Nebraska, the lowest remaining seed of the eight teams who advanced to Oklahoma City, earned a spot in the Women’s College World Series field by winning two of three games against No. 3 Oregon in last week’s NCAA Super Regional in Eugene, Ore. The Huskers snapped the Ducks’ nation-leading 24-game home winning streak on Saturday, then rebounded from a disappointing 11-inning game two loss on Sunday to earn a 4-2 victory over the Ducks in the rubber match of the series. With the win, Nebraska advanced to its seventh Women’s College World Series in school history.
The 14th-seeded Nebraska softball team makes its seventh appearance in the Women’s College World Series this week, opening the tournament at 11 a.m. on Thursday against 11th-seeded Washington.
Junior right-hander Tatum Edwards, the 2013 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, has been outstanding in the postseason. She has started five of Nebraska’s six NCAA Tournament games, throwing a complete game each time, including one shutout. Edwards is 4-1 with 1.62 ERA in 39.0 postseason innings. Included in her four victories are two wins over No. 13 Stanford and one win over third-ranked Oregon. As good as Edwards was, it was freshman Emily Lockman who earned the series-clinching victory for NU. Lockman allowed two first-inning runs and nothing the rest of the way in a complete-game victory at No. 3 Oregon in game three of the super regional in her postseason debut.
Offensively, senior Brooke Thomason has collected seven hits, including one double and two homers, and driven in 10 runs in six NCAA Tournament games. Freshman Alicia Armstrong leads NU with a .474 average in the postseason (9-for-19), while senior Gabby Banda owns an 11-game hitting streak.
Scouting the Washington Huskies (43-15)
Washington advanced by beating Missouri twice in Columbia, Mo. Once rallying from a 1-0 deficit to tie in the seventh and then win in the eighth, and then the clinching game was a 1-0 win, on a leadoff homer to start the game that held up.
Nebraska takes on a Pac-12 opponent for the sixth consecutive game in its Women’s College World Series opener, facing off against No. 11 seed Washington. The Huskies are 43-15 this season and have breezed through the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Washington is 5-0 in the postseason, outscoring its opponents 15-2. Nebraska and Washington share 11 common opponents this season in Arizona, Cal, Florida State, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State and Stanford. The Huskers posted a 15-8 record against that group, while the Huskies went 12-7.
Offensively, Washington is hitting .309 as a team while averaging 5.9 runs per game. The Huskies rank among the top 30 offenses nationally in scoring (23rd), average (24th) and slugging percentage (28th). Washington has scored two runs or less in four of its five NCAA Tournament games, averaging 3.0 runs per game in the postseason.
Individually, Victoria Hayward is one of seven Washington regulars hitting above .300. She leads the team with a .380 average, five triples and 21 stolen bases, while adding six doubles, five homers and 21 RBIs. Kaitlin Inglesby is hitting .361 with eight doubles and team-high totals of 11 homers and 60 RBIs, ranking 31st nationally in RBIs. Hooch Fagaly is batting .348 with 10 homers, 47 RBIs and a team-high 41 walks. Kylee Lahners is hitting .306 with nine homers and 42 RBIs, while Kelli Suguro boasts a .304 average. Inglesby, Hayward and Fagaly were each first-team all-region and All-Pac-12 selections.
Defensively, Washington is allowing an average of 2.7 runs per game, but the Huskies have allowed just two runs in their five NCAA Tournament games (0.4 runs per game). UW boasts the nation’s second-best fielding percentage at .981. The staff owns a 2.56 ERA that ranks 58th nationally, the lowest ranking of any team in the Women’s College World Series field and the only team ERA that doesn’t rank among the top 40 nationally.
Inglesby and Bryana Walker have split the majority of the innings for Washington this season. Inglesby is 22-7 with a 1.87 ERA in 168.1 innings. She has thrown 12 complete games among her 18 starts, tossing four shutouts while striking out 130 and limiting opposing hitters to a .228 average. Walker is 19-7 on the year with a 2.81 ERA in a team-high 172.0 innings. She has started a team-high 33 games and struck out 196 batters. Opponents are hitting just .217 against her, but have homered 25 times. Kasey Stanchek (2-1, 3.92 ERA in 30.1 IP) and Jocelyn Cater (0-0, 9.00 ERA in 4.2 IP) round out the Washington staff.