sit in a tie for sixth place in the Big Ten Conference standings with an 8-10 record in league play. Indiana lost two of three games at Iowa last weekend, but the Hoosiers have been tough at home, winning each of their last two home series over Northwestern and Purdue. Indiana and Nebraska share five common opponents this season in Iowa, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Oregon State. The Huskers compiled an 8-4 record against that group, while Indiana went 4-7.
Indiana’s strength is its offense, which is averaging 4.3 runs per game while hitting .288 as a team with 31 home runs. In conference play, Indiana’s production has not dropped, as the Hoosiers are averaging 4.2 runs per game while batting .282 with 11 home runs in 18 games.
Individually, Amanda Wagner is one of four Hoosiers hitting above .300. She leads the team with a .360 average, 45 hits, nine home runs, 33 RBIs, 33 walks, a .640 slugging percentage and a .515 on-base percentage. Wagner ranks third in the Big Ten in on-base percentage, fourth in walks and fifth in slugging percentage and home runs. In Big Ten games only, Wagner leads the league with a .476 average, a .905 slugging percentage and a .651 on-base percentage. Behind Wagner, Shannon Cawley is batting .320 on the season with eight doubles, three home runs and 16 RBIs. Breanna Saucedo is hitting .319 after leading Indiana in hits the past two seasons, but Saucedo has not played since Indiana’s opening game of Big Ten play at Ohio State on March 24. Jenna Abraham rounds out the .300 hitters with a .312 average to go along with a team-high 32 runs scored, seven homers and 27 RBIs. From a power perspective, Cassie Gogreve (11) and Samantha Berenter (13) have each hit more than 10 doubles while producing 27 RBIs apiece.
In the circle, Indiana owns a 4.77 team ERA, and the Hoosiers are allowing an average of 5.1 runs per game. In conference play, Indiana is allowing 5.2 runs per game and boasts a 4.42 ERA. Lora Olson and Meaghan Murphy have been the Hoosiers’ top pitchers. Olson is 13-14 on the season with a 4.71 ERA in 153.0 innings. Opponents are hitting .316 against her and she has combined to walk or hit 74 batters, while striking out 85. Olson has also allowed 60 extra-base hits this season, including 24 home runs. In Big Ten play, Olson is 3-6 with a 4.74 ERA. Murphy is 11-11 on the year with a 4.91 ERA in a team-high 158.1 innings. Opponents are hitting .329 against her and have added 45 doubles, three triples and 22 home runs. She has thrown 20 wild pitches, hit 13 batters, walked 45 and struck out 84. In conference play, Murphy is 5-4 with a 4.36 ERA. Miranda Tamayo rounds out the Hoosier staff. She has made her only two appearances of the season in Big Ten play, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings of two-hit ball.
Indiana is coached by Michelle Gardner, who owns an 83-118 record in her four seasons as a Hoosier. In 10 years as a collegiate head coach, Gardner owns a 270-294 career record.
The all-time series between Nebraska and Indiana is tied 3-3, and the teams have only played twice since 1989. Indiana won the most recent meeting, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to upset the 15th-ranked Huskers, 2-1, in 2006. That win snapped Nebraska’s three-game win streak in the series, that included wins in 1987, 1988 and 1994. Indiana shut out Nebraska to win the first two meetings in 1983 and 1986. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 1-1 in her career against Indiana. Saturday’s doubleheader will mark the first home games for either team in series history.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes heading into this weekend.
- Nebraska is 166-110 (.601) all-time in the month of May.
- Nebraska is 13-0 at home this season, and the Huskers’ 16-game home winning streak ranks second nationally.
- Nebraska is 7-9 on the road this season, including a 4-5 mark in Big Ten games.
- NU has allowed 170 runs through 49 games this season, after allowing 116 runs in 55 games last season.
- The Huskers have committed 60 errors and allowed 45 unearned runs through 49 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 (45 of 170).
- Nebraska is allowing an average of 1.0 unearned run per game.
- Thirty-five percent of the runners who have scored against Nebraska (59 of 170) reached base by a walk or HBP.
- Overall, batters who have walked or been hit by a pitch score an average of 1.2 runs per game this season.
- Fifty-four percent of the runners who have scored against NU (91 of 170) 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 (260), than the opponent has earned its way on via a hit (256).
- Between the walks, hit batters and errors, NU is “giving” the opponent an average of 5.3 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 100 runs through their first 17 conference games this season, after scoring 59 total runs through their 18-game Big 12 schedule last season.
- Ashley Hagemann has averaged 5.3 strikeouts for every walk she has allowed in her last six appearances, after averaging 2.0 strikeouts for every walk she allowed in her first 37 appearances.
- With her win yesterday, Hagemann passed pitching coach Lori Sippel for fifth place on NU’s all-time wins list.
- Hagemann also passed 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 26 times over her last 21 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 made her 100th career start in Saturday’s second game.
Hagemann Sets Nebraska’s All-Time Strikeout Record
Ashley Hagemann struck out eight Creighton Bluejays on April 25, and her third strikeout of the game made her Nebraska’s all-time strikeout leader. Hagemann enters this weekend with 960 career strikeouts, 15 more than All-American Peaches James’ produced in her record-setting career. In addition to setting the school record, Hagemann needs 40 strikeouts to become the 11th Big Ten pitcher to record 1,000 strikeouts.
Hagemann has struck out 293 batters this season, the fifth-highest single-season total in school history and the second-best mark by a Husker senior. Hagemann needs only seven 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.