Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics
Evanston, Ill. - An eight-run fifth inning powered the 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team to a 10-1 five-inning victory at No. 23 Northwestern Sunday, as the Huskers won the series with the Wildcats and handed Northwestern its first run-rule defeat of the season.
Nebraska trailed 1-0 before scoring twice in the fourth and eight times in the fifth. The eight-run fifth inning matched the Huskers' highest-scoring inning of the year. Nebraska had nine hits in the victory, including four home runs, which tied its season high. Sophomore Hailey Decker and senior Tatum Edwards hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth, while freshmen MJ Knighten and Kat Woolman each hit three-run homers in the fifth.
Decker, Tatum Edwards and sophomore Alicia Armstrong each produced two hits, while Knighten and Woolman each drove in three runs. Decker finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, two runs and a walk, while Armstrong was 2-for-2 with a walk and Knighten was 1-for-1 with a walk, a sacrifice and the three-run homer.
After being outscored 10-2 on Friday, Nebraska responded in a big way over the final two games of the series, outscoring the Wildcats 23-4. By scoring double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2012 season, Nebraska improved to 23-11 on the season and evened its Big Ten Conference record at 3-3, having faced a ranked team in each of its first six league contests.
Sophomore right-hander Emily Lockman (11-4) earned the victory, allowing just one run on three hits in 3.1 innings. Tatum Edwards picked up her second save of the year, striking out three in 1.2 innings of no-hit relief.
Northwestern, which suffered its worst two losses of the season the past two games, fell to 19-8 on the year and dropped to 3-3 in Big Ten play. Kristen Wood suffered just her third loss of the season, falling to 10-3 after allowing seven runs in 4.1 innings.
Northwestern scored the game's first run in the bottom of the second inning. A leadoff single was followed by an RBI double before Lockman dug down and prevented any further damage.
Nebraska answered back in the top of the fourth, grabbing a 2-1 lead on back-to-back home runs from Decker and Tatum Edwards. After giving up the two home runs, Wood walked three of the next four hitters to load the bases with only one out, but Nebraska missed a golden opportunity to add to its lead as the next two Huskers struck out looking to end the inning.
Northwestern squandered a similar opportunity in the bottom of the frame. A leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with Wildcats with one out. Tatum Edwards came on in relief and recorded a strikeout before coaxing a ground ball back to the circle to preserve the Huskers' one-run lead.
The Huskers then exploded for an eight-run fifth inning to take a 6-1 lead. Decker got the inning started with a one-out walk, before Tatum Edwards doubled down the left field line. With runners at second and third, Armstrong delivered an RBI single to shallow left field to stretch Nebraska's lead to 3-1. Knighten then blasted the next pitch well over the fence in left center for a three-run homer.
A pair of walks and a pitching change put runners at first and second for Woolman, who blasted a three-run homer to center field to put Nebraska on top 9-1. Following the second out, senior Taylor Edwards doubled before Decker scored her with an RBI single to cap the eight-run inning.
Tatum Edwards then retired Northwestern in order in the bottom of the fifth to wrap up the run-rule victory.
After four straight road games, the Huskers return home on Wednesday to host Creighton. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Bowlin Stadium and the game will be televised live by BTN.