NEB Softball: Huskers Come Up Just Short vs. No. 2 Auburn

Posted By: Sports

Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

Lincoln, Neb. – A pair of unearned runs cost the Nebraska softball team a potential upset of No. 2 Auburn on Friday, but the Huskers still competed well in a 3-2 loss to the 2016 national runner-up Tigers.

Nebraska led 1-0 early before Auburn scored all three of its runs in the fourth inning, including two unearned runs. The Huskers then pulled within 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning and had the tying run at second base with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but could not complete the comeback against the second-ranked Tigers (2-1), who played their third straight one-run game after defeating No. 1 Oklahoma and falling to No. 13 Washington on Thursday.

The Huskers out-hit the Tigers, 9-7. Cassie McClure (0-1) threw a complete game and limited a potent Auburn offense to one earned run and only one extra-base hit. Despite losing to both No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Auburn on Friday, the Husker pitching staff allowed only two earned runs and two extra-base hits in 14.0 innings.

The potential for an upset of the Tigers started early, as Nebraska built a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Junior Kaylan Jablonski reached on a one-out double and scored on a two-out RBI single from sophomore Alyvia Simmons.

Nebraska then put up a zero in a strange top of the second inning. With a runner at first and one out, KK Crocker put down a perfect bunt and sophomore catcher Bri Cassidy pounced on the ball quickly, but she didn’t have time to obtain a better throwing angle and her quick throw to first hit Crocker as she reached first base. Victoria Draper then put down a bunt on the next pitch and made it safely to a vacated first base. With the bases loaded and one out, All-American Kasey Cooper hit a ground ball to senior Lotte Sjulin at first base and Sjulin threw home for a force out. Cooper, thinking she had made contact with the ball in the batter’s box, never ran to first, which allowed Cassidy to then throw back to Sjulin at first base for an inning-ending double play.

Auburn had another scoring opportunity in the top of the third following a Carlee Wallace leadoff double, but she was left stranded at third base following three straight ground outs.

The Tigers finally broke through in the top of the fourth. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. An RBI ground out tied the game at one before Nebraska elected to walk Cooper with first base open. With the bases loaded again with one out, Nebraska recorded a force out at home. McClure then coaxed a ground ball to freshman Rindy Bryant at shortstop and the Huskers appeared to get out of the inning, but junior Laura Barrow was unable to hold onto the throw at second base and two Tigers scored on the error, allowing Auburn to take a 3-1 lead.

Nebraska answered back in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Austen Urness led off with a single, her second hit of the game before Simmons beat out an infield single. McClure then lined a ball to deep left field that bounced out of the glove of Morgan Podany as she raced toward the wall. Simmons retreated to first as Podany nearly made the catch, and Simmons was then unable to make it to second base ahead of Podany’s throw as Auburn recorded the force out at second. Instead of the bases loaded and no outs, the Huskers had runners at first and third with one out. Freshman Haley Donaldson then singled down the right field line on the very next pitch to score Urness and cut the lead to 3-2. With runners on first and second and one out, freshman Tristen Edwards came on to pinch hit and grounded into an inning-ending double play.

McClure then retired Auburn in order in the top of the seventh before Metzler reached on a one-out double in the bottom of the frame. With the tying run on second base, Nebraska could not complete the comeback as a pair of fly outs ended the game.

Metzler, Simmons and Urness all finished with two hits apiece combining for six hits to nearly match the entire total of the Auburn lineup.

The Huskers (0-3) wrap up their stay at the season-opening Puerto Vallarta Classic on Saturday at 12:45 p.m. (Central) against 13th-ranked Washington.