The 19th-ranked Nebraska softball team saw its season come to an end Friday night, as two more unearned runs cost the Huskers in a 2-1 defeat to No. 2 Alabama, which punched its ticket to the Women’s College World Series by sweeping the Huskers in the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional.
Alabama relied on four unearned runs to force extra innings in a 6-5, 12-inning victory on Thursday. On Friday, both of the Crimson Tide’s runs were unearned, but Nebraska’s defense also turned a school-record-tying three double plays. Even with the errors and six unearned runs in the Super Regional, the series-clinching victory was ultimately decided by Alabama’s ability to get the clutch hit when NU could not.
The Tide were 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Friday, including back-to-back, two-out RBI singles in the top of the first. Nebraska was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Three-time All-American Jaclyn Traina, who pitched the Crimson Tide to the 2012 national championship, earned the victory to improve to 23-3 on the season. Traina fired a three-hitter and allowed just one run for Alabama (50-11).
Senior right-hander Tatum Edwards pitched well for Nebraska in her final game as a Husker. Edwards (24-13) did not allow an earned run in a complete-game loss, scattering seven hits. She did not allow an earned run in 13.0 innings during the Super Regional, and Edwards ended her career with a streak of 18.0 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
Tatum Edwards also had one of Nebraska’s three hits, finishing 1-for-3. Sophomore Alicia Armstrong was also 1-for-3, as was junior Kylee Muir. Freshman Austen Urness drove in the Huskers’ lone run, as she produced four RBIs in the Super Regional and seven RBIs in her final four games.
Alabama gave Traina all the support she would need with a two-run first inning. A two-out error extended the inning before Alabama produced back-to-back, two-out RBI singles to score the game’s first two runs.
In the bottom of the second, freshman MJ Knighten drew a leadoff walk before Muir singled. Sophomore Kiki Stokes then advanced the runners into scoring position with a ground out that she nearly beat out for an infield single. With Huskers on second and third with one out, Urness scored Knighten with an RBI ground out.
Nebraska was quiet until the bottom of the fifth. Stokes reached on a leadoff error and stole second base with one out. She moved to third on a two-out wild pitch before Armstrong flew out to center to end the inning.
After NU turned its third double play of the game in the top of the sixth, Tatum Edwards singled and Taylor Edwards reached on an error to put Huskers on first and second with only one out in the bottom of the sixth. Alabama recorded the second out at third base before Traina’s second strikeout of the game ended the threat.
Traina then retired the Huskers in order in the bottom of the seventh to punch the Tide’s ticket to Oklahoma City.
Despite falling just short of a second straight trip to the Women’s College World Series, the 2014 season was a successful one for the Husker softball program. NU won a share of the Big Ten Conference regular-season title, posted the seventh 40-win regular season in school history and won an NCAA Regional title for the eighth time in program history. Along the way, Nebraska set school records for most road victories (18), home runs (73), RBIs (325) and extra-base hits (173), while producing the top slugging percentage (.495) in program history.