NEB Softball: Huskers Host Hoosiers to Close Regular Season

Posted By: Sports

Huskers Host Hoosiers to Close Regular Season
The 19th-ranked Nebraska softball team hopes to start a new winning streak this weekend, when it closes the regular season by hosting the Indiana Hoosiers at Bowlin Stadium.

Nebraska saw its 11-game winning streak snapped with a game two loss in Wednesday’s doubleheader at Wisconsin. The Huskers outscored their opponents 94-4 during the 11-game winning streak in one of the most dominant stretches in school history. Although the winning streak has ended, Nebraska has a chance to get to 40 wins with a sweep this weekend. A 40-win regular season has been rare in Husker history, as only six times has NU captured 40 wins during a regular season. Since the NCAA put a 56-game limit on the number of regular-season games, only the 2006 Huskers (40-8) have posted a 40-win regular season.

A sweep would also clinch the No. 2 seed for next week’s Big Ten Tournament, while the Huskers are still alive for at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. Nebraska enters play this weekend in second place in the conference standings, two games behind league-leading Michigan. The Huskers could earn an outright conference title with a sweep of Indiana and a Wisconsin sweep at Michigan, and Nebraska could share the conference crown with the Wolverines if NU goes 3-0 this weekend and Michigan goes 1-2. Michigan’s magic number to clinch its seventh consecutive Big Ten title is two.

The Huskers have nearly secured a first-round bye at next week’s conference tournament. Nebraska needs just one win this weekend or one loss by either Wisconsin or Purdue to clinch a bye.

Fans are encouraged to come out and support the Huskers this weekend in their final home games of the regular season. Nebraska could post the highest single-season attendance average in school history by averaging 1,250 fans for every game this weekend. Baseball fans already at Haymarket Park will receive free admission into all three softball games, and there are several fan-friendly promotions scheduled at Bowlin Stadium this weekend.

Fans can play free Husker softball bingo for a chance to win prizes on Friday. Saturday is “Bark in the Park” day at Bowlin Stadium, where fans can bring their dog to the game (dogs must be licensed, leashed and vaccinated). Saturday is also Youth Day, where kids in the eighth grade and younger will receive free admission when wearing their jersey. On Sunday, Nebraska’s senior All-America twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards will be honored following the game as part of Senior Day festivities. In honor of the Edward twins, all twins will receive free admission into Sunday’s game.

Scouting the Indiana Hoosiers (17-35-1 Overall, 5-15 Big Ten)
Indiana brings a 17-35-1 overall record into the final weekend of the regular season. The Hoosiers are in 10th place in the Big Ten standings with a 5-15 league record. Indiana has been playing its best softball of the season recently. The Hoosiers have won three of their last five games and added a fourth victory on Wednesday with a win over Valparaiso in the completion of a suspended game from March 9. Although Indiana has yet to win a Big Ten series this season, Indiana split a doubleheader with Michigan State. The Hoosiers have been swept in their only two Big Ten series against ranked opponents (at Michigan and at Northwestern). Indiana is 2-14 on the road this season, including 1-8 in Big Ten play.

Offensively, Indiana is batting .256 as a team and averaging 3.5 runs per game. Over the past five games, the Hoosiers have scored 27 runs, an average of 5.4 runs per game. In conference play, Indiana is batting .259, but the Hoosiers are averaging just 3.1 runs per game. Indiana has shown good plate discipline this spring, drawing 161 walks in 53 games.

Breanna Saucedo is one of two Hoosiers who own a .300 average this season. Saucedo is batting .350 with three doubles, two triples, 10 RBIs and a team-high 16 stolen bases in 20 attempts. Natalie Lalich is hitting .300 with four doubles and 15 RBIs. Kassi Farmer is the top slugger, as she owns seven doubles, seven homers and 23 RBIs to complement a .299 average. Michelle Huber leads Indiana with eight doubles, while Brianna Meyer has drawn a team-high 30 walks. In Big Ten play, Saucedo is batting .356, while Farmer (.350) and Meyer (.321) are both hitting better than .300.

In the circle, Indiana is allowing an average of 5.2 runs per game while boasting a 4.57 ERA. The Hoosiers have allowed a league-high 53 home runs in 53 games. Opponents are hitting .305 against the Indiana staff with a .489 on-base percentage. In conference play, Indiana owns a 4.75 ERA and opponents are hitting .321 against Hoosier pitching with 20 home runs and a .510 slugging percentage.

Indiana has utilized a three-pitcher staff this season. Lora Olson, Brooke Boetjer and Meaghan Murphy have all thrown more than 100.0 innings. Olson is 8-15 on the year with a 3.78 ERA. She leads the staff in ERA, wins and innings pitched (133.1), but Olson is 0-6 with a 4.99 ERA in Big Ten play. Boetjer is 4-6 on the season with a 4.20 ERA in 100.0 innings. She has been at her best during the conference season, compiling a 2-3 record with a 3.55 ERA. Murphy is 5-14 this spring with a 6.00 ERA in 105.0 innings. Opponents are hitting .329 against her with a .609 slugging percentage, having produced 31 doubles, seven triples and 27 home runs. But Murphy has won three of Indiana’s five Big Ten games, posting a 3-6 record with a 5.82 ERA in league play.

The Hoosiers are led by Michelle Gardner, who is 125-188-1 in six seasons at Indiana. Overall, Gardner owns a 276-364-1 record in 10 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

Husker History vs. Indiana
Indiana leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 6-3, and the Hoosiers own the distinction of being the only Big Ten team the Huskers have not defeated in conference play since joining the Big Ten in 2012. The teams did not meet last season, but the Hoosiers swept a three-game series in Bloomington, Ind., in 2012. Indiana has won four straight in the series, and the Hoosiers will be playing their first games in Lincoln this weekend. Nebraska Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is 1-4 in her career against Indiana, including an 0-3 record against Indiana Head Coach Michelle Gardner.

In the 2012 series, Nebraska out-hit Indiana 24-16, but the Hoosiers outscored the Huskers, 14-6. Indiana led for all 21 innings of the series, grabbing a lead in the bottom of the first inning in all three games, a lead the Hoosiers would never relinquish. Tatum Edwards went 6-for-9 in the series with a double and an RBI. In the circle, Tatum earned one start and gave up six runs (five earned) in a complete-game loss. Taylor Edwards was the only other current Husker to play against the Hoosiers in 2012, as she went 1-for-7 at the plate.

Noting Nebraska
Below is a look at brief team notes and statistics of interest heading into this weekend’s series with Indiana.

  • Nebraska finished 14-3 in April, and the Huskers outscored their opponents 130-33.
  • NU has scored 165 runs since changing its lineup 21 games ago (averaging 7.9 runs per game).
  • Nebraska had a 41.2-inning scoreless streak snapped in its last game.
  • NU has posted six shutouts in its last seven games and seven shutouts in its last nine games.
  • Nebraska leads the Big Ten home runs (57), walks (173) and total bases (668) this season.
  • NU leads the league in doubles (40), home runs (32), RBIs (143), total bases (325) and slugging percentage (.602) in conference-only games.
  • 64 of the 125 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored with two outs (51 percent).
  • The Huskers are 31-1 this season when scoring first.
  • Nebraska is 20-2 when recording 10 hits this season, but the Huskers lost their last game despite totaling 10 hits.
  • The Huskers are 25-0 when scoring at least five runs this year, but are 0-10 when allowing five or more runs.
  • Despite a 13-2 April record entering this week, NU has dropped from No. 7 to No. 19 in the NCAA RPI this month.
  • NU boasts the nation’s 17th-toughest schedule overall and the No. 3 most difficult non-conference schedule.

Husker Hits
Below is a look at brief individual notes and statistics of interest heading into this weekend’s series.

  • Hailey Decker (.429) and Tatum Edwards (.400) are both hitting above .400 in Big Ten play.
  • Hailey Decker leads the Big Ten with 17 doubles this season, a total that ranks eighth nationally.
  • Decker also leads the Big Ten lead with 26 extra-base hits this spring (17 doubles, 9 home runs).
  • The Edwards twins have homered in the same game 13 times in their careers, including four times this season.
  • The Edwards twins have combined for more home runs in league play (17) than seven of the other 11 Big Ten teams.
  • Tatum owns 65 career wins and 43 career home runs, as she is the nation’s only player with 60 wins and 40 homers.
  • Tatum leads the Big Ten in homers (10), RBIs (32), total bases (61) and slugging (.938) in conference-only games.
  • In conference-only games, Tatum has produced the second-most home runs and sixth-most RBIs in Big Ten history.
  • Taylor Edwards leads the Big Ten with 16 home runs, a total that ranks 18th nationally.
  • Taylor ranked among the nation’s top 50 players in on-base percentage (29th), runs per game (31st) and slugging percentage (47th) entering play this week.
  • Taylor has walked 35 times this season, becoming the first Husker to post four 30-walk seasons.
  • Taylor has driven in 39 runs this season, becoming only the second Husker to post four 30-RBI seasons.
  • Taylor has totaled 52 career homers and 40 career doubles. She is only the second Husker and just the 12th player in Big Ten history to become a member of the 40/40 club (40 career doubles and 40 career homers).
  • Taylor hit her fourth career grand slam on Wednesday, setting the Nebraska career grand slam record.

Husker Happenings
Below are highlights of select Huskers who are enjoying a recent stretch of strong play.

  • Alicia Armstrong is 23-for-56 (.411) over her last 17 games in the batting order with nine doubles and 16 RBIs.
  • Hailey Decker is 15-for-31 (.484) with four doubles, three homers, 13 RBIs and 13 runs over her last 10 games.
  • Decker has recorded 12 multi-hit efforts and eight multi-RBI performances over her last 23 games.
  • Tatum Edwards is expected to make her 200th career start on Friday.
  • Tatum has homered in seven of her last 11 games and has 12 homers in her last 25 games.
  • Tatum has produced 30 hits in her last 25 games after totaling 15 hits in her first 24 games.
  • Tatum owns 38 RBIs in her last 25 games after producing just nine RBIs through her first 24 games.
  • Tatum has produced an RBI in 10 of the last 11 games, totaling 26 RBIs in that stretch.
  • Tatum has produced a multi-RBI effort in seven of her last 11 games.
  • Taylor Edwards has homered in five of her last 10 games.
  • Taylor became the ninth Husker to score 50 runs in a season with a pair of runs at Wisconsin on Wednesday.
  • Taylor has become the first Husker to produce two seasons with more than 15 homers.
  • MJ Knighten has produced six multi-hit efforts in her last 15 games.
  • Knighten owns 17 RBIs over her last 19 games, after totaling 14 RBIs in her first 32 games.
  • Knighten has produced six multi-RBI efforts in the last 19 games, after totaling four in her first 32 games.
  • Emily Lockman has thrown four consecutive shutouts and owns a 25.1-inning scoreless streak.
  • Lockman has not allowed an opposing base runner to reach third base during her scoreless innings streak.
  • Lockman is 6-0 in her last six starts with a 0.21 ERA in 33.0 innings.
  • Lockman has won eight straight decisions, posting a 0.73 ERA in 48.0 innings during the streak.
  • Kylee Muir has produced four multi-hit efforts in her last 12 games, after totaling one in her first 31 games.

What to Watch for This Weekend
Below is a look at some potential noteworthy accomplishments that could be reached this week.

  • Tatum Edwards needs two home runs to tie the Big Ten record for home runs in a conference season (12).
  • Tatum needs three RBIs to tie the Big Ten record for RBIs in a conference season (36).
  • Taylor Edwards (52 homers) needs one home run to tie Ali Viola’s career record of 53 home runs.
  • Taylor needs two RBIs to become the second Husker and sixth Big Ten player to produce 200 career RBIs.
  • Taylor would tie Jennifer Lizama (93) for second in school history with one extra-base hit this weekend.

A Look Back at Nebraska’s 11-Game Win Streak
Nebraska is playing its best softball of the season of late, highlighted by the Huskers’ 11-game winning streak that was snapped with a loss at Wisconsin in game two of Wednesday’s doubleheader. Nebraska outscored its opponent 94-4 during the winning streak. The streak was Nebraska’s longest winning streak since 2007 and marked the 17th double-digit win streak in school history.

Offensively, Nebraska’s 94 runs in the 11-game win streak marked the second-most runs the Huskers had ever scored in an 11-game stretch, trailing the 95 runs the 2011 team scored from March 12 to March 22. In the circle, Nebraska tossed eight shutouts during the 11-game winning streak, including each of the final six games.

Ten of the 11 victories during the winning streak came against Big Ten opponents, as Nebraska also put together a 12-game conference win streak. That streak ranked as the second-longest conference win streak in school history and the longest since the 2004 squad won 12 straight Big 12 games.

Tatum Edwards Nearing Big Ten Records
Senior Tatum Edwards has a chance to make Big Ten history this weekend in the final regular-season games of her career. Tatum has been a terror for opposing pitchers in conference play, as she owns a .400 average with five doubles, 10 homers and 32 RBIs in only 20 Big Ten games. Edwards enters this weekend with a chance to tie or break the Big Ten record for most home runs and RBIs in a conference season.

Edwards’ 10 home runs in league play are two shy of the Big Ten record of 12, set by Michigan’s Sierra Romero last season. Romero was a teammate of Edwards at Vista Murrieta High School. Edwards has already joined Romero and Indiana’s Monica Armendarez (1998) as the only players in Big Ten history to produce double-digit home runs during a conference season.

On the RBI front, Edwards’ 32 RBIs in conference play rank sixth in Big Ten history. The record is 35 RBIs set by Romero last season and Michigan’s Amanda Chidester in 2011.

Taylor Edwards Nearing Husker Home Run Record
Senior Taylor Edwards hit her school-record fourth career grand slam in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Wisconsin. The slam was the 52nd home run of her career, leaving her one shy of tying Ali Viola’s school record of 53 career home runs. Edwards also owns 198 RBIs, as she is two shy of becoming the sixth player in Big Ten history to produce 200 career RBIs. Edwards is 15 shy of Viola’s school record of 213 career RBIs.

Lockman Riding Four-Game Shutout Streak
Sophomore Emily Lockman has been dominant in the circle over the past few weeks. Lockman has tossed a career-best four consecutive shutouts. She brings a 25.1-inning scoreless streak into this weekend’s series. The last run she allowed was a solo home run to Iowa in the fourth inning of an April 11 victory, the only hit she surrendered in a complete-game victory. Since that homer, Lockman has not only not allowed another run, she has not allowed an opposing base runner to reach third base. Opponents are hitting a paltry .153 (13-for-85) against Lockman during her scoreless innings streak and all 13 hits have been singles.

Lockman played a large role in Nebraska’s 11-game winning streak that ended with her shutout victory on Wednesday. Lockman went 6-0 during the winning streak, posting four shutouts and a 0.25 ERA, allowing only one run in her 33.0 innings during the streak. In addition to contributing to the Huskers’ 11-game win streak, Lockman owns a personal eight-game winning streak. She has not lost since her worst statistical outing this spring against No. 16 Minnesota on March 23. Her win streak began with a victory at No. 23 Northwestern on March 30 and since then, Lockman is 8-0 with a 0.73 ERA in 48.0 innings.

Husker Offense Threatening Several School Records
Fueled by an outstanding month of April, the Husker offense is set to challenge several team season records. Currently, the Huskers own the best slugging percentage (.494) and on-base percentage (.397) in school history. Nebraska also boasts the second-most extra-base hits (138) in school history, the third-best batting average (.303), the fourth-most home runs (57) and the fifth-most runs (296), doubles (74) and hit-by-pitches (43).

With four more runs, the Huskers would become just the fifth team in school history to score 300 runs and just the third to reach the mark in the regular season (first since 1996). Nebraska is also just five homers away from breaking the record of 62 home runs set in 1998. NU is averaging 1.6 home runs per game in league play.

Huskers Toss Six Straight Shutouts
The Husker pitching staff has tossed seven shutouts in its last nine games, including a streak of six straight shutouts that was snapped in Nebraska’s last game. The streak of six consecutive shutouts tied for the third-longest in school history. Overall, Nebraska boasted a stretch of 41.2 consecutive scoreless innings during the shutout streak.

Senior right-hander Tatum Edwards and sophomore right-hander Emily Lockman each fired three shutouts during the six-game shutout streak. Edwards compiled a scoreless streak of 23.1 innings before it was snapped. Lockman has thrown four consecutive shutouts and has stretched her scoreless streak to 25.1 innings entering this weekend’s series.