Posted By: Sports
The Nebraska softball team begins its 2013 season next Friday with five games in three days at the Hotel Encanto Invitational on the campus of New Mexico State University. The Huskers will face Illinois-Chicago three times and the host Aggies once before closing the weekend with New Mexico.
Fans can listen to all five games for free on Huskers.com, beginning with Friday's season opener with UIC at 1:30 p.m. (Central). Nate Rohr is back in the broadcast booth to call all of the action for his ninth season as Nebraska's softball play-by-play announcer, and he will call every game of the 2013 season.
Nebraska is coming off a 33-22 campaign in 2012, when the Huskers missed the NCAA Tournament for only the second time since 1995. NU returns six starters from last year's squad, including five players who have earned at least one all-conference award thus far in their Husker careers. This weekend will also mark the debut for a talented seven-player freshman class, one that is expected to see as many as five players start a game this weekend despite Nebraska's returning talent.
Among the returners is senior co-captain Brooke Thomason, who was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season. She earned second-team All-Big 12 accolades as a freshman in 2012. She owns a .322 career batting average and has hit above .300 in each of her first three seasons. Thomason has homered at least seven times in each of her first three seasons - the first Husker ever to accomplish that feat - and her 26 career home runs rank eighth overall in school history and as the third-highest total entering a senior season. Thomason also needs only eight runs scored to become just the ninth player in Nebraska history to produce 100 career hits, RBIs and runs scored.
Junior Taylor Edwards could also join that exclusive club this season, needing four hits and 26 runs scored to reach the 100-milestone in each category. A 2011 third-team All-American and finalist for USA Player of the Year, Edwards enters the 2013 season ranked fourth in school history in slugging percentage (.603) and seventh in walks (77), while needing only three home runs and 10 RBIs to crack the all-time Husker top 10 in each category. Her twin sister Tatum has earned all-conference recognition in each of her first two seasons, while posting a .293 career batting average with 21 home runs and 80 RBIs. Tatum is also NU's lone returning pitcher, owning a 16-5 career record with a 2.69 ERA.
Seniors Courtney Breault and Gabby Banda are also back for their senior seasons in 2013, after earning second- and third-team All-Big Ten accolades, respectively last season.
Scouting the Illinois-Chicago Flames (0-0)
Illinois-Chicago is coming off a 26-26 season in 2012, when the Flames finished third in the Horizon League. UIC also opened last season in Las Cruces, N.M., posting a 2-3 record in five games. The Flames finished 0-6 against Big Ten foes in 2012.
Offensively, UIC batted .293 as a team with 37 home runs in 2012, while averaging 4.5 runs per game. The Flames must replace only two regular bats from last year's lineup, while returning six of their top seven averages from 2012. Melissa Preish, a first-team all-conference selection last spring, led UIC with a .391 average, .543 slugging percentage and .474 on-base percentage in 2012, while adding six doubles, five home runs and 17 RBIs. Kara Komp batted .369 in 2012, while Jacki Fletcher (.331), Courtney Heeley (.316) and Coryn Schmit (.308) all hit over .300 in 2012. Schmit also led the team with nine home runs and 39 RBIs.
In the circle, Illinois-Chicago returns one of its two pitchers from last season, while adding a pair of freshmen to the fold. Devin Miller returns after throwing a team-high 192.1 innings in 2012. She started 32 of UIC's 51 games last spring, posting a 14-13 record with a 3.79 ERA. Opponents hit .311 against Miller last season with 22 home runs and 36 doubles, but Miller struck out 169 and tossed four shutouts.
The all-time series between Nebraska and Illinois-Chicago is tied at 1-1. The teams met twice during the 2002 season, when the Huskers last advanced to the Women's College World Series. The Flames defeated Nebraska 5-2 in the first meeting in February, before the Huskers edged UIC 1-0 in the opening game of the NCAA Regional.
Scouting the New Mexico State Aggies (0-0)
New Mexico State finished 24-29 in 2012. NMSU, which lost twice to Nebraska last season by a combined score of 25-4, has traditionally fared well in its season-opening home tournament. The Aggies have hosted the season-opening Hotel Encanto Invitational each of the last four years, posting a 21-1 record at the event, including a pair of victories over Nebraska in 2010.
NMSU traditionally boasts one of the nation's most powerful offenses. The Aggies batted .281 as a team last season while slugging 40 home runs and averaging 4.7 runs per game. New Mexico State must replace four position starters, including two of its top three batting averages and its top two home run and RBI producers from 2012. Amber Olive is the leading returning hitter after batting a team-high .374 last season. Four other .300 hitters return for the Aggies this season, including Kristi Covarrubia (.357), Malena Padilla (.3515), Tina Cisneros (.308) and Tehani Kaaihue (.303). Staci Rodriguez is NMSU's top returning power threat after slugging five home runs and producing 26 RBIs in 2012.
In the circle, the Aggies return all three of last season's primary pitchers. Celisha Walker is back for her junior season after posting a 7-4 record with a 2.85 ERA and two saves in 68.2 innings last spring. Karysta Donisthorpe posted a solid freshman season in 2012, finishing with a 6-10 record and a 3.73 ERA in 116.1 innings. Alex Newman has been a workhorse for NMSU the past three seasons, and she posted a 10-14 record with a 4.22 ERA and four saves in 137.2 innings last spring. NMSU's staff surrendered 65 home runs in 53 games a year ago.
Nebraska leads the all-time series with New Mexico State, 10-5. The Huskers have won five straight in the series, with each win coming at the NMSU Softball Complex. During the five-game win streak, Nebraska has averaged 10.8 runs per game. The Aggies' last victory in the series came in game one of a four-game series with the Huskers in 2011. Nebraska and New Mexico State will meet again this season in Lincoln on March 15 and 16.
Scouting the New Mexico Lobos (0-0)
New Mexico opens its season with five games in three days in Tempe, Ariz., from Thursday to Saturday, before traveling to Las Cruces to face the Huskers on Sunday. New Mexico finished 27-25 in 2012 and returns five starters in Erica Beach's third season.
UNM boasted one of the nation's top offenses in 2012, ranking first in home runs per game, second in slugging percentage, sixth in scoring and 14th in batting average. The Lobos must replace five of their top six batting averages from last season, a group that combined to post a .355 average with 44 doubles, 72 home runs, 203 RBIs and a .711 slugging percentage. Chelsea Anaya is the only returning .300 hitter after batting .327 with seven doubles, nine homers and 33 RBIs in 2012.
In the circle, New Mexico returns its top two pitchers from last year's staff. Kaela DeBroeck posted a 13-6 record with a 5.66 ERA while throwing a team-high 133.2 innings in 2012. Carrie Sheehan also returns after finishing with an 8-9 record and a 5.07 ERA in 2012. Opponents hit .332 against New Mexico State last season while slugging 71 doubles, 49 home runs and averaging 6.0 runs per game.
New Mexico leads the all-time series with Nebraska 8-7, although the Huskers have won five straight in the series after UNM won the first five meetings in series history. Rhonda Revelle is 5-0 in her career against the Lobos. The last meeting between the teams was a 3-0 Husker win in 2009. The Huskers have shut out the Lobos in the past four meetings dating back to 2001, including a 3-0 win in Las Cruces in 2005.
Nebraska Returns Talent, Experience in 2013
Despite graduating a six-player senior class in 2012 that featured three all-conference performers, the 2013 Huskers still boast plenty of talent and experience. NU's current roster has combined for more than 800 career starts, and the Huskers are especially experienced in the field and at the plate.
NU returns an all-conference starter at catcher (junior Taylor Edwards), second base (senior Courtney Breault), third base (senior Gabby Banda), right field (senior Brooke Thomason) and at designated player (junior Tatum Edwards). Sophomore Mattie Fowler, who is still recovering from offseason knee surgery, is also back after winning the starting shortstop job as a freshman in 2012, while sophomore outfielder Jordan Bettiol earned 20 starts last season and senior outfielder Megan Southworth started a team-high 28 games in left field in 2011.
Among the five returning all-conference players, Thomason and Tatum Edwards are two-time all-league performers. Thomason owns a .322 career batting average with 31 doubles, 26 home runs and 119 RBIs, while Edwards has slugged 21 home runs and driven in 80 runs while batting .293. Tatum's twin sister Taylor was not only an all-conference selection as a freshman in 2011, but also a third-team All-American and a finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year. Taylor batted .356 as a freshman with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs and although those numbers dipped as a sophomore in 2012, she still drove in 38 runs and set a school record with 40 walks.
Banda and Breault each earned the first all-conference awards of their careers last season. Banda batted a team-best .352 in 2012 with a team-high 14 doubles. Breault was slowed early last year while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, but she batted .305 during Big Ten play with four home runs and 15 RBIs.
Overall, Nebraska's nine returning hitters have combined to post a .287 batting average with a .383 on-base percentage and a .473 slugging percentage. To put these averages in perspective, if only these nine players received at bats this season and each player merely matched her career averages, the .287 batting average would rank fourth in Nebraska single-season history, while the .383 on-base percentage would rank second and the .473 slugging percentage would be a school-record mark.
NU Inexperienced, but Talented In the Circle
While Nebraska brings back plenty of experience in the field and at the plate in 2013, the Huskers are less experienced in the circle. Nebraska must replace two of its three pitchers from the past two seasons. Junior right-hander Tatum Edwards is the only one of Nebraska's three current pitchers with collegiate experience, as the other members of the 2013 staff are freshmen Danica Bishop and Emily Lockman. Together, the staff will be looking to help replace the lost production of Ashley Hagemann, who earned back-to-back all-conference recognition in 2011 and 2012, while throwing more than 75 percent of NU's total innings the past two years.
Edwards owns a 16-5 career record with a 2.69 ERA in 130.0 innings. She possesses great stuff, as opponents have hit only .209 against her in her career, while managing just 15 extra-base hits in 484 at bats, including only five home runs. In 2012, Edwards was twice named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, while allowing one earned run or less in 10 of her 16 starts and tossing three complete-game one-hitters.
A right-hander from Corona, Calif., Lockman is expected to see significant time in the circle as a freshman. Although she lacks collegiate experience, Lockman was the California Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012, when she went 31-2 for Norco High School with a 0.35 ERA, while posting more shutouts (21) than earned runs (11) or walks (11) allowed. In her prep career, Lockman boasted a 74-19 record with a 0.89 ERA and 486 strikeouts.
Bishop, a native of Irvine, Calif., was an all-county all-star her senior season at Woodbridge High School, winning 11 games and posting a 2.47 ERA. Bishop made good strides during the fall and winter, including tossing 2.0 scoreless innings of one-hit relief against South Dakota in her longest outing of NU's fall season.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few statistics and brief notes as the Huskers open their 2013 season with five games in three days at the Hotel Encanto Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M.
Talented Freshman Class Expected to Contribute Immediately
Nebraska's seven-player freshman class ties for the largest in Rhonda Revelle's 21 seasons at Nebraska and the group figures to make an immediate impact on the program. Despite a 2013 roster that features six returning starters and five all-conference performers, as many as five freshmen could start in the opening weekend.
Three freshmen are expected to open the season in the starting lineup. Hailey Decker is slated to be Nebraska's primary second baseman in 2013. A two-time Oregon player of the year, Decker boasted a .599 career batting average while competing for McNary High School in the state's largest classification. She added 43 doubles, 12 triples, 27 home runs, 50 stolen bases and 150 RBIs in her prep career.
At shortstop, Alicia Armstrong will earn the opening-day start as returning starter Mattie Fowler is expected to be limited following offseason knee surgery. A talented athlete who is focusing solely on softball for the first time, Armstrong posted a .515 career batting average for Beatrice High School, a Nebraska all-class record. As Nebraska's Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, Armstrong produced a state-record .690 batting average, smashing the previous top mark by .095. Armstrong's performance could allow Fowler to move to first.
In the outfield, Kiki Stokes is expected to be Nebraska's everyday center fielder and the Huskers' leadoff hitter. The speedy Stokes was a three-time NFCA high school All-American during her stellar prep career at Olathe (Kan.) East High School, earning first-team honors as both a junior and senior. She posted a .605 career batting average, producing 181 hits, while scoring 163 runs and stealing 87 bases, all of which were school records for an Olathe East program that has produced more than 40 scholarship players at the collegiate level.
Other candidates to start at some point in the opening weekend are Emily Lockman and Dawna Tyson. Lockman is expected to start at least one game this weekend while teaming with junior Tatum Edwards as Nebraska's two primary pitchers this spring. The 2012 California Gatorade Player of the Year and first-team high school All-American, Lockman posted a 74-19 record with a 0.89 ERA and 486 strikeouts in a stellar four-year career for Norco High School. As a senior, Lockman finished 31-2 while leading Norco to the No. 1 national ranking. She recorded more shutouts (21) than walks (11) or earned runs allowed (11) as a senior, while posting a 0.35 ERA.
Another California native and a teammate of Lockman's with the Corona Angels, Tyson could see time in the starting lineup at either first base or as the designated player. The younger sister of former Husker Tori Tyson, Dawna was a four-time all-league selection for Corona High School. She batted a team-high .341 and drove in a team-best 23 runs during Corona's runner-up finish at the 2010 CIF Southern Section playoffs, earning one of her two nods as an All-CIF Selection.
Rounding out the freshman class are Danica Bishop and Sammi Noland. Bishop is expected to see limited action in the circle this season as she transitions to the Division I level. An all-county all-star for Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Calif., last spring, Bishop has already made solid strides since arriving on campus, and her continued development will be a key to adding depth to the Husker pitching staff. Behind the plate, Noland will serve as the back-up for 2011 All-American Taylor Edwards. A three-time state champion for Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, Ariz., Noland batted .422 as a junior and was selected as one of Southern Arizona's top players as a junior and senior. In her limited time on campus, Noland has impressed the Husker coaching staff enough to consider her for possible additional playing time in the outfield.
Huskers Hope For Improved Defense in 2013
Nebraska struggled defensively in 2012, committing 67 errors in 55 games while posting a .954 fielding percentage, the program's lowest mark in 15 seasons. The defense played a role in the Huskers allowing 3.5 runs per game in 2012, as 25 percent of the runs Nebraska allowed last season were unearned. Overall, NU allowed an average of 0.9 unearned runs per game in 2012.
The Huskers expect to play better defense this spring, and there are reasons to believe that expectation will be met. For starters, Nebraska's roster features three starting position players from the 2011 squad, which posted a .970 fielding percentage, the third-best mark in school history. The Huskers should also benefit from experience on the infield, as Nebraska returns its starters at second base, shortstop and third base, positions that saw new starters in 2012 from the previous season. In the outfield, Nebraska could feature one of its fastest outfields in recent memory, with the increased range hopefully leading to additional outs. Better range could also be noticeable in the middle infield if talented and athletic freshmen at second base (Hailey Decker) and shortstop (Alicia Armstrong) are able to adjust quickly to the Division I level.
Huskers Have Enjoyed Success in Las Cruces
Nebraska is playing at the NMSU Softball Complex in Las Cruces, N.M., for the fourth straight season. During the past three seasons, the Huskers have posted an 11-4 record at New Mexico State, winning 11 of their last 12 games, including eight in a row. NU has posted some impressive statistics the past three years in Las Cruces.
Returning Husker Hitters Leaving Mark in NU record book
Nebraska's offensive totals have been among the best in school history the past two seasons, posting top-five marks in batting average, runs scored, slugging percentage and on-base percentage in both 2011 and 2012. Nebraska hopes for another outstanding offensive season in 2013, led by a trio of Huskers who are already leaving their individual marks on the program.
Senior Brooke Thomason and junior twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards have combined for five all-conference awards entering this season. Thomason owns a .322 career batting average with 31 doubles, 26 home runs, 119 RBIs and a .556 slugging percentage. She enters her final season sixth on Nebraska's all-time charts in slugging percentage, eighth in home runs and RBIs and 13th in batting average. Thomason needs only four doubles and four walks to move into the top 10 on the career chart in both categories. Using the averages from her first three seasons, Thomason is on pace to finish third in school history in home runs (35) and RBIs (159), fourth in doubles (41) and walks (95), sixth in total bases (345), eighth in hits (200) and ninth in runs scored (193).
Taylor Edwards, the only All-American catcher in school history, enters her junior season with the fourth-best slugging percentage (.603) in Husker history, the seventh-most walks (77), the 12th-most RBIs (105) and 13th-most home runs (13). Using averages from her first two years, Edwards is on pace to finish with a school-record total in walks, the second-most RBIs and third-most home runs.
Tatum Edwards ranks seventh on Nebraska's all-time charts in slugging percentage (.548) and 14th in home runs (21) entering 2013. Like her twin sister Taylor, Tatum could crack the Huskers' all-time top 10 in home runs and RBIs before the end of her junior season.
Fowler Recovering From Knee Surgery
Sophomore Mattie Fowler, who started all 55 games as a freshman in 2012, is progressing well in her recovery from offseason knee surgery. Fowler started a team-high 49 games at shortstop last spring and although her availability could be limited early this spring, she is expected to be ready for action this weekend.
Last season, Fowler enjoyed the best weekend of her career during Nebraska's 5-0 record at the New Mexico State Troy Cox Classic in the second tournament of the year. That weekend, Fowler went 7-for-15 (.467) with three doubles, her first career home run and eight RBIs. She especially excelled against the host Aggies, combining to go 5-for-6 with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs in a pair of victories over New Mexico State.
Freshman Alicia Armstrong is expected to start in Fowler's absence. A native of Beatrice, Neb., Armstrong is expected to start at short for as long as Fowler is unable to play. A talented athlete who earned all-state status in three sports as a high school senior, Armstrong set Nebraska state records with a .690 batting average her senior season and a .514 career average. Her performance could allow Fowler to play some first base in 2013.
Trio of Huskers Have Chance to Join 100-100-100 Club This Season
Led by senior Brooke Thomason, three Huskers have a chance this season to join an exclusive group of Huskers who have produced 100 career hits, RBIs and runs scored. Only eight players in school history have reached each of those milestones and only once (2003) has a Husker team featured two players who totaled 100 career hits, RBIs and runs scored.
Thomason has already reached two of the three milestones and needs only eight runs scored to become the ninth Husker in the 100-100-100 club. Taylor Edwards also has an excellent shot at joining the club this season, attempting to join Crystal Carwile and Ali Viola as the only Huskers to join the club prior to their senior season. Edwards has already produced more than 100 RBIs and needs only four hits to reach 100 in her career and 26 runs scored. Taylor's twin sister Tatum could also join the club this season, as she enters the year needing six hits, 20 RBIs and 37 runs scored.
Senior Brooke Thomason and junior twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards have each homered more than 20 times in their Husker careers. Thomason leads the way with 26 career home runs - tied for eighth in school history - while Taylor and Tatum sit just outside the top 10 with 23 and 21 career home runs, respectively. Nebraska has three players in the same lineup with 20 career home runs for only the third time in school history (also in 1998 and 2011). This year marks the first time Nebraska has ever opened a season with three players who have all homered at least 20 times in their career.
Husker Offense Hopes to Continue Upward Trend
Hitting coach Diane Miller has produced impressive results in her first four seasons at Nebraska, helping the Husker offense enjoy some of the most productive seasons in school history. With five returning all-conference hitters in 2013, Nebraska's offense hopes to continue its upward trend in Miller's fifth season.
Nebraska is batting .020 better, slugging .071 higher and reaching base nearly four percent more often during Miller's tenure than during the same time frame prior to her arrival. The Huskers are also averaging 1.0 run more per game during that span, while averaging 62 more RBIs per season, 50 more walks, 20 more home runs and 19 more doubles.
In addition to the impressive statistical comparison above, the Huskers have proven consistent through Miller's first four seasons.
Fowler and Thomason Selected as Husker Co-Captains
Sophomore Mattie Fowler and senior Brooke Thomason will serve as Nebraska's co-captains for the 2013 season. Thomason is a four-year starter in right field who was a second-team All-Big 12 selection in 2010 and a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2012. Fowler is one of the lead organizers for team functions. She was Nebraska's starting shortstop as a freshman in 2012, producing five doubles, five home runs and 27 RBIs, including driving in the winning run in five of Nebraska's 14 Big Ten Conference victories.
Thomason Has Been Miss Consistent
Senior Brooke Thomason has been a consistent performer through her first three seasons, batting better than .300 each year while producing at least seven home runs and 30 RBIs as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Thomason is bidding to post a .300 batting average for the fourth straight season in 2013, after hitting .321 as a freshman in 2010, .319 as a sophomore in 2011 and .326 as a junior last season. Only five players in school history (Denise Day, Tobin Echo-Hawk, Jennifer Lizama, Kim Ogee and Ali Viola) have posted a .300 batting average every season of their careers. Each of those five players earned All-America honors in their Husker careers and four were multi-time All-Americans, as the group combined for 11 total All-America awards.
Thomason also homered 11 times as a freshman, eight times as a sophomore and seven times as a junior. The only Husker to ever begin her career with three straight seasons with at least seven home runs, Thomason is trying to become the first player in school history to homer at least seven times every season of her career.
From an RBI standpoint, Thomason ranks eighth in school history with 119 career RBIs, driving in 38 runs as a freshman, 34 as a sophomore and 47 last season, the most ever by a Husker junior. Thomason is the first Husker in school history to open her career with three straight seasons with at least 30 RBIs.
Nebraska's Golden Girls
Nebraska has enjoyed both recent and historical success recruiting talented players from California. The 2013 Husker roster features six natives of the Golden State. Included in that group are three players who earned California player-of-the-year honors during their high school careers. Junior Tatum Edwards was named the state's freshman of the year in 2007, while her twin sister Taylor was the California Junior of the Year in 2009, in addition to earning accolades as the nation's top junior from EA Sports. The third member of the Golden State player-of-the-year trio is freshman Emily Lockman, who was the California Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012.
Senior Courtney Breault, a 2012 second-team All-Big Ten and 2010 SEC All-Freshman Team selection (at Arkansas), and freshmen Danica Bishop and Dawna Tyson round out the California natives on NU's 2013 roster.
Revelle Nearing Coaching Milestones
Head Coach Rhonda Revelle has a couple of coaching milestones within reach this season. Revelle enters the 2013 season 38 wins shy of reaching 800 victories in her coaching career. At Nebraska, Revelle needs just 14 victories to surpass former baseball coach John Sanders as NU's all-time wins leader.
Revelle in 21st Season at Nebraska
Rhonda Revelle is in her 21st season at Nebraska in 2013. She is one of 22 active Division I coaches who have spent more than 20 seasons at their current school. Revelle owns a 754-407 record at NU and a career mark of 762-423. She is one of 23 active Division I coaches with 750 career victories. A member of the NFCA Hall of Fame, Revelle needs 14 victories to pass former baseball coach John Sanders as the all-time wins leader at Nebraska.
Huskers at the head of the Class
Nebraska leads all softball programs nationally with 29 CoSIDA Academic All-America awards won by 21 players. The total also ranks second nationally among all female athletic programs, trailing only the Husker volleyball team's 37 selections. Overall, NU leads all institutions nationally with 302 academic All-Americans across all sports.
NU is one of only three softball programs with 20 or more selections. Since Rhonda Revelle became Nebraska's head coach in 1993, she has produced 13 academic All-Americans, the highest total of any coach during that span.
Nebraska 10th-Fastest Program to Post 1,000 NCAA Victories
Since softball became an official NCAA sport in 1982, Nebraska has posted 1,093 victories, winning its 1,000th game at Women's College World Series qualifier Missouri on May 2, 2009. Although no official statistic is kept for victories in the NCAA era, according to research from CBS College Sports, the Huskers were the 10th program to win 1,000 games as an NCAA sport. The nine other teams that reached 1,000 NCAA wins before Nebraska were UCLA, Arizona, Florida State, Cal State Fullerton, Louisiana-Lafayette, California, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and East Carolina.
Nebraska softball is renowned for its tradition and one of the Huskers' richest traditions is stability. Nowhere is this highlighted more than looking at NU Head Coach Rhonda Revelle and Associate Head Coach Lori Sippel.
Revelle is in her 21st season at the helm of the Husker program in 2013, while Sippel is in her 24th year in Lincoln. Both coaches also played for Nebraska, with Revelle enjoying a three-year career and Sippel starring for four years. Counting their playing and coaching days, Revelle and Sippel have combined to be a part of 1,063 of Nebraska's 1,230 all-time victories (86 percent).
Although softball is no longer an official Olympic sport, Nebraska had four players compete in a total of three Olympic Games, with Huskers competing in the 1996, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Associate Head Coach Lori Sippel was the first Husker to play in the Olympics, as she pitched for Team Canada at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the first Games where softball was included. Sippel then served as Team Canada head coach for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when the Canadians finished fourth, their best finish ever. Former Huskers Sheena Lawrick and Robin Mackin were on that Canadian team, while Lawrick and Stephanie Skegas (Greece) competed in the 2004 Olympics.