The Huskers sent 13 batters to the plate in the decisive fifth inning despite recording only three hits. Nebraska drew five walks in the inning and was hit by a pitch, as three of the Huskers’ eight runs scored on bases-loaded walks.
Junior Alicia Armstrong got the rally started when she was hit by a pitch with one out. A costly error allowed senior Steph Pasquale to reach before classmate Kylee Muir walked to load the bases. Junior Dawna Tyson then scored Armstrong with the game’s first run on a bases-loaded walk. Freshman Kayla Jablonski followed with another RBI walk before sophomore Kat Woolman lined a two-run single to left field. Leading 4-0, freshman Laura Barrow singled to load the bases again and junior Kiki Stokes delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. Following a walk to sophomore MJ Knighten, Armstrong then capped the inning with a three-run double to center field.
The eight-run inning was more than enough support for junior right-hander Emily Lockman, who tossed her third shutout of the season. Lockman improved to 15-12 and became the first Big Ten pitcher to shut out the Fighting Illini this season, firing a two-hit shutout.
Armstrong finished 1-for-3 with three RBIs, while Woolman added two RBIs. Eight Huskers scored a run and five players produced at least one RBI.
With the win, Nebraska improved to 31-19 with its fifth straight victory and 11th win in its last 12 games. The Huskers improved to 16-5 in Big Ten Conference play, and Nebraska clinched the No. 3 seed for next week’s Big Ten Tournament.
Illinois fell to 25-25 on the season and dropped to 13-8 in league play. Jade Vecvanags, the Big Ten wins leader in conference play, suffered the loss. Vecvanags (18-11) allowed eight runs in 3.2 innings, but only three of the runs were earned.
Nebraska is back in action on Saturday at 1 p.m. for Fan Appreciation Day at Bowlin Stadium.