It was a tight contest throughout that featured high drama in the late innings. Nebraska built a 3-0 lead after three innings of play, but Northwestern scored the game’s final five runs. The Huskers led 3-2 after six innings before the Wildcats used a two-run double to take the lead and an RBI double to add an insurance run.
Trailing 5-3, Nebraska loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. The next two Huskers both popped out before senior Mattie Fowler laced a line drive up the middle, where Northwestern’s Andrea Filler made a terrific diving catch to end the game. Adding to the drama, Northwestern recorded the game’s final out less than three minutes before the teams’ mutually agreed upon drop-dead time of 5:50 p.m. Had the drop-dead time been reached before the Wildcats recorded the final out, the game would have reverted back to the last completed inning, which would have given Nebraska a 3-2 six-inning victory.
Kristen Wood (10-7) earned a hard-fought victory, shutting Nebraska out over the final four innings. She allowed six hits and worked around eight walks, as Northwestern snapped a six-game losing streak to improve to 21-17 on the season and 9-5 in Big Ten play.
Nebraska lacked timely hitting as it saw its five-game winning streak snapped. The Huskers (25-19, 12-5 Big Ten) were just 3-for-14 with runners on base, including 0-for-4 with the bases loaded. Sophomore MJ Knighten was the only Husker with multiple hits, as she finished 2-for-4. Junior Alicia Armstrong walked in each of her four plate appearances, tying the school record for walks in a game.
Junior right-hander Emily Lockman (14-12) took the loss for Nebraska. Lockman pitched well, allowing only four earned runs in a complete-game effort against one of the nation’s top 50 scoring offense.
Lockman shut out the Wildcats over the first three innings, allowing the Huskers to build a 3-0 lead. Nebraska jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on back-to-back triples from junior Kiki Stokes and Knighten. Knighten was then caught in a rundown and tagged out on a squeeze bunt attempt, when Armstrong did everything she could to try and bunt a ball well out of the strike zone. Following the out, Armstrong and senior Steph Pasquale both walked before a fly out and a ground out prevented further runs.
The Huskers added two more runs in the bottom of the third to stretch the lead to 3-0. Stokes drew a leadoff walk and stole second. Armstrong then walked for the second time before Pasquale blasted a ball to deep center that would have been a home run had it not been for a strong wind. But the gusty breeze kept the ball in play, as Pasquale’s drive bounced off the fence. Stokes scored from second on the play, but Pasquale inadvertently passed Armstrong on the base paths rounding first base, so Pasquale was ruled out as Armstrong wound up at second base. Sophomore Cassie McClure then plated Armstrong with an RBI single through the left side.
Failing to add more runs in the early innings would cost Nebraska. Northwestern got on the board in the top of the fourth when Filler led off the frame with a solo home run to left.
In the fifth, Northwestern had a runner at first with two outs before Andrea DiPrima hit a fly ball to left that the wind pushed away from freshman Taylor Otte. Otte attempted to make a diving catch but came up empty, as DiPrima’s triple closed the gap to 3-2.
That set the stage for the seventh, when an error and an infield single preceded the Wildcats’ back-to-back clutch doubles. Knighten then singled to begin the bottom of the seventh before Armstrong walked for the fourth time and Pasquale was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded and no outs, Wood regained her control and coaxed a pair of infield pop ups before Filler’s diving grab ended the Huskers’ comeback hopes.
Nebraska wraps up a short four-game homestand on Tuesday, when the Huskers host the Creighton Bluejays at 6 p.m. at Bowlin Stadium.