Back-to-back clutch hits from freshman Hailey Decker and sophomore Mattie Fowler highlighted the Huskers’ two-run sixth inning, as 14th-ranked Nebraska rallied for a 3-2 victory in front of 1,518 fans at Bowlin Stadium in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal.
Purdue grabbed an early 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of bases-loaded walks in the top of the first inning. The Huskers cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the frame thanks to doubles from junior Tatum Edwards and senior Brooke Thomason.
But the Boilermakers held the 2-1 lead until the bottom of the sixth, when Nebraska won a game in its final at bat for the 11th time this season. Thomason began the rally with a hard-hit infield single that deflected off of Purdue pitcher Lexy Moore. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from classmate Courtney Breault, before Decker came to the plate. Decker fell behind in the count 0-2 and fouled off a pair of 1-2 pitches before lining a game-tying RBI single into left field. Decker advanced to second on the throw home, moved to third on a ground out and scored when Fowler delivered a clutch two-out, opposite field RBI single to score Decker.
Tatum Edwards, who shut out Purdue after the two-run first inning, then worked around a one-out single to finish off the Boilermakers in the top of the seventh. Edwards (26-8) allowed six hits and worked around eight walks, thanks in part to seven strikeouts.
With the win, Nebraska picked up its 40th victory of the season, improving to 40-12 on the year. The Huskers advanced to Saturday’s second semifinal, where they will face Minnesota at 4:30 p.m. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Purdue ended its season with a 23-32 record. Moore pitched well, scattering nine hits while allowing no walks and three runs. Offensively, the Boilermakers stranded 11 runners.