After picking up its 30th victory of the year with a road win at Baylor on Sunday, the Nebraska softball team returns home to host its final home games of the regular season this week at Bowlin Stadium.
The Huskers host Northern Iowa in a Wednesday doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. before welcoming the Texas Tech Red Raiders to town on Saturday and Sunday for a two-game series. First pitch on Saturday is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be shown live in the state of Nebraska on NET. Sunday’s series finale will start at Noon.
Tickets are available for all four remaining home games this season and can be purchased online at Huskers.com, over the phone by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED or at the main ticket booth behind home plate on the day of the game.
Fans unable to make it out to Bowlin Stadium for the final homestand can follow all of the action live on Huskers.com. A free live radio broadcast featuring the call of play-by-play voice Nate Rohr will be available for all four games, courtesy of the Husker Sports Network. The weekend series with Texas Tech will also have free live video streaming on Huskers.com, including the feed of the NET television production of Saturday’s game.
Wednesday’s doubleheader with Northern Iowa marks the Huskers’ first non-conference games since April 1. Each of Nebraska’s past 10 games have come against Big 12 foes, with the Huskers posting a 5-5 record during that stretch, including a 2-2 mark against ranked opponents and a 3-1 home record. The doubleheader with the Panthers nearly wraps up the non-conference slate for the Huskers, as their lone remaining non-conference game of the season is an April 28 matchup at Creighton. Overall, 12 of NU’s 16 games in the month of April are against Big 12 teams, with the lone exceptions being the four games against the two Missouri Valley Conference programs.
Nebraska and Northern Iowa have already met once this season, with the Huskers holding on for a 2-1 victory at the UNI-Dome on Feb. 8. NU plated a pair of first-inning runs on bases-loaded walks but did not score the rest of the way, as UNI ace Jen Larsen tossed 6.1 innings of scoreless relief. Freshman Ashley Hagemann earned the victory for NU, allowing one run on three hits in 4.0 innings of work. Senior Molly Hill earned the save by tossing 3.0 scoreless innings of three-hit relief that included six strikeouts.
The Huskers enter Wednesday’s doubleheader fresh off their 30th victory of the season last Sunday at Baylor. Hill was brilliant against the Lady Bears, tossing a three-hit shutout in the 1-0 victory. The win was the 20th of the year for Hill, marking the first 20-win season of her career. Hill is one of only three Big 12 pitchers this season to post 20 wins, as she currently ranks third in the league in wins and ERA, while ranking first in saves.
The one-run win was a welcome decision for the Huskers after losing 4-3 in 10 innings on Saturday. Overall, NU’s seven Big 12 losses have come by a combined eight runs.
Scouting the Northern Iowa Panthers (30-16)
Northern Iowa enters a Tuesday night meeting with Iowa with a 30-16 record after losing two of three to Indiana State last weekend. Prior to dropping the series against the Sycamores, UNI had won five of its last six games, including an impressive doubleheader sweep at Wisconsin by a combined score of 17-0. The Huskers and Panthers have met once this season, with Nebraska earning a 2-1 victory on Feb. 8.
The Panthers possess a potent lineup that is averaging 5.1 runs per game and nearly one home run per game. Nebraska boasts a higher batting average than Northern Iowa, but UNI’s slugging percentage is .049 higher than the Huskers’ mark. Megan Machovec leads the team with a .376 average, as she is one of four Panthers hitting above .300. Machovec has also added team-high totals of 36 runs and six triples, while Rachel Gerking leads the team with 11 doubles and 46 RBIs to go along with four homers and a .335 average. Overall, six Panthers have produced at least 20 RBIs this season, while Kelly Papesh (12 homers) and Brittney Balduf (10) have each hit at least 10 home runs.
In the circle, UNI boasts a 2.60 staff ERA that includes nine shutouts. Jen Larsen has tossed eight of those shutouts while seeing the majority of the action in the circle. Larsen, who is also hitting .313 with six homers and 32 RBIs, is 17-8 on the season with a team-low 1.68 ERA in a team-high 174.2 innings. Opponents are hitting only .244 against her, but she has walked 55 while striking out only 64. Melissa Tillett is UNI’s No. 2 pitcher, having thrown 88.2 innings and compiling a 5-7 record with a 3.55 ERA. Jaye Hutcheson is 5-1 on the year with a 2.82 ERA in 27.1 innings, while Sarah Bakey (2-0, 4.81 ERA in 16.0 innings) and Eranne Daugharthy (1-0, 5.25 ERA in 13.1 innings) round out the Northern Iowa staff.
Husker History vs. Northern Iowa
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Northern Iowa 16-2 following the Huskers’ 2-1 victory at the UNI-Dome on Feb. 9. NU had won seven straight games in the series before the Panthers and Huskers split a doubleheader at Bowlin Stadium last season. Nebraska leads the all-time series at Bowlin Stadium 9-2. Husker Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 11-2 in her career against Northern Iowa, but she is just 2-1 against UNI Head Coach Ryan Jacobs, who is in his second season.
In the first meeting this season, sophomore Kelli Linke and junior Whitney Barrett each coaxed bases-loaded walks in the top of the first inning to lead the Huskers to a 2-1 win. Freshman right-hander Ashley Hagemann started and earned the win in the circle for NU, allowing one run over 4.0 innings. Senior right-hander Molly Hill came on in relief with the tying runner in base and struck out six over three innings of scoreless relief to earn the save.
In last year’s doubleheader, Hill took the loss in game one as Northern Iowa rallied for two runs in the top of the sixth inning to post a 2-1 victory. In the second game, the Huskers got their offense going as NU finished with a season-high 14 hits as five Huskers posted multi-hit games in the 6-2 victory.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes of interest as the Huskers open up a four-game homestand with a Wednesday doubleheader against Northern Iowa:
Nebraska returned every starter from the 2008 season and a total of 15 letterwinners. Overall, the Huskers’ 21-player roster has combined to start 1,566 games at the Division I level.
The Huskers have hit 25 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.
Six current starters in the Husker lineup are hitting above .300.
Six Huskers have 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, seven have set career highs this season in RBIs, six in runs scored and five in home runs and doubles.
The Huskers have held 30 of their first 42 opponents to two runs or less.
Nebraska gave up only two runs in three of its seven Big 12 losses, marking the only times the Huskers have lost this season when allowing less than three runs. NU is 26-3 overall when allowing two runs or less.
Nebraska is 16-2 this season when playing error-free ball.
Molly Hill has enjoyed solid run support this season. In her 28 starts, Nebraska has averaged 4.2 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. In Big 12 play however, Hill is receiving only 3.3 runs of support.
Nebraska is 62-of-71 in stolen bases this season, a success rate of 87 percent. Overall, the Huskers have been successful on 48 of their last 51 attempts, including a perfect 15-of-15 in Big 12 play.
NU has been hurt by two-out runs in its losses. In six of NU’s 13 losses, every run has scored with two outs.
The Huskers have scored 209 runs in 43 games this season. In 2007, NU totaled 177 runs in 57 games and last year, the Huskers put up 190 runs in 53 games.
Overall, seven of Nebraska’s 13 losses have come by just one run.
In Big 12 play, the Huskers’ seven losses have come by a combined eight runs.
Senior Molly Hill has been outstanding in the circle all season, but especially during the Huskers’ recent 10-game stretch against Big 12 foes. She started all 10 games, including four against ranked teams, two more against teams receiving votes in the poll and seven road starts. During those last 10 games, Hill has only posted a 5-4 record, but she has compiled a 1.37 ERA with seven complete games and two shutouts. Opponents are hitting only .234 against her, but where Hill has been most impressive has been in the late innings.
Over her last 10 games, Hill has struggled somewhat in the first three innings of a game, but has been downright dominant from the fourth inning on. During the challenging 10-game stretch, Hill allowed 14 runs over the first three innings while posting a 2.57 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .301 against her. But from the fourth inning on, Hill allowed only four total runs in 37.2 innings. Opponents hit just .163 against her after the third inning, while Hill posted a 0.56 ERA from the fourth inning on.
Hill Reaches 20 Wins for First Time in Career
Senior right-hander Molly Hill earned her 20th victory of the season with a three-hit shutout over Baylor last Sunday. Hill, whose record stands at 20-9 on the season, is one of only three pitchers in the Big 12 Conference to post 20 wins this season. She currently ranks third in the conference with her 20 victories, as Texas’ Brittany Barnhill leads the league with 22 wins, while Baylor’s Whitney Canion ranks second with 21 victories.
Despite tying for fifth in career victories at Nebraska, this season marks Hill’s first 20-win season. She won 18 games as a freshman, 17 games as a sophomore and 15 games as a junior. Hill currently owns 70 career victories, which ties former Husker Ashley DeBuhr for fifth place in the Husker history book.
Solid On Defense
Nebraska has been solid defensively throughout the season, but the Huskers have picked it up a notch since conference play began. Overall, NU ranks third in the league with a .973 fielding percentage, but the Huskers rank first with a .976 fielding percentage in conference-only games. Nebraska has posted a .990 fielding percentage over its last six games, committing just two errors. Both of those errors came from the Huskers’ starting battery, as every other defensive starter has gone at least seven games without committing an error.
Right fielder Haley Long has gone 76 games without an error, while center fielder Meghan Mullin has gone 46 games and left fielder Darcy Rutherford has posted a 13-game errorless streak. In the infield, Julie Brechtel has gone 27 games without an error at second base, while Jamie Gay has been error-free in her last eight games at third base and Crystal Carwile and Whitney Barrett have each gone seven games without an error at first and third base, respectively.
Stat of the Week
Nebraska has allowed only one home run in Big 12 play this season, a stretch that includes 14 games and 362 at bats. Every other conference school has allowed at least four home runs in league play, including four schools who have given up at least 10 home runs.
Carwile Ties School Record
Senior Crystal Carwile has been hit by a team-high seven pitches this season and 22 times in her career, which ties the Nebraska career record. Carwile is just the second player in school history to get hit by 20 pitches in a career. After being hit by one pitch at Baylor last weekend, Carwile moved into a tie for first on the Husker career chart with Devin Porter, who was plunked 22 times from 2004 to 2007.
Huskers End Homerless Drought
Nebraska snapped an eight-game homerless streak in a big way last week in a two-game, mid-week series against Iowa State. After not homering in eight straight games, the Huskers hit three home runs against Iowa State. NU entered play last week with only one home run through the first 10 Big 12 games, but the Huskers now have four home runs in conference action.
Seniors Crystal Carwile and Molly Hill have already left their mark in the Husker record books, but the senior duo have reached several impressive milestones this season. Carwile reached another milestone last Thursday when she hit her 40th career double. A native of Chino, Calif., Carwile is only the fifth player in school history to hit 40 doubles in a career. Earlier this season she became just the fourth player in Husker history to homer 30 times in a career, while last week she also became the second player in Nebraska history to be hit by 20 pitches in a career.
In the circle, Hill has reached several milestones of her own and is close to another. Earlier this season, Hill became the sixth pitcher in school history to record 600 career strikeouts, the fifth to throw 70 complete games and the fifth to earn 100 career decisions. Last weekend at Baylor, Hill also became only the sixth pitcher in school history to post 70 career victories and just the fourth to throw 700.0 career innings.
Stolen Base Success
Nebraska has been great at stealing bases this season and even better when defending against the stolen base. Opponents have only been successful on 20-of-32 stolen base attempts this year. The 20 stolen bases rank as the third-fewest stolen bases allowed by a Big 12 school, while the Huskers’ 38 percent caught stealing also ranks third. In conference games only, opponents are just 8-of-12 stealing against Nebraska, as the Huskers have thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers, a total that ranks second in the league.
Offensively, NU ranks fourth in the league with 62 stolen bases in only 71 attempts, as the Huskers’ 87 percent success rate ranks second in the Big 12. Nebraska is a perfect 15-of-15 in stolen bases in conference action. Every other conference school has been caught stealing at least once during the Big 12 season.