NU can’t hold early lead vs. No. 13 Washington

Posted By: Sports

Courtesy: NU Media Relations

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – The Nebraska softball team built an early 3-0 lead Saturday against No. 13 Washington, but the Huskers were unable to hold on to the lead in a 7-5 loss to the Huskies at the Puerto Vallarta College Classic.

Nebraska jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Senior MJ Knighten began the frame with a single and junior Austen Urness followed with a one-out single to put runners on first and second. Sophomore Alyvia Simmons then drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single to left that scored Knighten. Simmons then scored on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of freshman Haley Donaldson. Leading 2-0, Nebraska capped the three-run inning when Donaldson took off for second base during the next at bat, which drew an errant throw from the Washington catcher, allowing Edwards to come home from third base on the error.

Washington answered with four runs of its own in the bottom of the first. The Huskies trimmed lead to 3-2 on a two-run homer from Julia DePonte. Washington then pulled even on a two-out, RBI triple from Sis Bates and took a 4-3 lead on a double from Morganne Flores.

The Huskies threatened to add to their lead in the bottom of the second with runners on first and second with one out. But Jablonski got DePonte to fly out before Taylor Van Zee was retired on a great diving catch by Urness in left field to end the inning.

Washington did plate two more runs in the bottom of the third. The Huskies began the inning with back-to-back infield singles. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third before Kirstyn Thomas tapped a ball just a few feet in front of home plate. Sophomore catcher Bri Cassidy quickly pounced on the ball with the runner from third breaking for home. Cassidy ran the runner back to third but did not make a throw, as the Huskers failed to record an out. With the bases loaded and one out, a third infield single scored one run before All-American Ali Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly to stretch the Washington lead to 6-3.

The Huskies tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Bates.

While Washington had a base runner every inning – and multiple runners in every frame but two – the Huskers struggled to maintain momentum against Husky ace Taran Alvelo. After sending seven batters to the plate in the top of the first inning and scoring three times, Nebraska managed only one hit and just two base runners over Alvelo’s final five innings.

Samantha Manti relieved Alvelo in the seventh and the Huskers mounted a two-out rally. Junior Gina Metzler ignited the rally with a single before Knighten walked. Jablonski then lined an RBI double to left and Knighten scored a second run on the play following a Washington error. Trailing 7-5 with a runner at second, Urness then hit a hard ground ball to short, where Aguilar made a sliding stop and a strong throw to first to end the game.

Junior right-hander Kaylan Jablonski (0-2) took the loss for Nebraska. In a complete-game effort, Jablonski allowed seven runs on 11 hits and struck out two. Offensively, seven Huskers produced a hit, with Simmons and Donaldson recording Nebraska’s only two RBIs.

Following an 0-4 opening weekend in which Nebraska faced three top-15 opponents and a BYU squad likely to enter the top 25 next week, the schedule gets no easier for the Huskers next week when Nebraska travels to Tallahassee, Fla., for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. NU will face Pittsburgh twice before closing the weekend with back-to-back games at No. 3 Florida State.