Ashley Hagemann tosses no-hitter vs Illinois
Behind Ashley Hagemann's first career no-hitter and three home runs from the Husker offense, the Nebraska softball team cruised to an 11-0, six-inning victory over Illinois in the first game of a Friday doubleheader at Bowlin Stadium.
Hagemann, a senior right-hander from Elkhorn, Neb., dominated the Fighting Illini hitters while throwing the first no-hitter by a Husker pitcher since Alex Hupp in 2008. In 6.0 innings, Hagemann allowed only two walks and struck out 11. She faced only one batter over the minimum and Illinois' Nos. 6-9 hitters combined to go 0-for-8 with eight strikeouts. Hagemann improved her record to 15-11 on the season while posting her ninth double-digit strikeout effort and second straight.
With Hagemann in control in the circle, sophomore Taylor Edwards, junior Brooke Thomason and senior Ashley Guile each homered for the Huskers. Edwards and Guile teamed up for back-to-back shots in the third inning, before Thomason wrapped up the run-rule victory with a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the sixth. Thomason finished 2-for-3 in the win and tied her career high with five RBIs, while also scoring twice and hitting her second grand slam of the season. Guile homered in her only official at bat of the game, as she also walked twice, scored twice and produced two RBIs, including a first-inning sacrifice fly. Junior Gabby Banda also recorded a multi-hit game with a 2-for-3 effort, while Edwards finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
After Illinois was retired in the top of the first inning, Nebraska loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the frame. Senior Nikki Haget reached on an error to begin the inning, before Banda singled and Taylor Edwards walked. Guile then brought Haget home with a sacrifice fly to give the Huskers a 1-0 lead. Illinois right-hander Pepper Gay prevented further damage by striking out the next two hitters.
Taylor Edwards then gave Nebraska a 2-0 lead with a towering, solo home run to left with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Guile followed with another homer eight pitches later and the back-to-back home runs gave the Huskers a 3-0 lead.
The Huskers added to their lead with four more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Banda doubled to lead off the inning before Taylor Edwards and Guile drew back-to-back walks to load the bases with none out. Two batters later, Thomason worked a five-pitch walk to bring Banda home with Nebraska's fourth run. Freshman pinch-runner Jordan Bettiol gave the Huskers a 5-0 lead when she scored on a two-out wild pitch. Junior Courtney Breault then lined a 3-2 change-up the other way for a clutch two-out, two-run single that made it 7-0.
Nebraska closed out the run-rule victory with another run in the sixth. Haget began the inning with an infield single before Banda walked to put runners at first and second. The Huskers loaded the bases following a one-out walk to Guile, before Thomason ended the shortened game with a two-out grand slam to center.
The win improved Nebraska's record to 22-14 on the season and 5-2 in league play. The Huskers also improved to 8-0 at home this season and won their 10th consecutive home game overall.
Pepper Gay (11-8) took the loss for Illinois, which fell to 16-16 on the year and 2-5 in Big Ten Conference play with its sixth straight loss.
Nebraska and Illinois wrap up the opening day of their three-game series with game two of the doubleheader.