Posted By: Sports
Courtesy: UNL Media Relations
Huskers Look For B1G Run in Conference Tournament
The Nebraska softball team (31-22, 9-13 Big Ten) begins postseason action on Thursday when the team plays Michigan State (24-25, 10-11 Big Ten) at 4:30 CT in the first round of the 2018 Big Ten Softball Tournament at the Goodman Softball Complex in Madison, Wis. The Huskers enter the tournament as the No. 9 seed, while the Spartans are the No. 8 seed. NU hopes to make a deep run in the tournament to help increase its chances for an NCAA Tournament bid, which will be announced Sunday, after the conclusion of the tournament. All games of the conference tournament will be televised on BTN and will also be available on BTN2Go and the mobile app. Additionally, all Husker games will be available on Huskers.com (radio).
Last Time Out
Nebraska closed the regular season by snapping an eight-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over Illinois. In the win, senior Taylor Otte went 2-for-4 at the plate, with a home run and a double. In the circle, freshman Olivia Ferrell pitched a complete 7.0 innings. She gave up just three runs.
Husker Big Ten Tournament History
Nebraska is 4-5 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament. Last season, the Huskers lost to Penn State in the first round. Nebraska made its best run in the tournament in 2015, advancing to the finals and finishing second overall to Michigan.
Scouting Michigan State
Michigan State claimed the No. 8 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, after finishing the regular season with an overall record of 24-25, which included a conference record of 10-11. The Spartans have picked things up lately, as they have won eight of their last night games over the last two weeks. The team's only loss in the two-week stretch was to in-state rival Michigan, who recently claimed the Big Ten Regular-Season Title.
Most recently, the Spartans swept Maryland in a three-game series March 4-5 in College Park, Md. MSU scored at least six runs in all three games against Maryland, and scored 15 in the series finale.
At the plate, Lea Foerster is leading the Spartans with a batting average of .376. She's been even better in conference play, averaging .413, which ranks sixth in the conference. Foerster also leads the team with 10 home runs, 53 hits and a slugging percentage of .738. In conference play, she's slugging .857, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten. Additionally, her 21 doubles this season lead the Big Ten. Foerster is also the only Spartan to have started all 49 games this season. She's getting help from McKenzie Long (.345), Kaitlyn Eveland (.319), Ebonee Echols (.308) and Katie Quinlan (.306), who are all batting over .300 this season. Kelcey Carrasco is also having a good season on offense, as she ranks second on the team with 10 doubles and is leading the team with 31 RBIs.
In the circle, Kristina Zalewski and Bridgette Rainey share most of the load for the Spartans, pitching 146.2 and 104.0 innings, respectively. Zalewski (14-10) has a team-low ERA of 2.20. She's appeared 29 times, which includes 24 starts and 14 complete games. She's also pitched two solo shutouts and has Michigan State's only save this season. Additionally, she has a team-high 156 strikeouts. Rainey has a record of 7-11 and an ERA of 3.97. She's pitched in 28 games, which includes 19 starts and eight complete games. She also has 110 strikeouts.
As a team, the Spartans have 58 errors through 49 games and have given up 48 unearned runs this season. The team's fielding percentage of .955 ranks 10th in the Big Ten.