With the win, Nebraska (33-20) advanced to Saturday’s second semifinal. The Huskers will face either second-seeded Minnesota or No. 10 seed Iowa at 5 p.m. (Central) on BTN. The Big Ten Tournament championships game is set for 7:30 p.m. (Central) on Saturday.
The Huskers won behind a strong outing from junior right-hander Emily Lockman, who earned the win to improve to 17-12 on the season. Lockman tossed a complete game and held Ohio State to only two runs, after the Buckeyes set a Big Ten Tournament record with 24 runs on Thursday against Indiana. Lockman scattered nine hits against a Buckeye offense that ranks 10th nationally in scoring and 19th in batting average.
Offensively, junior Kiki Stokes went 4-for-4 out of the leadoff spot as part of a record-breaking day. In addition to producing her second career four-hit game, Stokes scored a pair of runs to break Tobin Echo-Hawk’s school record for most runs in a season. Stokes has now scored 63 runs this spring.
While Stokes reached base safely in every plate appearance out of the leadoff spot, freshman Laura Barrow went 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs. Senior Steph Pasquale and sophomores MJ Knighten and Cassie McClure produced Nebraska’s three RBIs, while Pasquale produced two hits.
The Huskers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Stokes began the inning with a leadoff single before Knighten walked. The next two Huskers were retired before senior Kylee Muir worked a four-pitch walk. McClure then won an eight-pitch at bat by drawing a bases-loaded walk that scored Stokes with the game’s first run.
Ohio State tied the game in the top of the second but missed a chance to take the lead. Three consecutive one-out singles loaded the bases, before a Caitlin Conrad RBI single tied the game at 1-1. The Buckeyes still had the bases loaded with one out, before Cammi Prantl grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Prantl then committed a key throwing error in the bottom of the inning that allowed Nebraska to take a 2-1 lead. Barrow drew a one-out walk before Stokes singled. Barrow moved up to third on a fly out from Knighten. Then with two outs, Stokes stole second and on the play, Prantl’s throw went into center field, allowing Barrow to score.
After escaping a jam for the third consecutive inning in the top of the third, Nebraska appeared to add another run in the bottom of the frame. Pasquale singled before Muir doubled high off the wall in left. McClure then flew out to right and Pasquale tagged up and appeared to score. But on appeal, the home plate umpire ruled that Pasquale had left early and she was called out.
The Huskers did extend their lead in the bottom of the fourth. Barrow and Stokes both singled to begin the inning. Ohio State then got a pair of quick outs before Pasquale lined an RBI single down the right field line. On the play, the ball was misplayed by the Ohio State right fielder, allowing Knighten to also score to give Nebraska a 4-1 lead.
Nebraska added another insurance run with the help of another Ohio State error in the bottom of the sixth. Barrow led off with a single and advanced to second when the left fielder misplayed the ball. Barrow then moved up to third on Stokes’ fourth single of the game and scored on a sacrifice fly from Knighten.
Ohio State scored its final run on a two-out home run from Erika Leonard in the top of the seventh, one of only two hits Lockman allowed over her final 5.0 innings
While Nebraska improved to 33-20, Ohio State fell to 30-22. Olivia O’Reilly (14-10) took the loss for the Buckeyes.