The Nebraska softball team saw its season end Thursday afternoon, as the Huskers fell to Penn State, 5-0, in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Nittany Lions won with timely hitting, going 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Half of Penn State’s eight hits came with a runner in scoring position – including three with two outs – while the other four hits all came with none out to set the table in all four innings in which the Nittany Lions scored. In contrast, the Huskers were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and twice NU had a runner on third base with fewer than two outs but failed to score.
With the loss, Nebraska ended its season with a 24-29 record. Penn State improved to 23-32 and advance to face No. 4 seed Illinois on Friday. Senior right-hander Cassie McClure (11-9) took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits in 1.2 innings. Junior right-hander Kaylan Jablonski pitched well in relief, allowing only two runs in 5.1 innings.
Jablonski also produced one of Nebraska’s two hits, while freshman Tristen Edwards led off the bottom of the second with a double to account for the Huskers’ other hit. Penn State ace Marlain Laubach, who went 0-2 against Nebraska in the regular season, got her revenge in the postseason, as she fired a two-hit shutout, retiring the final 11 Huskers.
Penn State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. A leadoff walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt put Nittany Lions on second and third with one out. McClure bounced back with a big strikeout before Delaney Elling brought home the game’s first two runs by lining a 3-2 pitch into center field for a two-out single.
The Nittany Lions stretched their lead to 3-0 in the top of the second on a two-out RBI double from Rebecca Ziegler.
Edwards then led off the bottom of the second with a double. She was at third with one out following a ground out, but Nebraska was unable to bring her home as a strikeout and a foul out ended the inning.
The Huskers threatened again in the bottom of the fourth when senior MJ Knighten drew a leadoff walk before Jablonski singled. McClure then drew another walk to load the bases with one out but again Nebraska failed to score.
Penn State then used a leadoff walk, a wild pitch and an RBI single to push its lead to 4-0 in the top of the fifth.
The Nittany Lions added an insurance run when Rebecca Ziegler led off the top of the seventh with a home run before Laubach wrapped up her third shutout of the season by retiring Nebraska in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Each of Nebraska’s four seniors – Knighten, McClure, Rachel Arthur and Lotte Sjulin – saw action in their final game.