An unearned run and a pair of failed scoring chances doomed the Nebraska softball team’s hopes of an upset in a 1-0 loss to 16th-ranked Arizona on Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The Wildcats’ lone runner to score reached base on an error. Despite the unearned run, Nebraska had runners at second and third with one out in the top of the third but failed to score. The Huskers then had runners on first and third with one out in the top of the sixth, but again failed to score.
The lack of timely hitting – from an offense averaging 9.0 runs per game entering the contest – spoiled a terrific outing by junior right-hander Tatum Edwards. Edwards (4-1), who suffered her first loss of the season, tossed a complete-game five-hitter. She did not allow an earned run and allowed only one fly ball out of the infield, an RBI double by Hallie Wilson that drove in the game’s only run.
Nebraska fell to 6-1 with the loss, after posting the program’s best start since 2003. Arizona improved to 4-0 with the win. The Wildcats also improved to a perfect 21-0 in home openers at Hillenbrand Stadium. Counting Friday’s win over Nebraska, Arizona has outscored its opponents 201-11 during the 21-game home-opening win streak.
Shelby Babcock (3-2) earned the win for Arizona, tossing a four-hit shutout with five strikeouts.
Each team missed scoring opportunities in the early innings. Nebraska twice turned inning-ending double plays in the first and second to halt Arizona scoring chances. Then in the top of the third, freshman Alicia Armstrong reached on a one-out single that was followed by another single from freshman Kiki Stokes. A passed ball moved the runners to second and third before senior Gabby Banda hit a hard-hit grounder to the left side of the infield, where Arizona shortstop Brigette Del Ponte went down to one knee to make a sliding stop, before looking Armstrong back to third and throwing Banda out at first. Junior Taylor Edwards was then ruled to have swung on a 3-2 check swing, ending the inning.
Arizona found the scoreboard for the first time in the bottom of the fourth. A leadoff error where it appeared sun played a factor allowed Chelsea Suitos to wind up at second base to begin the frame. Hallie Wilson then doubled off the top of the wall in center to score Suitos and put the Wildcats in front 1-0. With Wilson on second with no outs, Tatum Edwards bounced back from the error and prevented any further damage by retiring three of the next four batters, including a pair of strikeouts.
The Huskers failed to score a runner from third with less than two outs for the second time in the game in the top of the sixth. Banda led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a ground out from TaylorEdwards. Senior Brooke Thomason then grounded a single up the middle, but a strong throw home held Banda at third. With runners at the corners and only one out, a strikeout and a foul out ended the threat.
That proved to be Nebraska’s final threat, as the Huskers were retired in order in the top of the seventh.
Thomason paced the Huskers’ four-hit attack with a 2-for-3 day.
Nebraska returns to action at the Hillenbrand Invitational with a pair of games on Saturday. The Huskers face Utah State at 10 a.m. (Central) followed by Drake at 2 p.m.