Huskers Sweep Illinois with 4-1 Win in Finale
Behind another impressive performance from Ashley Hagemann, the Nebraska softball team completed a three-game sweep of Illinois with a 4-1 victory on Saturday at Bowlin Stadium.
With the win, Nebraska improved to 24-14 on the season, moving 10 games above .500 for the first time this season. The Huskers also improved to 7-2 in Big Ten Conference play by posting their second sweep through the first three conference series.
The win was Nebraska's 10th home win of the season, as the Huskers are 10-0 at Bowlin Stadium. The start is the second-best in the 11-year history of the stadium. NU has also won 13 consecutive home games dating back to last season, tying the longest winning streak in Bowlin Stadium history.
Hagemann earned her second win of the series to improve to 16-11 on the year. On Hometown Husker day, the Elkhorn, Neb., native fired a two-hitter and allowed only one run, while striking out four. On the series, Hagemann gave up only one run and surrendered just three hits while striking out 16 in 15.0 innings.
Offensively on Saturday, sophomore Tatum Edwards' two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning erased a 1-0 deficit and gave Nebraska the lead for good. Junior Brooke Thomason provided Nebraska's other two hits, finishing 2-for-2 with her Big Ten-leading 17th RBI in conference play.
Illinois lost for the eighth straight game and fell to 16-18 on the year and 2-7 in Big Ten play. Pepper Gay (11-10) took the loss for the third straight game, despite tossing a three-hitter and allowing only three earned runs.
Neither team recorded a hit until Meredith Hackett recorded a wind-blow double with one out in the top of the fourth, as the wind pushed her fly ball to right center out of the reach of senior Nikki Haget. Hackett then scored the game's first run when Jess Perkins lined a two-out, RBI double to right center.
In the bottom of the frame, junior Gabby Banda and sophomore Taylor Edwards drew back-to-back walks to begin the inning. Senior Ashley Guile moved the runners to second and third with a ground out before Tatum Edwards brought both runners home by lining a two-run double over the head of the center fielder. Thomason followed with a single to put runners at the corners before freshman Mattie Fowler lined out to deep left for a sacrifice fly that scored Tatum Edwards and gave Nebraska a 3-1 lead.
The Huskers added to their lead with another run in the fifth. Taylor Edwards reached on a one-out error before the Illini were unable to record an out on a ground ball from Guile, throwing late to second base. Thomason then scored freshman pinch runner Jordan Bettiol with a two-out, RBI single to make it 4-1.
Hagemann took it from there, retiring 10 of the final 11 hitters she faced.
Nebraska wraps up its four-game homestand on Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Creighton.