Huskers Host Creighton on Wednesday Night
The Nebraska softball team wraps up its longest homestand of the season on Wednesday, April 1, when the Huskers welcome the Creighton Bluejays to Bowlin Stadium for the first of two meetings this season.
First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. on Wednesday in the final contest of NU’s seven-game homestand. Tickets for Wednesday’s game are available at the ticket office behind home plate on the day of the game, online at Huskers.com or over the phone by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED.
Fans unable to make it out to the ballpark can listen to Nate Rohr call all of the action for the Husker Sports Network. The radio broadcast can be heard for free on the internet at Huskers.com. A live video stream of the game will also be available to HuskersNSide subscribers.
Nebraska enters its first game of April following a highly successful month of March. The Huskers went 18-3 in March against a schedule that included four games against top-20 teams and two more contests against teams receiving votes in the polls. NU’s April schedule will be even more challenging beginning with its first game against Creighton.
The 17-8 Bluejays are in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference and are currently receiving seven votes in the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, while the Huskers are receiving one vote. Nebraska has dominated the all-time series with Creighton, but the Bluejays have earned the edge in the most recent meetings. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 42-10 in her career against Bluejay Head Coach Brent Vigness, but Vigness has led Creighton to three straight wins in the series and six of nine overall, including three straight wins at Bowlin Stadium. With a win on Wednesday, Creighton would have a four-game win streak in the series for the first time in the 109-game history of the series.
Following Wednesday’s contest, Nebraska hits the road for a two-game series at 12th-ranked Oklahoma. This week’s three-game schedule gives Nebraska an excellent opportunity to erase some bad memories from last year’s regular-season contests with Creighton and Oklahoma.
The Huskers were swept by both teams in the regular-season last year. OU swept a doubleheader from NU by a combined score of 17-1, including an 11-1 win that marked Nebraska’s worst Big 12 loss at Bowlin Stadium. Two weeks later, Creighton run-ruled the Huskers 13-1 in NU’s worst overall loss in Bowlin Stadium history.
The 2009 Huskers have already done much to prove they are a different team than last year. NU is 27-5 this season, marking the Huskers’ third-best record after 32 games in the 34-year history of the program.
Scouting the Creighton Bluejays (17-8)
After having three games rained out at Northern Iowa last weekend, Creighton will be playing its first game in a week on Wednesday. The Bluejays have won six in a row and nine of their last 10, including a doubleheader sweep at Kansas last week. Nebraska and Creighton share two common opponents this season in North Dakota State and South Dakota State. The Huskers went 5-0 against those teams, while Creighton posted a 2-1 record.
Creighton is led by Tara Oltman, the two-time Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year. Oltman is 14-5 this season with a 1.12 ERA. She has struck out 113 in 118.2 innings as opponents are batting just .166 against her. Overall, opponents are hitting just .212 against the Bluejay staff with only 27 extra-base hits in 609 at bats. Kylie Hovinga has seen extensive action in her rookie season, as she has compiled a 3-3 record with a 4.26 ERA in 47.2 innings. Alexa Mackevicius (0-0, 10.50 ERA in 2.0 innings) rounds out the staff.
Offensively, Creighton is hitting .267 as a team while averaging more than four runs per game. Lincoln native Renae Sinkler paces the Bluejays with a .343 average, five home runs, a .643 on-base percentage and a .466 on-base percentage. Senior Laura Kratochvil has also homered five times while leading the team with 23 RBIs and ranking second with a .333 average. Michelle Koch (.304) is also batting above .300, while Lincoln native Bailey Dawson is hitting .298 with six doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs.
Husker History vs. Creighton
Nebraska has played more games against Creighton than any other program in school history. The Huskers and Bluejays have met 108 times entering Wednesday’s meeting, with Nebraska holding a 73-35 edge in the series. The Huskers’ 73 wins in the series unofficially rank as the fifth-most victories against a single opponent in NCAA Division I history, according to research compiled by the Florida State media relations office. Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 45-12 in her career against Creighton, including a 42-10 mark vs. Bluejay Head Coach Brent Vigness.
Nebraska had won 15 straight in the series - and 23 of 24 overall - before Creighton swept the season series for the first time ever in 2005. The Bluejays against swept the season series last year, as Creighton has won the past three meetings, four of the last five and six of the past nine. CU’s current three-game winning streak matches its longest in the history of the series.
Last season, Creighton earned a 7-2 victory in Omaha before handing the Huskers their worst loss ever at Bowlin Stadium with a 13-1 five-inning victory in Lincoln. CU’s first win provided its largest margin of victory in the series in more than a decade, while the Bluejays’ second win marked their third-highest run total in series history. In the first meeting, Nebraska was only out-hit 9-7, but each of the Huskers’ hits were singles, while Creighton slugged a pair of doubles and two home runs. The Bluejays led 7-0 going into the seventh inning before Nebraska scored twice to avoid the shutout.
In the meeting in Lincoln, NU committed four errors and gave up 10 hits as Creighton scored in four of the five innings. Kelli Linke provided the offense for NU, smashing the first home run of her career.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes of interest as the Huskers wrap up their season-long seven-game homestand on Wednesday against Creighton:
Nebraska’s record after 32 games stands at 25-7. The Huskers have matched last year’s win total (25-28).
The only other teams in the 34-year history of Nebraska softball to win at least 25 of the first 32 games were the 2002 Huskers (27-5) and the 2006 Huskers (26-6).
Nebraska returns every starter from the 2008 season and a total of 15 letterwinners. Overall, the Huskers’ 21-player roster has combined to start 1,456 games at the Division I level.
NU is 452-217 (.676) all-time in the month of April, as the month has been Nebraska’s best all-time month in terms of victories and winning percentage. Last year, the Huskers were just 7-10 in April.
The Huskers have hit 22 home runs this season after homering only 15 times in 2008 and 14 times in 2007.
Six Huskers have hit more than one home run this season, the highest total at NU since 2003.
Nebraska is averaging an extra-base hit every 13.4 at bats and an RBI every 5.6 at bats this season. Last year, the Huskers averaged an extra-base hit every 19.1 at bats and an RBI every 8.6 at bats.
Six starters in the Husker lineup are hitting above .300.
Six Huskers have already posted double-digit walk totals this year. Last year, a total of three Huskers drew 10-or-more walks in 53 games.
Of the Huskers’ 11 returning hitters, six have set career highs this season in runs scored, five in RBIs and home runs and four in doubles.
Senior Meghan Mullin has scored 30 runs in 32 games this season, becoming the fastest player to score 30 runs in a season since at least 2000.
The Huskers have held 24 of their first 32 opponents to two runs or less.
Nebraska gave up only two runs in each of its two Big 12 losses, marking the only times the Huskers have lost this season when allowing less than three runs. NU is 22-2 overall when allowing two runs or less.
The Oklahoma State loss on Sunday marked the Huskers’ first loss this season when they did not commit an error. Overall, Nebraska is 13-1 this season when playing error-free ball.
Molly Hill has enjoyed terrific run support this season. In her 15 starts, Nebraska has averaged 5.7 runs per game. In 2008, Hill received 3.7 runs of support and Nebraska scored only 2.5 runs per game for Hill in 2007.
Nebraska is 50-of-58 in stolen bases this season, a success rate of 86 percent. Overall, the Huskers have been successful on 36 of their last 38 attempts.
NU has been hurt by two-out runs in its losses. In five of NU’s seven losses, every run has scored with two outs.