Husker softball upsets No. 9 JMU

Posted By: Sports

Story Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

Tempe, Ariz. An eight-run fourth inning powered the 23rd-ranked Nebraska softball team to its second win over a top-10 opponent this season, as the Huskers rallied from a four-run deficit to defeat No. 9 James Madison, 8-4, at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

Sophomore Austen Urness highlighted the Huskers’ big inning with a grand slam that gave Nebraska a 6-4 lead. Junior MJ Knighten then capped the frame with a two-run homer, her 12th of the year. Urness had a career high four RBIs in the win, while Knighten produced her 11th game with multiple hits and eighth game with multiple RBIs.

With the win, Nebraska improved to 13-4 while snapping James Madison’s 17-game win streak. Junior right-hander Cassie McClure (7-2) earned the win, allowing four runs over the first 5.0 innings. Senior right-hander Emily Lockman pitched the final 2.0 innings and did not allow a run.

Two-time All-American Jailyn Ford (8-1) suffered her first loss for James Madison, which fell to 19-2 on the season. Ford came on in relief and allowed four runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings.

James Madison jumped out to a 2-0 lead two batters into the game on an infield single and a two-run homer from Morgan Tolle.

The Dukes doubled their lead to 4-0 in the top of the fourth. The inning started with a hit batter before Niki Prince doubled off the wall in center. But great awareness by freshman second baseman Laura Barrow to play a long carom of the wall and a perfect throw to home plate got the runner trying to score for the first out. An RBI triple then made it 3-0 before a bunt single put James Madison on top, 4-0.

The Huskers answered back in a big way in the bottom of the frame. After being no-hit through the first three innings, Nebraska exploded for eight runs on five hits in the bottom of the fifth. Knighten ignited the rally by lining the first pitch of the inning down the left field line for a leadoff double. Senior Alicia Armstrong followed with an infield single when she beat the second baseman to the first base bag on a chopper to first. A strikeout marked the first out of the inning before the next four Huskers reached.

Trailing 4-0 with runners on first and third with one out, senior Mattie Fowler produced an RBI ground out to put the Huskers on the board, and Fowler reached base safely on an error. McClure then lined an RBI single to right center to put Nebraska on the board. Sophomore Madi Unzicker was the first batter Ford faced and she walked to load the bases before Urness blasted an 0-2 pitch to center for her first career grand slam that gave Nebraska a 6-4 lead.

The Huskers then capped the inning when senior Kiki Stokes drew a two-out walk in front of a two-run home run from Knighten.

Both teams went quickly in the fifth before James Madison mounted a big threat in the top of the sixth against Lockman. A pair of one-out singles and a two-out walk brought the tying run to the plate with two outs, before Lockman coaxed a ground ball back to the circle to end the threat.

Lockman then worked around a two-out walk in the top of the seventh to secure Nebraska’s upset victory.

Nebraska wraps up its opening day at the Louisville Slugger Invitational with a second game against No. 21 Arizona State.