Husker softball can't overcome deficit
West Lafayette, Ind. - A four-run first inning deficit proved too much to overcome for the 18th-ranked Nebraska softball team on Sunday, as the Huskers' comeback effort fell short in a 6-5 loss at Purdue.
The loss snapped Nebraska's five-game winning streak, as the Huskers had to settle for a 2-1 series win over the Boilermakers. Purdue scored five in the first and one in the sixth, before holding on for the win. The Boilermakers survived scares from Nebraska in each of the final innings to improve to 21-25 on the year and 8-9 in Big Ten Conference play. The Huskers dropped to 34-10 overall and 12-4 in conference action. Nebraska stranded 10 runners in the loss, including five in the final three innings, leaving the tying runner in scoring position in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Junior right-hander Tatum Edwards (21-7) took the loss for Nebraska. Edwards settled down from the rough start by keeping Purdue off the scoreboard after the second inning. In a complete-game effort, Edwards allowed six runs on 10 hits. Lexy Moore (9-10) earned the win for Purdue, while Lilly Fecho picked up the save. Moore allowed four runs on four hits in 4.1 innings. Fecho tossed the final 2.2 innings, giving up one run on two hits.
Nebraska jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Freshman Alicia Armstrong began the game with a walk, before senior Gabby Banda followed with a single. A one-out walk to senior Brooke Thomason then loaded the bases before freshman Hailey Decker scored her classmate Armstrong with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field.
Purdue answered back by exploding for five runs in the bottom of the first. The first eight Boilermakers reached base safely on six hits and a pair of walks, leading to all five runs. Tatum Edwards settled down to retire the ninth and 10th batters of the inning, as Purdue stranded a pair of runners in scoring position.
A two-out rally helped Nebraska cut the lead to 5-4 with a three-run second inning. Tatum Edwards and sophomore Jordan Bettiol recorded back-to-back one out singles before Purdue recorded the second out. With two outs, Banda was hit by a pitch to load the bases, before junior Taylor Edwards was also hit by a pitch to force in a run. Thomason then lined an 0-2 pitch into center field for a two-run single that cut the lead to one. On the play, a late throw home attempting to get the second runner got away from the catcher, and Taylor Edwards tried to come home on the play, but she was thrown out.
Purdue got one run back and stretched the lead to 6-4 with a two-out, RBI single from Tori Chiodo.
Both pitchers settled down while tossing scoreless third and fourth innings. In the top of the fifth, a pair of one-out walks to Decker and senior Courtney Breault marked the end of the day for Moore. Fecho came on in relief and a passed ball on her first pitch moved Decker to third and freshman pinch runner Kiki Stokes to second. But Fecho escaped the jam with a ground out that didn't score a run and an inning-ending strikeout.
Nebraska threatened again in the top of the sixth, finally bringing home a runner in scoring position. A leadoff double from Bettiol and a one-out single from Banda put Huskers on first and third with one out. Taylor Edwards then flew out to the wall in left for a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 6-5.
The Huskers trailed by one entering the top of the seventh and again threatened. A two-out walk to freshman pinch hitter Dawna Tyson was followed by a single from Tatum Edwards to put runners at first and second. Bettiol lined a 1-1 pitch just foul down the left field line before fouling out to end the game.
Despite narrowly missing a game-tying hit, Bettiol finished 2-for-4 and scored two runs. Banda also finished 2-for-3, while Tatum Edwards was also 2-for-4. Taylor Edwards and Thomason each drove in two runs.
Following the weekend road series, the Huskers return home this week. Nebraska hosts Creighton at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, before welcoming No. 9 Michigan to Bowlin Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is the World's Largest Softball Tailgate, which includes free admission to the game and the tailgate, free hot dogs, chips and Pepsi products (while supplies last), inflatable games, autographs with Husker teams and much more.
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