Nebraska rolls past No. 25 Illinois, 14-0

Posted By: Sports

Courtesy: NU Media Relations

Lincoln, Neb. – The Nebraska softball team used a pair of six-run innings and a three-hit shutout from Cassie McClure to race to a 14-0 five-inning victory over No. 25 Illinois on Sunday afternoon at Bowlin Stadium.

The Huskers posted their most complete performance of the season in salvaging the third game of the series. Nebraska finished with 14 runs – one shy of its season high – while shutting out an opponent for the first time this season.

Behind the dominant all-around effort, the Huskers (20-25) notched their 20th win of the season and posted the largest victory over a ranked opponent in program history. Nebraska remained in fifth place in the Big Ten Conference standings by improving to 10-7 in league play.

Illinois saw its 10-game winning streak snapped and fell to 34-11 overall and 12-3 in Big Ten. Taylor Edwards (14-2) suffered just her second loss of the season, allowing four runs in 1.0-plus inning of work.

For Nebraska, McClure posted her first shutout of the season. The senior right-hander fired a three-hitter and allowed only one runner to advance past first base in the game. She improved to 8-7 with the win.

Offensively, freshman Tristen Edwards finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs, tying her career high in hits for the third time in six games. Junior Kaylan Jablonski was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, a homer and a season-high three RBIs. Senior All-American MJ Knighten also added three RBIs and was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate while drawing a pair of walks. Junior Taylor Otte added two hits, as did sophomore Alyvia Simmons. McClure also contributed offensively, as she was hit by a pitch and drew two walks while tying her season high with two runs scored.

Illinois stranded a runner at third in the top of the first and the Huskers sent only three batters to the plate in the bottom of the first before exploding for six runs in the bottom of the second. Jablonski and junior Laura Barrow drew consecutive walks to begin the inning before Otte grounded a 3-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI single that plated Jablonski with the game’s first run. McClure was then hit by an 0-2 pitch to load the bases again with no outs. Following an Illinois pitching change, freshman Alexis Perry drew a bases-loaded walk to score Barrow and push the lead to 2-0. Sophomore Bri Cassidy then made it 3-0 with perfect execution on a squeeze bunt that scored Otte. Simmons followed with an RBI single that scored senior pinch runner Rachel Arthur before Edwards added an RBI double that made it 5-0. An infield single from Knighten loaded the bases again with one out before Jablonski drew her second walk of the inning, forcing in a run to cap the inning and push the lead to 6-0. 

The Huskers added two more runs in the bottom of the third. McClure drew a leadoff walk before Cassidy and Simmons produced back-to-back one-out singles to load the bases. Edwards drove in McClure with an RBI single before Knighten drew a bases-loaded walk to score senior pinch runner Lotte Sjulin.

Leading 8-0, Nebraska ensured its first run-rule victory with a six-run fourth inning that was made possible by an Illinois error that extended the inning. Otte led off with a single and McClure drew a walk before Simmons reached on a two-out error that scored Otte. Edwards then brought McClure home with an RBI double and Knighten followed with a two-run single that made it 12-0. Jablonski capped the inning with a two-run homer to left center.

McClure then worked around a one-out infield single in the top of the fifth to wrap up the win.

Following a seven-game homestand, Nebraska travels to Creighton on Tuesday for a makeup game. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. in the Huskers’ final mid-week game of the season.